"We have art so that we shall not be destroyed by the truth." ~~ Nietzsche
We live in what seems to me to be uniquely disturbing times. I remember being a youth in the age of the threat of nuclear annihilation and being mildly fearful, but only occasionally, and less fearful than merely pensive. I attribute that to my youthful optimism, which for some reason I have never been able to abandon, as a tot refuses to release his teddy before entering a place of grownups, and for similar reasons: it's who I am and no one has the right to deny me my identity.
But I wonder how I might have responded if I had been older then. Might I have grown cynical and conservative, quite justifiably in my mind, as a defense against fear? Would I have seen the world from that point on as a place of folly and joylessness, and called that "reality"?
And so it seems to me today: a world filled with humans incapable of reason or even the ability to preserve themselves (which certainly was the case then too), a world in which we can readily see the folly of our leaders and even of ourselves ("Supersize that meal! So what if it's making me fat and I'll die young! And all my neighbors drive SUV's so I must have a right to one too!") and yet we seem unable to change; a world in which we can see our world leaders careening into one disaster after another as if blind and stupid (or merely insane), or as if they had accepted disaster and disappointment as not merely necessary compromise, but our birthright, as who we are.
If all my neighbors are insane monkeys, it must be okay for me to be one too. Right?
If that's who we are, then I'm tired of being a human. I don't want to be a human anymore. I want to be something else, anything else. I want to be an angel, and fuck all if that seems an elitist attitude. I'm not an angel though, except sometimes, just a little, in my mind. Failing that, I just want to be a rock, a stone, turning slowly to sand over time, content to merely watch and listen and accept as inevitable the crumbling away of yet another species of insane monkeys, until quiet returns to this earth.
I'm no longer satisfied to be an insane monkey. Too often I feel like a starving tiger walking circles around a cage inside of which sits its meal. It can't enter, and if it did, it may well mean giving up its freedom, yet it hungers and it cannot leave.
But in moments of clarity, it seems like I'm sitting in the cage, watching the tiger circle me outside, a look of desperate hunger in its eyes. And in a flash and only for an instant, I see that if I open the cage door and let the tiger devour me, I will truly find the freedom I crave. I will merge with the tiger and neither of us will hunger after that.
I'm not talking about dying ... not in the physical sense. I'm talking about a release from the limitations of being, of identifying myself, with the insane monkey. I'm talking about entering the eye and the heart of the tiger: a place of fearlessness and of centered concentration. I'm talking about the death of fear and the rebirth to truth: a direct experience of reality, free of intermediaries.
But it's a scary prospect, giving up one's fears. No one ever said becoming sane would be easy or painless. There's joy along the path ... such joy! But with joy comes its opposite at times. So I've decided that along the way, when the going gets grim and I really need a respite, I'll just settle into the consciousness of a stone, and sit very very still for as long as it takes to regain my breath and to remember that I am not the monkey, nor am I the tiger, nor am I the stone.