A few years ago, my Zen master sat me down and told me something like this: “Okay, I’m going to tell you the answer to everything. <answer here>. Now, show your work.”
I was immediately taken back to Chemistry II in High School. I was not the greatest science student, and struggled mightily with the formulas. My teacher often took pity on me and let me have the answers from the back of the textbook. But I always had to show my work, the path I took from start to finish. That was what I was being graded on, and it was the only thing that counted.
Still is. The answer is pretty neat, but the magic is how we show our work, with our lives, with our actions and thoughts, with how we treat each other and perhaps most importantly how we treat ourselves.
So let’s get out our lab notebooks and pencils and all the supplies we need, and get to it.
In the Hero’s Journey that I see most often in stories, the hero, driven by great need, leaves the safety of the familiar and ventures into the dark places of the world. I’d always thought that would be the way of it for me. Wow, was I wrong.
My version has been more of a reveal that I’ve been in the dark forest all along, and for some time. I’ve been going through my life imagining otherwise. More of a Matrix situation, or living with the Lotus Eaters of Homer’s Odyssey. There’s been a grand and messy reveal. I’ve been Quantum Leaped into my own body. Oh boy.
But I’m here now. The lotus flower has been wrested from my hand, and I cannot go back to the way things were. This is a one-way trip.
I find myself sitting in the beautiful wreckage of my own life, scanning the inner and outer horizons, getting a sense of this reality. There are dangers that repulse me and luminous things that make me weep with delight.
I find that I have more power and capability than I ever imagined. A decade of fighting with depression and self-forgetting has somehow sneakily forged me into a badass. That’s the other half of losing the lotus – the full nature of the forest is revealed, but also the glamor of my life has dissolved, and I see that I have, and always have had, the wits and weapons and heart to make my way.
I’ve lost track of how many iterations of this site I’ve had over the years, but welcome to the new one.
The previous host of the site went belly-up and didn’t bother to tell me, so this domain has been profoundly broken for at least a year. As I’m reducing my social media footprint, it becomes more important that people have a way to find me, and slightly less important that I have a way to add my small voice into the internet maelstrom.
This is generally the post that contains grand expectations, the New Year’s Resolution to end all others. Nothing like that here, let’s see what happens.