I have been absent from this site for quite some time.  Yes, sending a missive to an old, worn, post box.  I love rust and age and faded colors as they are signs of use and adventure and wisdom gained therein.  I send a love letter from afar and months of silence.  I hope you might take it gently out of it’s envelope and listen in to the words written therein.

Part of that empty mail box has been because I do many other things, though the largest part of it is that, in the last year and several months, the amount of human and natural crises and concomitant “news reporting,” Facebook commenting and “Twitter OMGing” about all of them, had begun to reach deafening proportions.  I chose, deliberately, to “go quiet” and to explore, at a different level, how to be “in the world but not of the world.”  That is a daunting task for anyone seeking their own path:  those searching for “The Way” for themselves as individuals.  It is, indeed, the way that cannot be named  by anyone else but our own authentic selves.  That authentic self finds its way in the rhythms and laws of nature.  Within our “civilized” culture, it is most often shattered, fragmented and stifled in service to a need to create an enormous amount of human “noise” that drowns out the sounds of the flowing stream outside of our very own doors, the light that sifts through aspen leaves in Fall, the smell of wood smoke drifting from our own and neighbor’s wood stoves, and the sensations of a warm down comforter enveloping us in her folds on cold nights.  It is to the latter I have retreated for some time in order to re-gain and maintain my own reality of intimate relationship with Nature and The Way that cannot be named, but only felt at the internal, ambient light level.

Lao Tzu wrote that civilization destroys the natural self.  I find that this is so.  As a writer, I am told that I MUST publish something every week, MUST maintain a current “presence” on the internet, MUST establish and pursue a “unique niche” in the cyberspace of the internet or, well, face failure.

But failure of what, exactly?  Failure to participate in the mindless pursuit of money?  Failure to find my sense of meaning in external, transient possessions of the material kind?  Failure to accumulate debt in order to create the illusion of wealth?  Failure to contribute to the cacophanous screaming of our collective human noosphere?  Failure to be dragged around and about by our constant, myopic attention to particular events, like a leaf blown about in our swirling Fall winds?  Failure to grasp onto and hold with bared teeth and sharpened fingernails all of that which will, in the end, fade away into the timeless void?  Failure to obey the rules and regulations of a punitive and dominant, judgmental way of relating?  Well, then, I accept my failures with pride and joy.

These past 15 months for me have been about a next step in letting go of the requirements of what we consider a civilized way of being in order to belong or to be recognized or admired.  All of those things are part and parcel of a tw0-dimensional way of being that american culture has embraced to the hilt which, indeed is, as the Bard so eloquently noted, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.” (Macbeth).  As we know from that play, civilization, based on hierarchy, was defined by power and glory, murder and bloodshed which, ultimately, ends in the realization that civilization, ” . . . is a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.”

Any part of and all of the Tao can be found in any modern work, if one is willing to read beneath the lines and discern the fallacies and foibles of human constructs.  Shakespeare’s insights into the destructive forces of civilization, which encompass ambition, murder, paranoia, madness and mayhem are a reflection of Lao Tzu’s own experiences as a clerk in the high courts of ancient China.  In disgust at humanity and its artificial machinations, Lao Tzu one day chose to get on his donkey and ride out from the city into the wilderness, where he lived his later days in silent obscurity within Nature and her constantly changing ways.  As my own teacher in Taoist philosophy always said, “Nothing changes – there is no difference between what Lao Tzu dealt with 2500 years ago and what we deal with today.”  He is correct.

Clean and rich and pure in sight, sound, touch, smell and the ultimate resting place of silence far beyond the walls of fear that bind civilization to itself and lead to its ultimate destruction, that is where The Way and Lao Tzu reside.

The philosophy of the Tao has never failed me, in all these years, and I choose that way, too.  Through the cycles of conception, gestation, birth, life, decay, death and conception again, The Tao teaches us the eternal way of The Way, which has no beginning and no end and which cannot and does not abide by the artificial rules of dominion humans always try to place upon those cycles.

There is no fitting a square peg into a round hole here.  One either lets go into the round of eternal existence or one “squares” one’s self into a linear narrative that will cease to exist when our physical bodies and the “civilized” rules that governed our time here do.  It takes courage and fortitude to do the former.  Cowardice and conformity rule the latter.

Find your right shape, follow it’s contours through your life and you will be all right.

Send your true self off in a balloon and watch yourself rise above our collective, earthly and contrived constraints.

Take that higher self, in the balloon, and translate it into our earthly sphere on your own terms, with your own authenticity and eternal self in mind.  This is how one might find the way to be “in the world, but not of the world.”  Your higher self will never be “of” the world, though you can find a way to function “in” this world – crazy as it is.