Sunday, September 20, 2009
Kami Wisdom or The Art Of Happiness
One morning a sage went up a mountain and gazed around him at the earth and the sky and he pondered a question- how to make happiness stay? Because happiness is like a bubble made of glass- beautiful and fragile, but if you squeeze too hard, it will break and the shards will cut your hands to ribbons. Now, I"m not saying I"m a sage(except it really was me on a mountain-tell you more later) but even I know the answer to holding on to happiness. You can"t grip it too tightly. Now, here's where it gets tricky. How do you keep from gripping too tightly when happiness is so necessary in life? I said that right. Happiness is a necessity. Not a luxury. But very few people have that necessity or can keep it long enough for it to do any good in their lives or anyone else's. They clutch at it like bums clutching hooch, and when it's gone, (continuing my bum simile) all you see later is broken glass shards on the sidewalk. When I went up the side of the mountain, I didn't know what I would find. On that particular day it was windy, so windy that when I finally reached the tiny lookout overlooking my island, I was literally bent over from the buffets. So it took a moment, before I could look up enough to see how beautiful everything was. I don't know if I was on the highest point in the islands, but if a higher view was available I didn't need to see it. What I could see already was exhilirating. All of the Goto islands laid out before me, clouds passing across the sky like ... well, like clouds- only really fast. The waves looked like a Japanese wood cut painting with white crests splashing in a blue-green ocean. It looked the way it might have looked to Odysseus or other ancient sailors. And the sound- waves lapping, the wind blowing so hard, I had to hold on to the railing surrounding the building, because it was a looong way down. And when I looked to my left- I saw two Goto hawks playing in the updrafts and calling to each other. For a moment, I was happy- not thinking, not musing, not tired. And then I thought why can't I be this happy all the time? And I ruined it. Thankfully, the hawks came back and this time I was smart enough to shut up the little hamster that runs on its wheel in my head and just be in the moment. Now I know for all those people who have read books on how to be happy, books on meditation, books on philosophy that this is just too simple an answer for how to live a fulfilling life. To those people, and the authors of those books, I say...shut up. I have had my share of tears in the night, and nightmares during the day. I know that just saying "Don't worry, be happy" is a sappy cop out of an answer. I know that "fear is the little death" is a pandering backhanded way to say you should just get over it... but I also know that in their archaic way, cliches tell the truth. "It is what it is, we are what we it, there are no mistakes. " (Courtesy Tom Robbins- author- Even Cowgirls Get The Blues- read it-great book. ) I know that holding happiness seems like a simple task, but it is also the most important work that we will ever do. And like any simple task, it is also the most misunderstood, and most complicated to actually achieve - sort of like "love thy neighbor as thyself." We are not the people we think we are, or even who we pretend to be. The good thing is that we don't have to be. The best thing is that we can be better. We are twisted people (at least I am) and we are desperately afraid that our love is twisted (come on , 'fess up) And it is. But then the course of true love n'eer did run true, did it? The best we can do..is our best. We can hold children's hands and learn to grasp; not squeeze, not control, not cage. We can blow soap bubbles,and learn to hold our breaths and breath lightly and gently. We can watch hawks and remember how to fly (we always knew- haven't you ever had the flying dream?) We can watch waves and remember what it was like to dance in the womb. We can spread love. We can spread happiness. (sort of like Mad Cow Disease) We know happiness. We just don't claim it, or when we do, we grasp it too hard, like crushing a sparrow. Some of us disdain it and give it no place to stay. But we all know it- we all secretly wish for it. We all can have it. It's simple. It's easy. Feel pain- the pain of being human, and fearful and angry and hurt. And then stop. Boy, doesn't it feel good when you stop pressing that sore tooth? Stop lingering in hurt- hoping that it will fill up the spaces where happiness should be. Happiness doesn't stay- it shouldn't, it can't. But make room for it anyway. Give it a temporary home, and like any listless college student, it will return to you- not as often as you'd like, but more often than you think. I spent some time on a mountain- I climbed it in sweat, covered with spider webs (you know I don't like spiders) and buffeted by the winds. And when I got to the top, the kami- the mountain, was waiting for me, like the hawks, like the clouds, like the sea. It waited for me to have time for it, and space for it, and the heart for the climb. When I was ready, it was there. I will not remember every moment of my time on the mountain- happiness is not about remembering. Happiness is about being. For a little while, I was one little being, being in the moment, on top of a mountain- and I was happy. Now don't let me bore you with the story of the climb down the mountain. Let's just say there were more spiderwebs when I finished. But I remember the feel of wind in my hair, and my eyes remember the sight of waves on the sea, and my ears remember the terrible, lonely, exhilirated cries of hawks on the wind. Little moments in time, which I hope to continue to accumulate for a lifetime. A lifetime of moments, taken one by one. To see a world in a grain of sand..or a mountain- to see happiness lie gently, in the palm of one's hand. It is possible. The mountain told me so.