Thursday, August 08, 2013

Changing the World

Changing the world always starts with changing yourself. The world is on its course, but you are responsible for changing it. But this isn't easy. It is, in fact, hard.

The course of the world is like a metal rod. Maybe it bends. Maybe it stays rigid. But it is there, and it is always there.

You are someone given a task: make sure the rod ends up here, which is often really there. There are even handy arrows pointing the way, saying to you, "Here! Here! Put it here!" But you are over there, there, and you haven't put the rod in your hands yet. Already you are responsible to satisfy the imperative, but you're not sure who gave you the task, who put the arrows there, and if they are at all the same. All you really know is they are talking to you and it is important.

So, you put your hands to the rod. Suddenly, you see the rod isn't rigid, it's kinda flexible. Maybe if you bend it just right, it'll go there instead of here. But you have to act, because it's on its course. You have your hands on the rod. Now, here's the tricky part.

Whenever you relax, the rod springs into a new position. The moment you relax, it is not on the course you set for it, going from there to here. It is not under your control, but bending, bending, struggle, breath, off. It's now off course. Oh dear, look what you did.

So, you put your hands to the rod. You exert yourself to push down the rod, to keep it from bucking, to keep it on its course you want. It has to get from here to there, but it keeps going from there to here the very moment you relax the very slightest degree. And it moves off in any direction, any freedom away from the course you want. It doesn't know it is supposed to go here. It is a rod. It doesn't know anything the way you know it is there. It does bend away, every time, unless you be firm with it.

Firm means constant vigilance, constant effort, constant control, because the slightest relaxing in any direction means the rod will bend off the course you want. You want it here. It is going there.

So, you grab the rod. You grip it tight and wrench your hands and bury your fingers. You take a breath and smother the rod to keep it from moving in any direction where it finds the freedom to go from here to there. Now you feel it in your arms, in your back, as you press and grip and hold on tight, tight to keep it on course, all the while it bounces around trying to get free, get away, away off course.

You will never be free. You will never relax. You must always be in control. Or it won't get there from here.

Wait. How did that happen? How did it happen that I thought it needed to get there from here? Who told me that it is supposed to go there? Why am I doing all of this, when it's already going this way? Maybe I should just let it go.

But look what I did. I put it here. This is where it stopped when I started thinking for myself. I was doing all that work, trying and trying, sweating and hardly breathing and straining and hardly succeeding. It kept going all which way but the right one. I don't have to keep doing that, but look what I did. It's now going there. Oh no. That's not the right-- That's not what it's supposed-- I have to do something to keep it from going there!

If I don't do something, this will end badly. There is no one else who sees it going there but me, because I was the last one on the rod. It's my fault it's going there!

So, I put my hands back on it, and now this time, it doesn't matter where it goes, so long as it doesn't go there. I have to act here and now, in this moment, to keep it from there. Now, I use my legs to push hard as my hands grip differently to pull hard to one side, any side, any direction, just away, away from going there, any where but there. I want it as far away from there as I can pull it, but I settle for any where slightly off if I get it. And I know that once it is off course, I can let it go and be free. Then I can relax. I can relax from all this effort.

I will settle for whatever gives me rest, so long as I can pull really, really hard long enough and hard enough and will the rod to move just slightly off from going there. I am so close, so close to being free and able to relax, but I have to, right here and right now, I have to. I have to keep pulling it away from the inevitable there.

But I am getting tired, and I settle for slightly off, as close to there as I settle for, and I think I'll be free. But it's too close! I thought I could relax if it was off just enough. I can't relax! I have to get back on it and pull again, pulling it off more than just enough, get further away from there, further away from here. I have to do this! I have to pull it off course!

If I don't do something, this will end badly!

Wait. Stop and think about all of it.

You still don't know who gave you this task. You still don't know who put those arrows there or who talks to you through them. You don't know anything at all, and all the things you think are important, you don't know why they are or how they became important. Most certainly, you don't know why they became important to you. You don't know who you are or why your hands are on this rod. You don't even really know what's so wrong about it being here or being there.

So, let go. Let go of the rod. Let go of the effort. Let go of here. Let go of there. Let go of being the only one pulling the rod. Let go of doing. Let go of struggling. Just stop.

And it will go on its course, the course it has always been on. That rod has seen a lot of things over the course of its life. Did you know it used to be a bunch of different rocks from all over? Yeah, it was molded into that shape, long before a bunch of hands got all over it, pulling and forcing, tugging and nudging, gripping and hitting, knocking and banging, all those hands trying to keep that rod from going along the way it has been going longer than any of us ever knew. And all those hands, all those legs, all those wills, and it goes its course. Did you know before it was ever those rocks, it was part of the core of this earth? And before it was ever part of this core, it was part of dust and rocks just floating all around in the vast emptiness of space? And before it was floating around, drifting around, going around all kinds of ways, some of that dust was in this star's compression?

Can you imagine that? Something so much more massive than you ever will be, capable of pressing down on things so much more than you ever will, burning with a heat so much hotter than you ever will, that something made bits of it over a long, long time. Other stars also helped and made their own contributions to it, all of them different but all of them bigger, hotter, stronger than either of us, than anything in the world. But all these contributions happened when each one of those really big, hot, strong bodies just stopped, let go, and gave up everything they had that had to go.

No one told them to do that.

But here we are, with these hands.

Let them be empty.

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