Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Death And Rebirth


I think I'll start all over again      and I do
but then almost choke on a gulp of coffee

so begins another day    the angel is mute
there are various achings in different places
many paths branch off   which should I take?

not to be too cavalier about such things
each heartbeat subtracts me toward--what?
heaven   hell   oblivion   dark energy waking?

I don't want to slide from my old dead skin

I don't want to feel utterly bare and new
defenseless at dawn    exposed to noon
shrouded by the cold shadows of dusk

I don't want to grow  change   die   be born
still    it happens    I surrender    then bow

the fist of my wound hasn't unclenched yet
I still brandish it before me like a shield

but     little by little     fingers break open

as petals packed inside a bursting bud
unfurl to drink the golden light


There is no death. Only
a change of worlds.

-- Chief Seattle --


     No indeed, I don't want to shuck off my old dead skin. It may be worn out and useless now, even an impediment. But at least it's familiar. Once it served and protected me. I could not have survived without it. When I emerge completely and abandon this threadbare husk, I'll feel naked, exposed, vulnerable. Why can't I just stay here, hunker down, and somehow still get by?

     Well, for starters, because I won't "somehow still get by." If I don't grow forward, then inexorably I'll slide back. The status quo is no longer an option--if it ever was. To be alive is to be changing. My freedom is a choice: continue to evolve, facing courageously toward the unknown; or retreat into a suffocatingly decaying shell which ultimately will become my spirit's shroud.

     There's no going back to how things were. I've burned my bridges behind me. I must commit wholeheartedly, keep exploring. What I seek to discover is nothing less than a new, integrated, more authentic self--not totally altered, not utterly unfamiliar; yet transformed, balanced, whole, in a way I've never known before.

     This sounds like a grim struggle, and there's no question at times it's just that. Fear is a powerful false god. I hold on fiercely, let go painfully, grope onward grudgingly. Often it seems I only break out--break through--when I'm forced to, because staying where I am deteriorates into a living nightmare.

     But if that's all there is--desperately trying to escape more suffering--I realize it simply isn't enough. As Thomas Hobbes contended, my existence would be little more than "...nasty, brutish and short." Temporarily avoiding more agony is no sufficient prescription for curing my deepest wound. It reads more like a motto etched with acid over the gates of hell.

     The greatest incentive for embracing growth and change doesn't drive me on, it draws me on. Not desperation, but inspiration, is my overriding motive. I've caught the scent of something miraculous--a healed soul, a redeemed love, a renewed life. Now, nothing less will ever satisfy.

     Here at this pivot point, with these words, I choose life, not death; change, not stagnation; the future, not the past. And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow I must make the same fateful choice again and again and again. This is my stringent trial, my divine right, my sacred gift. This is the decisive crossroad of my human freedom.


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