Winter Reflections, 2007
It has been a bleak winter and now at the end of January we have foggy mornings and days of cold sunshine. The air is faded, recondite with reminiscence and reflections upon life and death, of what has come before and what will come after.
I consider the course of my life, my choices, my current location. I wonder what I would say to my three daughters who grew up apart from me. I wonder if reconcilation is possible, or even desired—by me or them. If there is unfinished business there, it is only about affirming to them the love I have for them. In the smaller matter of “why” I can merely give them information. It might help if they knew that our separation, in the harshest terms, came about because I was a young fool, not an uncommon thing. I carried wounds from my own childhood that caused me to thrash about in great pain, and the thrashing shattered my marriage, my life, and our life together. I healed too late, left the past behind and found a life of love and wonder and grace, but never returned to them. Healed wounds still are marked by scars, which have a tendency at times to ache and bring memories of pains not easily revisited.
What do I have to say about how I have lived my life? What postscript would I send to the friends of my youth, filling them in on what happened, what I did, what I got, where I am now? I would say I survived the wounds of experience, but with scars. I did not pursue the temporal, but the eternal. I did not give myself over to work and money, and now my support and sustenance in old age will come from the same source which has somehow mysteriously sustained and succored me this far. I live comfortably, but am not rich. I have worked for the satisfactions which please me, and it has provided the perfect home for me, and a contented hearth. I work with my hands, I serve others, I do my best to be a fair and honest person, to avoid greed and be generous as I can. I consider the “why” of life and the secret of the universe, and have found my answers to both. I love and am loved.
I am beset at times by doubt, compelled to examine my choices and speculate on the greater thing I might have done or become if my particular talents had been focussed in a single area. Would I be the renowned writer or gifted physicist or complacency-shattering iconoclast which others told me I could be? Have I failed the potential quantified in those long-ago measurements, the tests of aptitude and achievement and IQ that others glorified? Would my gifts of intellect and insight which enabled me “to be anything and anyone I wanted to be” have been better served had I concentrated on society, and work?
If I had begun in the cubicle and risen to the materialistic pinnacle, would I be richer than I am now? I am now basically, and in my own order, a lover and loved one, a carpenter, a writer-poet, a survivor, a son and a father. When querulous doubts come, the battle is rejoined and its conclusion is always the same. It doesn’t matter. What is—is. I am. Beyond fleeting moments of doubt I am content with the direction I have taken, and still willing to consider that which is as yet undone or unreconciled.
I wonder more about the nature of good and evil these days. The war in Iraq, the spiritual poverty of our leadership, the lackadaisical participation and distance of citizens in the patriotic process. I have recently written this about it:
“The Iraq quagmire defies an honorable solution. Americans face only a weary aftermath which at best will leave us with a teachable moment and bitter lesson.
“I no longer wonder if evil and immorality require conscious choices. The icons and minions of the Bush administration have proven that both are accomplished without awareness, and that is their legacy. They have proven that spiritual blindness, ignorance of principle, and unenlightened self interest are roots of evil. They have also revealed that those who sin by omission and allow such things are similarly inflicted.
“In the hearts beneath those superficial nametags which self-proclaim the wearer religious, and moral, and patriotic, I now see evil present. It is plainly visible in the fruit of their actions and inactions; fear and division and death, power for the few and disregard for the many.
“Arrogant hubris created this quagmire. The same satanic fault that saw Lucifer fall from grace because he was certain he deserved to mount to the head of the congregation. Every guilty participant—and there are no innocents here—would be well-served to reflect on the truest final words in human history: “They know not what they do.”
That seems to be the bottom line for each of us. I am content to know that when I knew not what I did I considered it, and realized it, and owned it, and learned what I could do in awareness instead. Since then I’ve done the best I can to live a conscious life rooted in the constant, ever-present virtues of life itself.