Sunday, 9 December 2018

Down is Not Out (The Way Up Can be Seen From There)

Our great glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius

Not the quote I had in mind originally. It was another I have seen drifting around social media innumerable times. I couldn't remember it, to quote it directly, so tried to find it based on the theme. I knew I would recognize it when I saw it. My search proved fruitless for said quote, & as it wasn't crucial to this piece. I went with this one because it has the same flavour.

Do I circulate memes? Yes, sometimes. Some, the idea held within, inspires me or offers a new perspective. Do I think the circulation of memes (regardless of "who" said them) will change my life?

Not one iota!!

Does that mean they are useless? No - not entirely. For me, I'm a writer. I wouldn't know if anything I've written to date has inspired anyone. Well okay, that's not true, I know it to be so, because I've had direct reflections telling me so. Certainly I can be inspired by an idea expressed by virtually anyone.They don't have to have attained or accomplished some pinnacle that has earned them the pedestal.

Such pearls can at times provide that wee spark, (an "Aha" moment) however, Inspiration ... without the necessary "perspiration" leading to assimilation - to me, is just like the flashpoint of getting high. It momentarily glorious, then it's gone, nothing remains but the irrepressible want to feel it again.. So instead of working toward and building something sustainable - the "quick fix" is sought, again & again & again.

But as a writer, the experience of others, written or otherwise, is not going to hone my craft. My life will inform my writing and as much as I'm willing/able, my writing will express my life.

I believe there's an assumption that the "words of wisdom," of all those that are thought to be made of something more than the rest of humanities milieu; actually live all that they write about. Some might. It's just as likely that some, left worthwhile signposts through their written works - but never quite attained them for themselves.

That tells me that, the wisdom contained in any given meme, scripture, sonnet, poem etc. must be made real for me through assimilation; or, I become aware of it, through some lived experience (or many, sometimes, of the same variety).

I came to begin pondering the idea in the above quote, because today, I lived it to the letter!

I was "on a mission" this afternoon. I had two bags stuffed full of warm clothes that I was going to drop of at the street drop in centre. I know from past donations, volunteering and brief employment that these items will go directly to people that are in need of them. Unlike many donations received by the centre, these clothes were virtually in new condition. I hadn't worn them to ragged and then "donated them."

Many people have the attitude that beat up clothing etc. is "good enough" for the likes of them. I don't share that idea. I buy half decent clothes - to try and get some longevity. Sometimes brand new, sometimes from consignment or thrift stores. Buying stuff has on occasion been for me just another compulsive way to avoid facing myself. If allowed to carry on for a while, it results in too damn much stuff!! Some of these purchases have been impulsive. Some have created redundancy. Ultimately there are a given number of "go to ..." items, clothing.. etc. etc. many things become forgotten, seldom (if ever worn) clutter and excess.

I recently walked through the downtown east side in Vancouver. The suffering was visible, obvious, palpable, shocking. It forced me to exam myself. Why should so many, suffer so much, have so little? Meanwhile some of my choices, threaten to bury me in the excess of my compulsions, perhaps accelerating me toward my own redundancy. Maybe some of the fruits of my "addictions" can be repurposed, to bring some form of comfort to those still suffering in their addictions.

So I go through my closets - two bags full are removed. I'm still not suffering any "lack." That which was removed wasn't worn. I dropped the stories that might rationalize their remaining. If the pants don't fit now, then they're gone. No intended weight loss scenario to justify keeping them. If I actually attain a narrower waist line ... I'll deal with that at that time. My "security" cannot be allowed to override someone, is freezing their ass off as I'm writing this. How can I justify clothes I don't/won't wear - remaining unused in my closets?

So I drive down to the centre - there is parking nearly at the front door (parking angels are pulling the strings!!). I get out of the car, open the back door, grab the two bags - and lock the doors (trust God but tie up your camel)

I walk across the street, one bag in each hand.. go to negotiate what should have been a "routine" step up over the curb and the next thing I know I'm airborne!!! Must have caught the toe of my boot on the curb or something..... there was no recovering, I ended up sprawled across the grass boulevard (muddied from recent rainfall) certainly the landing could have been more physically traumatic, as it was; it was somewhat like a head first slide into home plate...  Both palms slid through the mud (but weren't jammed as to cause fractures or sprains... somehow I kept my head/face from planting... Still had a bag in each hand. I was up almost as fast as going down. I heard a few oohs & ahhhs from the "patrons" that were hanging around out front. Nothing in the form of any verification of the status of my well-being.. Perhaps my dignity was being preserved. Certainly seeing someone fall is not new to anyone down there. Maybe more indicative how disinterested many people are, in what goes on around them.

I can certainly say, there would have been a time, when I was absolutely mortified over such an occurrence. Would have either beat a hasty retreat or lashed out looking to make someone responsible. On this occasion, "my mission," was no less - my mission. I brushed myself off some, realizing I was going to need a further "clean-up." I went into the centre, waited for a client to finish her conversation with the fellow behind the desk; and then, gave him the two bags, indicating they were donations for the organization.

I looked myself over, I was mud all up one sleeve of my jacket, both knees of my pants, hands.... I went back outside and around the building, to enter the drop-in area and to use the washroom to clean up some. Everyone out front of the centre, as well as those inside, were squarely occupying their world and reality, as I was in mine.

Why would such a thing happen? I fancy my "feet are on the ground.." (maybe not as much as I'd like to think)... Was I coming there ... all haughty and full of myself and my magnanimous gesture... I don't want to be that... I would like to embody some genuine humility ..

I know the hopelessness, isolation & shame of addiction ... through grace the more glaring aspects of that have not been part of my life for a very long time..  Well if there was any unconscious airs of superiority along with me... a swan dive through the mud, might be just the ticket, to take the edges of any further inflated pride.... Trust me, if it were operating where it once existed, there would be no chance, I would whisper a word of this to anyone...

Maybe my momentary lack of physical grace... was necessary to remind me of the grace operating in my life.

Parroting the wisdom teachings of others ... doesn't for a minute, mean I've embodied them (even if I can do it word for word). I've generally made it a point not to try and memorize such things, because I want to experience them organically and newly, each time I consider them.

Ironically sometimes I'm sharing memes, as a way of avoiding my own writing. Not fruitless .. for you see, now I have been given the awareness, that is what I was doing. There's no harm in it nor "social media," as a whole (but for me I must make the distinction, am I using it as a form of connection or disconnect?).

I don't know how others operate in the world. But for me I'm inclined to learn a great deal more from my falls, than I will ever learn, from the success or revelations, of someone else's life.

Maybe I'm going to fall all the way to wisdom and humility. I am truly grateful, for the grace of my creator, that helps me find the means and cause, to keep getting back up..

R. O'Neill (December 09, 2018)

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