It’s a balmy day today in the Big City. It’s in the 40s, with some clouds and I think I’ll stroll the city streets and browse bookstores, perhaps take in a movie (There Will be Blood or The Savages). We should have longer weekends.
As soon as I get situated, I’m going to begin planning a huge 360/ Internet get together here in New York City. I used to do it every year, but last year was a wee bit unstable for me. Stay tuned…
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“They lied to you, sold you ideas of good and evil, gave you distrust of your body and shame for your prophethood of chaos, invented words of disgust for you molecular love, mesmerized you with inattention, bored you with civilization.”
— Hakim Bey
I once read a very interesting short story called “Pedestrian Accident.” It was part of an anthology of experimental fiction a girlfriend gave me and which quickly changed the way I read and wrote. The story is told completely from the perspective of a victim who has been struck by a truck and can’t move. His body is on the ground, halfway under the truck and he’s unable to move or talk. He can’t even move his head. All he can do is observe the happenings and there’s this whole inner dialogue going on inside his head. As the reader, this is your perspective also. The story, apart from being hilarious at times, is also very profound. In my opinion, the story is also a very apt metaphor for life.
Like the unfortunate protagonist in the story, it seems that we too have awakened to an accident. Our birth and lives surely seem this way. We don’t remember asking to be born or come to this planet and yet here we are innocent observers and victims alike at the scene of a grand cosmic accident. Numb and in shock, we weave and wander our way through the traffic of our lives, trying to remember the details. Furthermore, we seem to have suffered brain damage, having no memory of how we got here and even less about where we’re going.
Many of us live our lives traumatized, by accident, accepting the circumstances of our “fate.” Like the protagonist in our story, we’re at the whims of everybody around the scene of our accident pretending to be officials and authorities. While we may seem to make choices, we are really just treating our life as an accident and complaining about our bad luck, or trying to act cynical and witty and shrugging it off and settling for less. It could be worse, right? Or at least that’s what we begin to believe.
Numb and adrift we never become fully healed, never fully alive, never setting out to see what would happen if we didn’t live our lives by accident. However, the fact remains that this is your life and in the end you can’t say, “Ooops, it was an accident.” Then again, maybe you can. The choice is ours.
You must become who you are. A life lived chaotically at the whims of fashionable beliefs is not a life really lived at all. That kind of life is like a role inhabited by a stranger. It’s a life headed with a head-on collision with anger, regret, resentment, and self delusion. By treating your life as an accident, and therefore worthless, you cheat yourself. Only when you understand this will you experience the rage and anger at the forces within you and outside of you that keep you from your true self – your true potential. It’s not only your right but also your responsibility to reclaim your true self from the scene of the accident and to live your life fully, no matter the cost. We all have the potential to recover from the discovery that we are alive and that it’s not going to last.
Too many of us rely on belief systems that appeal to our deepest fears and longings as answers to our questions. Most belief systems are nothing more than the fossilized and t=rotted remains of what one person did for themselves. To examine our lives and make them worth living is the first step to acting deliberately and not accidentally. The word “deliberately” comes from the word “deliberation” which means to think. If we think our lives are accidents, then they will be.
Belief systems all contain very important truths, questions, and sometimes even some answers. However, at a very deep level they are not your truths, questions, or answers. By accepting the second-hand truths of others, we cheat ourselves of our true fulfillment. The hunger for fulfillment can only be satiated by our own efforts, by the planting of our own questions, by the harvesting our own answers, by the cultivation of our own truths.
Will you be content with the secondhand crumbs of someone else’s labors? The unexamined life is a life not worth living. You too can take charge of your life and reach deeply enough to discover what gives us joy and meaning.