Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Resistance is Futile: Go with the Flow

You might think you're solid, but you aren't. You, as well as everyone you've ever known, are a bag of water with some mineral structure to keep you from falling face forward into your oatmeal every morning. That mineral structure is a bunch of dots flying around in circles, held together by electricity, magnetism, and gravity. Nothing is solid, not our bodies or the world, and nothing lasts - that's a truth everyone can agree on, from scientists to mystics to philosophers.

Even knowing full well it's an illusion, solidity is still utterly desireable. I think of that scene in The Matrix when Joe Pantoliano eats a juicy steak while ratting out the humans to the machines. He says something like, "I know this steak isn't real ... but I've learned that ignorance is bliss!" In the faux restaurant, a faux musician is playing the harp. It's such a perfect scene.

I get why solidity is appealing. When something is "rock solid" you can depend on it, right? Who doesn't want that? I've been mulling this over endlessly of late, especially wondering about my passionate longing for solidity. Part of my own story is that, as a slow processor of information, I sometimes wish everything would STOP, HOLD STILL - just for a second - so I could come to an understanding about the world. As if that would help! Of course if everything stopped, then I'd be dead, and so would you. I'm so funny.

A happy life includes good work, people to love who love you back, good health, creative expression, learning and fun, as well as the ability to let go when the time is right. That last bit is the hard part for me. I'm thinking today about how being alive on this beautiful planet - in spite of the sturm und drang of it all - is, as the Buddhists say, such a precious existence. Life is transitory, ephemeral, or like the Sufi acupuncturist says: "a leaky boat." And deeply precious. No wonder I hang on so hard sometimes.


Merle Sneed said...

Reya, a very thought provoking post. Thank you for your wisdom.

tut-tut said...

Getting back to your post yesterday, too, it's only since being in my 50s that I'm beginning, just beginning, to understand the preciousness of it all and feel true gratitude for what I have around me.

Reya Mellicker said...

Tut - I do believe that is one of the greatest blessings of aging. It comes on in the 40's, though usually with a sense of panic, like everyone still needs to fulfill every ambition. By 50 most folks understand that this IS the life we're living, whatever our circumstances, this is IT. At 40 there's panic, at 50? Relief!

Thank you Merle! Wisdom? Bits and pieces come through these days. You have it too, as do most of our brothers and sisters of middle age. The birth of wisdom is another blessing of aging.

I shouldn't whine. Sorry!

Andre Blackman said...

Reya, great words on this. I've been actually thinking about this alot more as many of us get more bogged down with "helpful" technology, always being on and available. We tend not to be able to step back and enjoy life.

I also might have an opportunity for you to take part in next week for canine dental health, a blogger event. Let me know if you would be interested:

Keep up the great work with the posting!

Adrianne said...

After reading the posts from yesterday and today and the comments on each, I offer the following thought on wisdom and age: some old people are wise, some old people are not wise, and some people are wise even in their youth (I'm thinking of the Sufi acupuncturist here -- what is he, 32?). It all depends on the journey a person has been on and what he or she has learned along the way. It's a highly individual business.

Cyndy said...

I like to think of myself as a tiny little piece of solidness that is shaped by the flow of things around me, but also by the flow of things from within.

I think that some people choose to continue to grow and change as they get older, but many people seem to reach a certain point and just stop.

Maybe that is an easier and more comfortable way to exist, but I think it has the potential to cause stagnation or smugness. I certainly hope that I can manage to hang loose indefinitely.

I love reading and thinking about what you've written!

phd girl said...

I've never thought of myself as solid, but I know others who are always describing themselves that way .

Steve said...

"A leaky boat" -- what a great image! Thanks so much for this beautiful, though-provoking post. And could you have found a more appropriate photo -- I don't think so!

lettuce said...

well sometimes i think its important to let go

and sometimes its important to hang on

i think i'm getting better at knowing which/when - maybe another benefit of age.

tut-tut said...

Reya: do you have an e-mail? I've got a question for you! You can e-mail me through my name (or you should . . .)

Dan Gurney said...

Well put. The most solid thing I can think of is our resistance to seeing/knowing how ephemeral our world is.