Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pathways and Prunings (a post-New Hampshire post)

Dynamic interconnectedness [describes] the physical world as the sort of thing that imagination and desire can effect. The magician's world is an independent whole, a web of which no strand is autonomous. Mind and body, galaxy and atom, sensation and stimulous, are intimately bound [...]all things are independent and interrelated.
-Alan G. Hefner (paraphrasing the Emerald Tablet)

As above, so below.
-Hermes Trismegistus

September 5, 2009
"I woke up this morning feeling incredibly grumpy - poor sleep, and dreams in which people I trust became unapologetically opportunistic, and I kept waiting in line at an airport to
exchange my ticket for a later flight so I could spend more time visiting family, only every time I almost reached the front of the line, I'd rush off to take care of something pressing, and then have to stand in line all over again. Sometimes my subconscious is not very subtle.
"All of which has me thinking about choices and relationships and pruning. Neural pruning, to be specific, and its intimate relationship with walking one's Path; the way it mirrors in minute detail the larger decisions and actions we take. Micro and macro, internal and external. Spirit and corporeal. Art and life."

September 25, 2009
Oh yes, I spent lots of time in New Hampshire thinking about pruning (plants, neurons, options) and pathways (neural pathways, spacial pathways, rivers and arteries and the metaphoric roads we walk and stray from and return to again...). Not surprising, then, to upload the photos from those weeks and find most of the landscapes and plant images following the same theme. Straight paths, branching stems, growth and blossoms and fruits - each one representative of the myriad other choices that never came to fruition; the three hundred and fifty nine other directions one could have chosen to walk, but didn't.

The thing I kept coming back to was the fact that growth, whether in plants or people, requires both movement and purpose. And I love moving, cannot sit still in joy without getting antsy for new experiences and wisdom and ideas, do not want to stagnate...above all, Goddess, I do not want to stagnate. But decisiveness? Clarity of purpose? For all my bossiness and spontaneity, I can get so bogged down with the weight of making the best choice that it's difficult to make any choice at all.

I think, when I bring my Shadow into enough light to look at her, that my core fear is that I will miss out on the beauty and opportunity and tasks that the world holds for me; that I will not make the most of this precious, finite spark of a life. And so I get impatient and anxious when I feel like time is being wasted.
(People say -so casually!- that they're "killing time". Killing time! Here we are with this tiny, minute, indescribably brief snippet of existence, this blazing chance to illuminate even the slightest, most hidden corner of cosmic darkness, and you're content to "kill time"?? Can you at least comprehend my urgency?)
I know not everyone feels this way. But I do, and so I find that unless I either coat each moment with enough ritual to give it Import, or hide inside procrastination, to find myself in stasis means tuning in to the one omnipresent, pulsing question that every creature faces:

How do I make the most of this brief amount of time?

It's obvious that this is not an easy way to experience the world. I don't know if it's a sign that I'm greedy, wanting to embrace and experience all that I can while I'm here, or that I'm farsighted, aware of all the multitudes of possibilities that extend in every direction and wanting to explore as many as I can. But it makes for a lot of pressure.
People whose opinions I really respect have a tendency to say I'm too hard on myself. Maybe, but it's because I care, and I believe: in myself, and in the work, and in others, which is -incidentally- why I'm no harder on myself than I am on anybody else. When I push, it's because I cannot stand to see this life, this infinite capacity for joy, be wasted. Because to do less -to not accept and embrace these gifts - would be such hubris on our parts.

One thing I do know is that without clarity, pressure like this can easily lead to chaos, or (ironically) stagnation: if you constantly find yourself at the center of an ever-changing wheel of possibilities, trying to experience each spoke means you're in for an awful lot of running and returning to the middle, and not a lot of rest. Unless you've got a different way of traveling (yes, my shamanic, visionary friends, I'm talking to you). Or you're willing to let go of the other paths.

Which leads us to pruning.

Ironically, I take great joy in pruning (when I finally do it); perhaps because it's initially so difficult. By the time I let myself submit to universal laws, there's pleasure in the aquiescence. And there is grace in letting go, in chopping down and moving on and the tangible, finite act of one foot in front of the other.
That there's pain in it, too -wrenching, aching soulwounds- goes without saying.
I'm still mourning the recent prunings and parings of this past year. At this point, though, the only choice I have is to keep walking my path, one foot in front of the other, with faith that I'm journeying in the right direction. And it might hurt, and it might be asking too much of myself at times. But it's the price I choose to pay for a life well lived. I can ask no more of myself than that.

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