Can We Make Peace with the Journey?

In the book “The Power of Myth,” Joseph Campbell comments “‘All life is sorrowful’ is the first Buddhist saying, and so it is.”   So how do we find contentment on our own individual journeys?

Years ago, I became friends with a woman who had come to the same small town in Michigan.   Our friendship was bonded by a number of mutual interests.   And, we believed it was more than serendipity that we shared the same birthday.   

When “C” died, she had few guests at the visitation, and a small number of mourners at the church service –many who were members of the same church which she had attended regularly.

Her one and only child, a son, came from New York City to arrange for her funeral.  He looked nothing like the black and white photo which had hung on her living room wall:  a composite likeness of a youthful Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan.  Instead it was a middle aged, ruddy complexioned individual who traveled to the Midwest to bury his mother.

While some might have viewed my friend’s circumstances as sad or lonely:  a life that had little chance for happiness or fulfillment, “C” seemed to follow her path with ease.  In reflection, part of the answer may be found in how this friend embraced her world.

“C” lived outside the city limits, on a less traveled, county road – a setting filled with trees and few homes.   Before the great room concept was alive and booming, “C” had planned her home’s design so that her living room would be the largest spot in her very small house.  

This room beckoned for the centering of one’s soul:  the large, black wood burning stove was the object for meditative focus.  And the windows filled one’s vision with her paradise: greenery and sky.

It was in this room where three to four of us would meet on a number of Sunday afternoons.   “C” would read from her books – often from either “He” or “She” by Robert Johnson.   Then she would engage us in the significance of the symbolism in the stories. Afterward, we would drink Darjeeling tea – allowing the thoughts of our discussions to settle.

At the time, I gave little pause to the real significance of these short-lived gatherings. But in retrospect, were those concepts and beliefs the foundation from which she positioned her life?

Like society’s never-ending quest for a Utopian world, I wonder if Man is capable of achieving the perfected wholeness that he seeks.  Could there be a paralleled irony which embodies both society and Man?  Or is this instead our individual and collective blessing?

Near the very end of the “The Power of Myth,” Campbell quotes Karlfried Graf Durckheim:  “When you’re on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey.”

 

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Are We Destined for the Unknown?

Hello, and welcome to the very first post. If nothing else, this will be an an open and honest process of thinking about Life’s meaning. It’s a journey we all share.

When we are lucky, we come across a quote that makes a lot of sense to us. This happened to me recently. It was found in a book called “Genius and Heroin” by Michael Largo. That book in itself has given me pause and reflection about the lives or more aptly the demise of a number of famous individuals.

Thought-provoking quotes are interspersed throughout the book – and they seem to help underscore the significance of these lost lives. But this particular quote reads “Death makes us all innocent and weaves all our private hurts and griefs and wrongs into the fabric of time, and makes them a part of eternity.” It was credited to playwright William Inge.

In an odd way, this quote may be like comfort food: in the grand scheme of things, we can rejoice in knowing that all the pain and suffering we have endured while on Earth will be forever released – only to be found (or not found as the case may be) in that vast, immeasurable space called the unknown.

But while Inge, as creator of said lament, may have believed that each of our lives is forever intertwined in the eternal universe, could the opposite be true? It may be presumptuous to believe we are so important that all our sorrows and personal afflictions will forever live on in another form – especially in that pristine place we could also call the heavens.

When one puts it in perspective – with all the people who have ever lived, or are currently living (over seven billion and still counting), we soon realize that we are talking about a lot of individual, fragile egos – much like that proverbial grains of sand on any given beach analogy. And this doesn’t even take into account all future generations – those billions upon billions of individuals who have yet to set foot upon this planet.

Is every person who ever graced our world in some fashion floating around in the unknown? Can we honestly think we are so significant as to have a place ready to embrace us in the cosmos?

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