Sunday, October 08, 2006

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Innocent When You Dream

When I was 19, truth came, at best, in the form of hard-bound Buddhist script and at worst in dreamy new-age philosophy. I was naive, or you might say innocent. Yet there is another innocence that life has to offer:

The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life.

What struck me about this passage from Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf is the phrase "further into sin, ever deeper into human life." It suggests that our salvation lies in our ability not to transcend, but to decend into darkness.

As I have gotten older I have found that the teachers of this discipline, the discipline of decending, have taught me that redemption comes not at pearly gates, but in rusted gutters. Tom Waits, Charles Bukowski, Nan Golden, and Langston Hughes; these masters knew that America dresses itself in freedom like a porcupine in lingerie. Something just doesn't fit. Freedom isn't the flag you wave, but the risks you take. Inevitably then, freedom involves immense loss. We are all broken in our own way yet also so full of beauty and intention. Love doesn't come from a tantric meditation or an asian guru. Love is as simple as saying that the man the jail cell deserves as much as the man in the tower. Love is what happens when you cancel the equations of earning and spending. How then can one person matter anymore than another? If we cannot abstain from equating self-worth with economics there really is no hope. Many genius' are poor, many villians are rich. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about a country like ours is that it is full of revealing contradictions. The bum and the billionare alike will die very hurt or very loved, probably both.

So a drink to those who have lived unholy, sinful lives- full of secrets they have always have wanted to reveal. A drink to those who took freedom seriously enough to say goodbye to what was easy. And one drink too, for those who let fear dictate routine. A drink to all those lovable and fallible and ultimately innocent of all creatures: humans.