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Tuesday, May 22, 2012


      pedal to the metal

Today's adventure was new brakes for the 93 Buick. The rotors were scored way past the legal limit and the pad on the right front brake was worn down to the metal. It was a mess. Chuck lets me hang out in the garage area and watch him. I stay out of his way and don't try to talk to him when he's working. He has WPAQ AM out of MtAiry playing on a laptop computer with small speakers on top of a cabinet. It was gospel music hour and some preaching. I heard a singing quartet, the Chestnut Grove Quartet. Never heard them, never heard of them before today. I liked their singing a lot. They played two songs. I listened to several gospel songs that had me on the verge of in the spirit. A preacher from Walkertown, Louisiana, was talking word for word the very same preaching I heard as a kid in Kansas City and in Wichita. My bone to pick with Christendom is there is never any progress along a spiritual path. The deal is, you get saved and you're all right. From then on, you go to church. All I see coming out of Christendom in this time is the same old thing: you better get saved or you're gonna go to hell. What kind of inspiration is that? Fear. Not inspirational at all. Stay outta the street or I'll give you a switching. You better, or else. That mind repelled me more than it attracted me. Didn't attract me at all.

What spirit I was getting into with the good country singing of the good old hymns, the preacher talked out of me, talking about he knows this and that, because he's experienced it, so bad a talker I had to interpret his meaning by knowing already what he meant, though he had a tough time getting there. That's not being kind to him. He was well meaning. But still, he never talked anything beyond you better or you're gonna. All the time he talked, he told me he didn't have any grasp of the scripture other than what he's supposed to have. Another preacher running his mouth on and on, dancing around the only subject of the New Testament: Love. Still involved in what Jesus specifically said to put aside; crossing the t's and dotting the i's of rules and regulations that grow to endless. To avoid the subject of love and the sermon on the mount, we get overwhelmed with a list of rules to go by that aren't even written down, that include EVERYTHING anybody might or could do. You're born guilty and, by God, you're not going to forget guilt. Personally, I refuse to go along with any of it. I don't give in to guilt trips. Love is what it's about, and churches I know of don't seem to get it, so I go my own way. Be in the world, not of the world. Church is as much the world as Exxon.

Whenever I'm called upon to define the nature of my path in a few words, I say everyday life is my path. It's everyday life "spirituality" is about. It's not about saying Om until you have some mystical experience. I see more as I have more experience that mystical stuff amounts to a merry-go-round, a ferris wheel, a roller coaster. My grandmother said to me when I was little about a merry-go-round, you get on it, go round and round, when you get off it, where you been? It didn't take the fun out of those things, but it clarified for me that sideshow sorts of things, rock concerts, bluegrass concerts, films, a lot of entertainments, are no more than entertainments, and reasonably ought not to be taken for more than what they are. We clicked. I felt like I understood her when she told me such things. She wasn't trying to dampen my spirit, but to give me some understanding, some self-awareness, something to think about. It was something of a riddle, which she took to mean a foolish waste of time, and wanted me to think about it. I don't think I ever rode a merry-go-round again. Mainly, because after the age of 5 they're boring.

Early on my spiritual path I wanted some mystical experiences, but as time went by, perhaps I matured spiritually enough that I don't think about mystical things any more. It was quite a number of years I wanted to do nifty things like be psychic, channel, do neat things that make other people marvel. I've grown out of that to where I don't even want it now and am glad it never came to me. I don't go about hugging everybody I see and saying peace, love or making expressions of love, because it gets taken so very wrongly so predictably. I've found for myself the best expression of love I can give with everyone I come face to face with is to allow them who they are, hear them when they speak, and treat everyone with basic human respect. In this world, that's a lot. I am so not a missionary, I'm possibly an anti-missionary. The church of my childhood was all wound up with missionaries in the mission field, like Africa and South America, sending them money. The Peter Matthiessen novel, At Play In The Fields Of The Lord, is a grand allegory for what the missionary mind creates. In the case of his story, the missionaries brought the flu that wiped out the people of the region.

I've seen so much harm come of innocent good intentions in spiritual expressions, and they never get it because the intentions were for the Lord. Like when the Sparta Revitalization Committee cut down the century old holly tree on the courthouse lawn, the reason they gave was "the ever present problem of prickly leaves." And they planted 7 hollies. Kinda belies the smoke screen. I don't like to operate by intentions any more. I do, but don't like to. Intentions imply an agenda, and I've come to a place I don't want agendas, and I suspect other people's agendas. I'm in a place I want to just settle down and enjoy every day in its passing and not concern myself with issues I have no voice in, which is everything beyond the reach of my hands. I know people in Whitehead whose minds don't go past Whitehead, my friend Jr Maxwell was one of them, and I almost envy that way of thinking. I feel like they have a more realistic view of living their lives than I do. I hear somebody say family is the only important thing in this world. I've seen that so much in Chinese film and contemporary fiction. I never understood why family is so important until I've lived over 50 years without family as the focus of my life. I don't mean to imply that I want it.

In the nature of such beliefs is the maxim, exceptions prove the rule. Exceptions would be a family with one or both of the parents the kind of people that alienate their kids and keep everybody in the house at odds with each other. As a rule, family is the answer. But not always. I believe the spirit is practical and doesn't want us to have to live in demeaning circumstances. Too often efforts to do good end up as ego trips. There is the question, how to do good without it being an ego trip? That's where I allow spontenaiety. Ego is right there in setting out to do good. That's ego only. How to do "good" without having it as an agenda, an intention; that is the thin line of narrow lines. It comes down to an attitude toward life, the attitude itself. Then you get down to what "good" means in doing good. The Tao te Ching recommends doing nothing. That is my own inclination, to live my life by my own attitude toward life, which I know is not accurate, and is changing all the time. It will never be accurate, because accurate is not possible, but I like it to be practical, which I'd say balances inaccuracy of interpretation. Practical I think of as awareness of context. That's good enough.


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