Monday, June 8, 2009

history lessons

If I were to sum it up as a news story, yesterday consisted of zazen in the morning, my son's baseball game in the afternoon, and a dinner for the young baseball players in the early evening. Short and sweet and not a day that would excite much interest. It's history now and history is the summing up or bracketing or limiting of what actually happened, whether interesting or prosaic.

But before it became history, before it became something that could be described, it was alive and inexplicable. It was what actually happened ... right now. It was not something that could be skipped over with a blase nod or a fit of boredom or even seen as a matter of intense curiosity or interest. It could not be balanced or compared. Love, hate, anger, serenity, effort, wisdom, laughter and tears: It was alive in a way that no history or news story could capture. Ever.

Did you ever notice in your own life that you might try to tell a friend (or even yourself) of some compelling experience of the past and no matter how hard you tried, there was always something missing, some factor that made the whole exercise inaccurate, somehow? What was "now" when the event or circumstances arose is simply no longer "now." And here you sit, "remembering" as if you could actually remember and be accurate.

No one wants to be consigned to "history," and yet no matter how hard anyone tries, still they are consigned to "history." The wounds and wows of what came before are gone, however much they may linger and inform the now. In the present, nothing is missing. Everything reaches out and touches everything else. It is alive as you are alive. Your whole life is nothing other than this zazen, this baseball game, this endless chatter about the feats of young athletes. But by the time you notice any of it, by the time you assert it, it has lapsed into history. From limitless to limited in less than a nanosecond. Instantaneous history...endless history. It may be infuriating as hell (we are, after all, terrifically important to ourselves), but I think it is a fact.

What then are the lessons that our histories teach? What useful role does history play as we enter and exit these endless moments that cannot be contained or limited in any way ... the moments that cannot honestly be 'entered' or 'exited' but are simply who we are ... neither limited nor unlimited?

The best I can think of is this: Make a mistake, correct it.

This, of course, opens the question of what could possibly be a mistake.

Which points, without recourse, to the recognition that you might as well ...

Enjoy yourself.

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