Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wait a second

I was scaling the side of a cliff once when I was about twenty five and a friend of mine was climbing above me.  He lost his grip and went flying by. At the moment he passed by he looked at me calmly and said, "Wait a second."  Obviously in deep denial of the power of gravity. It was not a very long fall and he only ended up slightly bruised.  The weird thing is how funny this event was,  and still is when I think of it.   Uh, just give me a moment and I'll think of someway to deal with this. Why is it so funny to me?  I think it may be because it captures the absurdity of the human predicament.  We're all careening toward the bottom but we calmly look at each other and think we can avoid the crash if we have enough time to figure something out.  We're often not sure what we're trying to figure out but it's better than just falling without a plan.  A plan?  You're falling asshole! There's no Hollywood dumpster full of soft empty boxes at the bottom.

I think this blogs recurrent theme of dealing with the ultimate, inevitable fall is a bit like saying "Wait a second."  But my friend wasn't hurt that much. So what's the point?  It's a lot like the "so far so good" joke about the guy falling off of the Empire State building and somebody asks him how he's doing as he flies by.  Where is all this leading? I don't know.  I haven't a clue what's at the bottom of it all.

Are all of the philosophical strategies tools for living or distractions from the Fall?

My traveling daughter recently went through a health scare where she was facing the possibility of dying a painful,  much sooner than expected death.   She compared the process of dealing with this to purgatory. Fascinating idea.  In the Catholicism of my youth purgatory was a place you had to go to to suffer for your sins before you could go to heaven and see God.  You would go to purgatory if you died with venial sins.  If you died with a mortal sin on your soul you'd go to hell and never have a chance of seeing God and you'd suffer excruciating pain forever and ever.  I remember the nun asking us seven year old second graders to remember what it felt like if we'd ever burnt our hand and to imagine feeling that pain forever. Holy shit!

I think this is another important spiritual principle that was initially a helpful and insightful idea that got seriously twisted by human beings trying to use the spiritual power to contro others.  I, in fact, believe that we have to go through a painful passage of acceptance before we can enter into holy communion.  I'm clearly in the middle of that passage now re my mortality but I'm encouraged by some of the brief visions of redemption that have surfaced.  For me using tools to minimize ego and maximize acceptance are an important part of this journey.

So, I haven't written lately because of extreme anxiety and concern re all the changes that have been going on in my life and the great suffering going on in Japan and other parts of  the world.  I'm feeling well enough to write now.  Maybe life is a series of purgatories where we suffer and then we, hopefully, find a way to accept and carry on with hope and joy.