Four a.m. is a delicious time of the morning. A freshness fills the air and all of life feels renewed with the sense of exuberant possibility. As the inaugural first stab at a blog took shape in my still bed-bound mind, something screamed, “Coffee!!” Who was I to resist the demands of one of my favorite muses? And so, dear pilgrim of the blogosphere, it is to this you and I both arrive, a morning cup of consciousness I’m calling “French Press.” Where it shall lead I cannot say, but that’s a fair share of the fun, isn’t it?
There’s something about morning that restores my faith, if not in humanity then perhaps in life itself, the very curve of it, it’s shift in velocity as it rounds a bend, it’s heroic cascading off rugged mountain peaks in search of landing. Nature has a wisdom we’ve long forgotten, but it can be smelt in the early morning breeze and heard in the first bird’s call. It offers up a particular kind of poetry that doesn’t need to exert itself beyond measure, it simply blossoms effortlessly forth into beauty with the day’s first rays of golden light. Would that our own meager lives were as harmoniously engaged, as unerringly purposeful as the determined hunt of squirrel for nut or pigeon for its pittance of crumb.
How many of us awoke this morning, I wonder, with a preset list of “to do’s” and “to be’s” and “to have’s” without even considering our own internal state of being, without reaching deeply into our own glorious bodies to connect with a single breath or stretch, without uttering a mumble of gratitude for another opportunity to play in these fields of the Great Unravelling?
“The Great Unravelling,” you ask?
“Indeed,” I say, “Just made it up. Hot off the press.”
Ah, yes- the Great Unravelling… a thing of legend, no? (Well, um… no, actually). Shhhhh!!! Don’t be silly- it’s all around us. In fact, you’re soaking in it (and for those of us over forty, it’s happening as we speak- or read or type or dance or fart, or just about anything we dare do sans Depends). Yes, well, Newtonian physics and gravity and what not- hard to dispel those unfortunate myths. Yet we persist! Keeping on in the keeping of ON, lest the off button or switch or fader overtake us mid-keep. The irony of a thing like keeping is that it’s impossible to do in the long run. There is no escape from atrophy, and eventually the chickens of attrition come home to rule the roost. Given this untidy truth, one might easily arrive to the conclusion that life is little more than another shell-shocked round of trench warfare, two steps forward and two steps back. And, for many of us, perhaps it is. Or seems.
Not that I have any solid proof of the following- for I exist in the same mustard haze as most everyone else- but as it occurs to me, the trick to “keeping on” is to keep the keep out of it. Or, rather, just LET GO. Keeping, as such, requires so much effort, essentially a struggle against nature and the very laws of physics itself. Our formal western education oriented us towards a Protestant work ethic and Darwinian style market forces like competition and survival of the fittest, preparing us for the rat race and struggle of life, but I wonder- might we have been better served to have learned eastern concepts like Buddhist non-attachment or Taoist wu wei, the principle of non-doing? What if instead of keep on keeping on we championed let go and let god, or water off a duck’s back and fair winds and following seas? Wouldn’t then we stand a greater chance to encounter the path of least resistance in our own lives, a kind of fulcrum principle that rewards the proverbial biggest bang for the buck, the greatest outcome or gain from the most measured or natural input?
It’s not that I’m against trying. It’s just that I think Edison had it a little skewed when he famously offered his formula for success: one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. Is a cheetah trying when it brings down it’s prey, or is it simply doing what it does best, masterfully engaging all of its natural ability in a single-pointed endeavor? Sure, from the perspective of the prey, it’s a violent and vicious act, but it’s own evasive action is equally as poetic and beautiful as the predator’s adroit chase, an exhilarating tango they dance until death or exoneration.
But ask yourself- as I asked myself this morning- what exactly is poetic in my life, what do I do with the grace and skill of cheetah or gazelle, wolf or rabbit? Where might that fulcrum be found, to allow me more ease and agility in my daily wanderings, to help me discover the path of least resistance towards my goals and aspirations? What would it feel like to give myself over to the Great Unravelling, even for a day or just an hour? It begins, my friends, with your next breath and stretch. It begins in the stillness of morning and in the stillness of mind.
Breathe. Stretch. Sit still. It’s that simple. Welcome to the Great Unravelling…