This Feeling Existed Within

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Image by Tasha Tudor

“The worker must work for the glory of his handiwork, not simply for pay; the thinker must think for truth, not for fame.”
― W.E.B. Du Bois

Art is the highest form of hope.

Theory has nothing to do with a work of art.

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. Henry David Thoreau

If you pretend the future is preordained, you don’t have to do anything. If you pretend you’re in a small familiar room you don’t have to look up like Prince Andrei does, badly injured and lying on the battlefield in that scene in War and Peace, and wonders why he hadn’t seen the sky before.

He recovers and in a later scene, “he looked up at the sky to which Pierre had pointed, and for the first time since Austerlitz saw that high, everlasting sky he had seen while lying on that battlefield; and something that had long been slumbering, something that was best within him, suddenly awoke, joyful and youthful, in his soul. It vanished as soon as he returned to the customary conditions of his life, but he knew that this feeling which he did not know how to develop existed within him. Though outwardly he continued to live in the same old way, inwardly he began a new life.” That sense of vastness, spaciousness, the beyond offers him, and I believe, each of us something and it’s made of nothing you can hang onto. — Rebecca Solnit

We discover ourselves in the mistakes and errors in living, not in getting things right all the time. Of course the mistakes should not be so big they kill you, but in travail and emergency something deeper comes to the fore, something unexpected and golden. That glimpse of inner depth and insight has no return path usually. It can’t be re-conjured and studied. It can only be allowed to grow what only it can grow — at its own pace. It can’t be commanded, it just requires an open field, which it may or may not use.

I spent my thirties chasing something I called enlightenment, but when a sudden insight showed a glimpse of what that might entail, I dropped it like a hot potato. The power source in that realm looked too overwhelming and too uncontrollable.

But, it grew my life afterwards anyway. I didn’t even try to build myself a home on that flash of insight. I left it alone. I thought I was walking away from it, yet I see now that not chasing after it let it operate underground, as it were, as a guide toward a deeper, more meaningful life.

Not imagining myself in the driver’s seat has bestowed an unquantifiable magic to my trajectory. I could be wrong, but I seem to see a greater intelligence to my fate as it works itself out in my time in this incarnation. I’m amazed and amused by the outrageous plot-twists. It’s a hell of a story, if I ever decide to tell it. The biggest element, the most important character in the story is my blindness.

Throwing myself at my life in spite of my feckless ignorance and disregard for common sense somehow achieved a lot of beauty. The combination of personal naivete and adventurousness with some kind of inner gyroscope has led me deeper into life than I could have expected, relying only on my resources. It has been quite a ride, I see now, in the service not so much as adventure, but creativity and beauty-making.

My long list of stupid moves hasn’t produced the sense of failure that was predicted.

Here in my dotage, though, I hesitate to recommend my modus operandi to anyone else. What if I survived through sheer dumb luck and not through the mystical inner wisdom I like to imagine?

And yet, I feel taken care of by loving invisible overseers — angels, if you will. I’m smart enough not to push my luck too far, but I do insist on giving thanks everyday for what I’ve learned, for what I’ve been able to create and who I’m spending my life with.

As the world scene continues to change radically, maybe people like me who have always been out of step will find life become more livable, more kind and beautiful.

There’s a plot twist I never thought would happen until now. I can hardly wait to find out.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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