When I left Detroit oh so many years ago, I was not certain of much. I did not know if I would make it away from home, being the home boy I was. I was very connected to my family, deeply enmeshed in my family as several folks described it back then. Breaking away and striking out on my own was a scarey thing to do. Even I thought I would eventually return and settle back into the fold of family and friends there. As a precaution, I chose some certainty in the move knowing that I would have a relative here in Riverside who would be my "anchor". That was me then, always needing an anchor, some measure of certainty that someone would always be there should I fail.
I've heard it said we are all born knowing everything. Soon after, though, we begin to forget. And by the time we have language skills to express ourselves, we have forgotten even the experience of birth. Then we grow and when we reach puberty we think we know everything. Our parents, indeed most adults, are just plain ignorant, or so we think. Then as we mature we begin to realize just how little we do know. And that is when we are presented with the opportunity to learn. Some choose to open their minds, other to keep them closed. Some live in certainty. Others become more and more uncertain. And that's where the real certainty begins to mainifest: in knowing we don't know and may never know, everything. And its okay.
So today I am meditating on certainty, on giving it up. I don't recall ever thinking I knew everything. I assuredly know I don't know everything now. Everything has questions attached. And every answer brings another question. I have come to realize that should I ever stop questioning, I might as well stop living. If there is nothing left to learn, why bother to breathe?
"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd." Voltaire
Living in the question rather than settling in an answer is the imperative. Stop questioning, stop living. Of that I am certain.
Every morning the sun rises. My upstairs bedroom window faces opens on the west side of the house, so what I get it reflected light. But it still lets me know that the day is rising up like a phoenix to begin again. It reminds me how when I went to bed the night before, I still had hope: hope for a brighter day, hope of a new tomorrow, hope that everything would be okay after all.
I am beginning to think one can live too much in hope. You see, hope is something that is always "out there", just beyond the horizon. It is not a real thing. It can bolster you up and make you want to carry on, but it is not real. Hope can be just an illusion. At the risk of sounding a bit jaded, I am giving up hope.
Okay, maybe that is an overstatement. I am not giving up hope. There is always hope. As I write this blog, I am sitting out on my deck in the side yard. The sun is fairly high in a clear blue sky. It reminds me that hope can mean believing a better world can come out of a clear blue sky. I think that is even called "blue-skying". But really, it takes a little more.
I read our local morning paper online today. It was full of stories about dog bites. "Dog Bites are on the Rise!" "Man bite by Pit Bull Will Recover." "Dog Shot by Officer wi\ill Live." Mixed messages for sure. Dogs running rampant. Dogs going to restaurants with their owners. People taking their dogs into public spaces more. And there are more dogs in America than ever before. All of this gives me pause. It is a mixed message to be sure and leaves me to wondering what the world is coming to? Is it, forgive my trite phrase, going to the dogs? I hope not.
And there is the problem with hope.
Hope is not enough. I believe in hope, don't get me wrong. But the object of hope needs action. To get the hoped for results, one needs to rise up and move their feet. It worries me sometime when I see and hear of so many who have given up hope. Like the man who lives on the streets whom I wrote of yesterday or the cynical pundit on TV news who dwells only on the negative failures of our government and economy. There is always hope. But I believe we need to get beyond hope, use the inspiration of hope, the "audacity" as our current president put it, to make it happen.
So today I give up hope. I am going to live into the hope of a better day by moving to make it one. I am going to give up hope in hope of making it real. Let hope be my inspiration, not my dwelling place. Will it work? Well, all I can say is, I hope so.
This is the eve of the first day of Lent. It is the day when we clear our our larders, use up sugar, flour and eggs, and prepare for the beginning of the season of contemplation, repentence and reflection. Known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, even Pancake Tuesday, it is a day in some quarters for revelry and celebration in anticipation of the forty days of self-denial and spiritual practices.
In light of this, I have decided that it is time to blog again, this time setting the goal of blogging daily during the season leading up to Easter. Easter to me is a time of rebirth and renewal. What better way for doing that then meditating on the things we really want or should give up; things like fear and guilt, resentment, doubt, self-pity, excuses and more.
This is my plan: to each day during Lent meditate in this blog on the forementioned items and more. It is my personal Lenten journey this year. I am inviting you to come along, and, if you care to, share your thoughts and experiences as we go.
So eat some pancakes quick, fling your party beads quick. The journey starts tommorrow. We're off to see the wizard...and the wizard might just be us.