In the big scheme of things, it's a minor matter that has nonetheless taken up a number of hours of my time: A small-claims court action that seeks to retrieve something more than $500 in repair payments I was forced to make after my son was in a fender-bender accident late last year.
The hearing will be on Wednesday, and yesterday, I put the final touches on the evidence and argument I wish to present. It cost me fifty bucks to file for the hearing so the total out-of-pocket costs are something like $550.
Because I have never been to small claims court, I have few means of knowing exactly what the hearing will entail. I just don't know and, as a result, I have put together three folders -- one for me, one for the defendant and one for the court -- containing arguments, photos and documents pertaining to the accident. About 25 pages. It took some energy and maybe 20 hours to compile the information ... which, I suspect, will be enormously more than will ever get any attention in a busy courtroom.
I have a goal. The ostensible goal is to get my $550 back. I want to win and have done everything I can think of to achieve that win.
But the fact is that the $550 is secondary. The win is secondary. The fact is that, for all my preparation, I am prepared to lose. Not happy or sad -- just prepared. In reality, I have paid $50 for a chance to give it my best shot. I have paid $50 to step into a world I know little or nothing about. I have spent hours gathering data that may or may not win the day. I have done what I could to do ... what, in the end?
And the only answer I can come up with is ... to step into a future I have no capacity to define or assure. I may hope and believe all I like, but once you step off a cliff, there is nothing to do but fall. Imagining there are any hand-holds left is just that ... imagining.
In spiritual life, I think it is much the same -- gathering as much intellectual and emotional information as possible and then ... stepping off a cliff with no way of knowing the result. Stepping off the spiritual cliff -- putting all the hopes and fears and beliefs and longings into a single basket and then, one evening perhaps, going to a center where there is a practice that will either prove or disprove all of the internal, elegant, caterwauling information. And the proof will not come from that single evening (or perhaps it will). Years and years may pass before what was once an aspiration or a longing receives a credible answer... an answer based on experience and not just elegant internal brush strokes.
Isn't it the same in any moment? There simply is no knowing what will happen in the next second or minute or hour or day or year or lifetime. All the squirrely, educated, intricate, control-freak belief and hope and belief may find some credibility in what actually happens, but it will never find complete credibility. Only what is right in front of our noses, right now, can do that.
The habit may persist -- inching up on the cliff, gathering and collating information in a fender-bender accident, collecting information and belief about a spiritual persuasion, moving through a work day with as much skill as anyone might muster -- but the fact is that we are always jumping off the cliff. Ever and forever jumping off the cliff. And with practice, it's no longer an eeeek. It's quite a lot of fun. What actually happens is far more interesting and exact than what I imagined might happen. Yes, you might die ... but since that's already in the cards, why not enjoy the spices offered along the way?
Off the cliff .... wheeeeeee!
The fender-bender hearing is scheduled Wednesday. I paid $50 to find out what sort of wheeee the adventure might be. I worked hard to assure what I cannot assure. I'm just an ordinary fool.
Being a fool is not so bad. But not enjoying it seems pretty foolish.