Where You End and I Begin

Only a teenager can believe that s/he can live without contradiction. (Actually, it may only be male teenagers who believe this.)

As one of those male teens, I was convinced that I could live a life of transparent, open and steel-like purpose where I never, ever wavered from living my ideals, whatever those ideals happened to be. While it's difficult to remember why this need for rigid consistency was so very important to me, I still find artifacts of this desire in my thinking. 

After listening to a recent On Being podcast with Meredith Monk: http://www.onbeing.org/program/meredith-monks-voice/1398 I found myself stuck (once again) inside a contradiction. While I make my way through this world using words, words themselves constrain, limit and otherwise minimize our human experience.

I don't see a separation between my artistic and spiritual endeavors. One feeds the other in an endless feedback loop, regardless of the quality of the output. When I tried to give up writing (all artists give up from time to time; in fact, this waving of the white flag of surrender may be a necessary occurrence), my inquisitive spiritual drive went into neutral. Likewise, after the end of my first marriage years ago, I was writing a lot but I purposefully ignored any incantatory call from the larger world; I just couldn't tolerate spiritually-fraught ideas or dialogue. Such topics just pissed me off. 

Back to the limits of words (and with apologies to decades' worth of post-modern theory): our initiation into the language of our families is to name things. Mama. Papa. Etc. We take a million sensory inputs about an object and distill them to one or two words. This distillation is limiting to both the object that the person is trying to describe and to the person describing the object. 

To get past our preconceived notions of things, including our understanding of ourselves, we would be best served bypassing words altogether.  

And that would be great, if I wasn't a writer.  A writer who, you know, uses words. A lot.

So there's the contradiction, perhaps even conflict, between my entwined artistic and spiritual endeavors. Words get us to the precipice, but to truly fly, we need to shuffle off these linguistic artifacts and dive into that which we cannot name and cannot describe in order to truly enter the present moment, naked to the raw experience of it. 

Perhaps my teenaged self was on to something.