Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Machine

You often feel like you are not enough. You are a person who sometimes makes plans and then cancels them. You have a hard time saying 'no'. You say 'yes' to things you don't really want to do. You want to be able to do everything. You want to be able to be everywhere, at once. You don't want to miss out, or lose your place, or be talked about, or judged. You judge others, sometimes, and this makes you feel like a hypocrite. Is it possible to release all judgment? Perhaps. But it takes practice and time and most of all humility, and it takes these things in harmony over and over again--there's probably no way to perfect it. The human brain--which is something you've got--has a wire in it, that may appear essential, called judgment. Take the wire out and you've got an entirely different machine that might be difficult to drive. 

Try driving it anyway. There are different gears; one that is important is called acceptance, and that's the first gear, the lowest one with the most power. It gets you going. When you learn to drive the machine you first go out with a friend who has some practice with it; she's known you a long time and she is gentle because she sees that you are scared; there are other machines out there and they've got a plan, they're on a path that is their own, they might not be patient if you get in their way. Don't worry; keep driving. 

I'm not sure what the other gears are yet. They might have something to do with love and virtue and that idea of sameness--you know, we're all 'one'. Maybe that's the highest gear, that knowledge. When you get to it, let me know how you did it. I'm still working on gear one and it often gets stuck in the sticky stuff of guilt, and self-doubt, and a tremendous, tremendous fear. But it's like a machine, see? You are a person of common sense, who knows that when a machine isn't getting going, there's something wrong with it. You've got to coax it back to health. The hammer trick doesn't work--you can't beat something into motion, it's got to want to move, it's got to feel propelled, it's got to have energy. It can't feel judged, the animal part of it; and everything's got an animal in it, if we're willing to look and see. 

Judgment makes the animal retreat; it's got a shell for hiding. I bet that shell is pretty damned comfortable, too; I bet there are books in there, and a wood stove that is full of fire, and probably some food the animal likes. Why would it want to come out? Inside, the world is its known world--every floor creak and night noise has become friend, and no one says 'not enough'. In fact, no one says much of anything (except those inside voices, which we've all got--nice ones and mean ones, come on, admit it). In the shell, it's easy to find comfort and rest; it's also easy to get a little bored, a little wan, a little lonely.

So face it: you've got to go outside. Where you often feel like you're not enough. Where you say 'yes' but then say 'no' and worry about losing out. Where you make a shit ton of really unimportant and truly important mistakes, over and over again. Where you judge and are judged in return. Where you begin to wonder if there's another way, if your machine could be re-calibrated. Only this time it's just a tiny bit easier, because you've been out here before. You find that in the swiftest instant your judgment about the neighbor (who does that?) can be replaced by a kind of frank and elemental forgiveness when you see that the man is limping, that the woman carries a broken briefcase, that the son is so shy he can hardly walk from doorway to car, that the dog is just dying, that the daughter is in love for the first time, that they have--every single one of them--been enough and also not enough at the very same time. That they're all machines. All animals with shells and the living hope that one day they'll come out and find something a bit better. 

Thanks for reading.