Finding Peace in Fluidity
"The web of life is a beautiful and meaningless dance. The web of life is a process with a moving goal. The web of life is a perfectly finished work of art right where I am sitting now." -Robert Anton Wilson
As you've likely figured out if you have been following is this series of essays is that they are really about nothing. Absurdism. A universe without meaning or purpose. Or a universe with infinite meaning and purpose. Yin-Yang. The idea of nothing implies everything and vice versa. Ow. I already need an aspirin and a coffee.
One of the most disconcerting yet empowering things about acknowledging the fluid normal is just that. It is fluid, ever changing, and we can never know with 100% certainty what will come next. Anyone that has gotten 'that phone call that has changed everything' knows the feeling. Our ideas of what the future holds are based on what we have experienced in the past. It also means that the future holds infinite possibilities. As the adage goes, all that truly exists is the present.
Hold on a second. Is this turning into some new age, neo-Buddhist, hippie, "you gotta go with the flow man", rant? Nah. Well, not exactly. Let me explain where this comes from for me.
Over the years I have spoken with many people that are either dealing with similar brain surgery or Multiple Sclerosis. In either case the two most common feelings that come up are anger and fear. Every feeling is valid and an important part of wrapping our mind around it but that's the thing. Wrapping your mind around something, even as a turn of phrase, implies mastery. There is no mastery of the fluid normal.
One of my favorite Alan Watts quotes is "To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float." To me this faith he refers to so not a faith in something external but a faith in yourself. However long you've been here you have been dealing with reality just fine. I think that is the definition of being in the present. Not worrying about the past or the future and having faith or a better word "trust" that you will deal with whatever when it comes, good or bad.
Man. This is getting all Zen and stuff now. Well, kinda. I'm by no means any kind of authority in anything really. I play the bass gud and write some nice tunes and stuff. That is my favorite thing about some of these concepts. Many philosophies and religions are looking for answers from some external force. Here we are more thinking about the answers, or lack there of, being in you all along.
One of the most noggin blowing texts I've read is a little book called Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. In the book Eugen, German professor of philosophy, is teaching in Japan and attempts to "study" Zen but goes on quite a different journey than he expected. You see, we have this idea that study of something should give us mastery over it. That is assuming that this illusive something is external and can be mastered.
Two quotes have really stuck with me over the years from this book.
"Be like a child holding a finger. It grips it so firmly that one marvels at the strength of the tiny fist. And when it lets go there is not the slightest jerk. Do you know why? Because the child does not think 'I will let go of the finger and grasp another thing'. Completely unselfconsciously, without purpose it turns from one to the other..."
"The right art is purposeless and aimless. The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal the less you will succeed. What stands in the way is you too much willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself will not happen"
Willful will. So these feelings of fear and anxiety come from the concept of too much willful will. I find the last two lines of the second quote particularly interesting. The concept of 'willful will' and the concept of essentially trying to micromanage everything. Like I've said before the only thing you can really control is your conscious self. The anxiety and fear comes when events don't play out in your head as you predicted them too. Trust yourself to the water or the fluidity of reality as it were and have faith you'll know what to do with the future when you get there.
Or maybe not.