Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Give It Up

I’ve been wanting to expound more on the whole “give it up” concept, which has many ramifications. At the most primary level, “give it up” can refer to our false sense of identity with the personality. It can also refer to “giving up” control of our life in order to find our deeper identity. It can also refer to “giving up” distractions, or overwork, or a career, or a relationship, or an addiction, or anything that’s standing in the way of your spiritual unfoldment or self-actualization..

“Give it up” can mean different things to different individuals, and can change for a person as time goes on.

Personally, I’ve already been wherever I could ever imagine wanting to be, but like the prodigal son I insisted on sleeping with the swine anyway. “To see what it was like,” no doubt. “Get back to where you once belonged” has been my theme song for a good long time now.

When I first moved onto this piece of land next to the Rio Grande in 1973, I experienced a pattern of blessed events that I appreciated at the time, but lacked the ability to integrate into any kind of stable reality. This pattern lasted for several years, maybe 2 or 3. Not necessarily every day, but frequently enough that I have always remembered it: Powerful dreams whose energy would linger for hours, or sometimes the entire next day. From this I gained the insight that Freud, Jung, and the “dream analysts” were barking up the wrong tree, concentrating on the “meaning” of dreams, or in other words, trying to reduce dreams to words. It’s like trying to reduce life to words. Sure, you can do it, but you trivialize it in the process. In the case of dreams, it seemed obvious to me that what’s important about them is the ENERGY (or whatever you want to call it) they can impart. Waking from a powerful dream reminded me of how a large bell still vibrates long after you can no longer hear it. This reminded me of the aboriginal “dreamtime” – the waking world augmented by, and colored by, dream energy. Talk about a subtle nuance in a culture consumed by “stuff!”

On a typical day I would wake up with my gong still vibrating, as it were, and all would be right with the world. Often I would pick up my dulcimer and make music. I don’t remember many details except that I felt filled with creativity, and made lots of music. One more thing: it usually wore off by midmorning.

My life at the time had other aspects: we were desperately poor, and I felt terribly isolated. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night, consumed by financial anxiety. There seemed to be no outlets for my creativity, which I desperately wanted to share. My homestead was a raw piece of land, and unproductive for the most part. My life, which in some ways had barely begun, felt stymied.

Skipping over the intervening years, which are a story Laura has always encouraged me to tell, we arrive at the present, and what do we find? For one, my homestead is almost finished, finally. A few more water catchment tanks, another room onto my tool shed, refurbishing my solar heater, windmill, and solar water heater, and I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be. I’m making the final push, and have been for over a year now, and in the process have become very physical and goal-directed at the expense of the finer vibrations. But the present pattern seems totally appropriate for this point of time. Finishing up while the economy crashes around me seems like good timing. But I do miss those subtle vibrations.

I have always wondered about my dreamtime escapades of 1973-75. Was it sheer youthful animal vitality? Was my isolation actually a good thing in the monastic sense? Did my poverty and consequent lack of destructive activity put me into inadvertent harmony with the Earth Mother? And the most important question of all: Can I get back to where I once belonged? Or move forward into something even better? As my life reaches its final stages can I finally stop working so hard, and start taking fuller advantage of the little reality bubble I’ve created here? What do I have to give up to get there?

Some things are obvious: Stop being so dependent on money. Stop making so much money. Stop spending so much money. Stop driving so much. Stop working so hard. Gosh, this sounds like retirement, doesn’t it? Retire from the busy-ness into a more contemplative and creative life pattern. Sounds good, except that I’m part of a family that still needs plenty of money at the present time. So any changes will have to be gradual. I’ve known for a long time that this would ultimately happen, and I’m glad that I’m finally able to dip my toe in the water from time to time. I’m looking forward to a good long swim.

Like I said, “give it up” can mean different things to different people. But there are also common factors. For one, I think most of us, including myself, can stand to give up our addiction to the consumer lifestyle. Life has so much more to offer. Big changes are finally on our doorstep, and the best thing we can do is open the door and welcome them in.