What is it that I find so delightful about individuals who decide to experiment -- without any sanction whatsoever -- with disciplines that are often walled-off and sanctified for a rare elite? Such, perhaps, was the successful premise of a 2006 movie called "The Astronaut Farmer," a somewhat far-fetched tale about a farmer who decides to build his own rocket with which to circle the earth.
The movie may have had a suspend-your-disbelief quality about it, but there was also a strange delight that it doesn't take a bureaucracy to have a dream and make that dream come true.
What excited a similar delight today was the news item about a fellow in Sweden who was arrested for trying to split atoms ... in his kitchen. I don't know diddly about splitting atoms, but I do know that there are billion-dollar laboratories around the world -- places chock-a-block with very savvy scientists -- dedicated to splitting atoms and following up on the implications and uses of actually doing it.
The man referred to his efforts as "a hobby" ... and somehow my heart soared. Was he a crackpot or a visionary? It makes no difference to me. The fact that he tried, quite on his own, impressed me.
And maybe that's a facet of what draws me to serious spiritual endeavor. All over the world, there are religious institutions, theologians, monks, nuns, tall spires, ancient texts, corrupt and pure agencies ... a veritable armada of experts and charlatans ... institutions and philosophies that are accepted and sometimes revered ... it's huge, huge-r, huge-st ... and in the end, the only thing that makes any sense is the crackpot and visionary in all of us, the one willing to try to split the atom in our own kitchens. All the rest is simply inspirational eyewash -- encouraging, perhaps, but not really convincing.
Can I do it? I don't know, but I damned sure am going to try.
Institutions and belief systems may try to shower me with their blessings, but it is the crackpots who actually try, despite all institutional blessing ... they are the ones who fill my heart with gladness. They are my brothers and sisters and I am glad if I can be included in their family.
No guts, no blue chips.
The crackpots have the guts. Win, lose or draw. Nut cases or visionaries. In jail or out. They bless me in ways that no institution ever can. They walk the walk. They are the one-man or one-woman revolutionaries. Thank you very much.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to go out to the kitchen, split my own versions of the atom, and make some oatmeal.