Being and Becoming…
From the moment we stepped out of our animal nature, and drew the world as we saw it 35,000 years ago in the caves of France (and recently discovered in Indonesia as well) – we realized in a flash of insight, that we are both being, and becoming.
We emerged out of ourselves and into an observing mind – painting what Clayton Eshleman called “postcards of nostalgia“. Feeble – yet mystically beautiful attempts at reconciling our separation from Nature, now irrevocable. At once a part of, yet looking at, the Garden of Eden – restless, dreaming, frightened, enthralled.
Asking “how?” and “why?”
The San people, the original people, the great forefathers and mothers of all modern peoples, know that the Mother of the Bees is the wife of the Great God who created all things.
The sacred sights are not just the dream-spaces of myth. The sacred, first encountered, lives in the returned memories of that inner space of the no-time/space of our third eye. Living in that place that is both quantum and exogenous to our being.
A hill played upon on long summer days as a boy. A creek where I watched a deer come to drink – as we raced barefoot through the forest.
One day, now long ago, when my little Hunter was about two or maybe just a little less than two-and-a-half, back when we still tracked her age in months, we were playing with her dolls on the floor of her bedroom. She thought she had “discovered” where babies came from and so we were playing a game she called “Mommy”.
In this game she would take a much smaller doll and place it under the dress of a larger doll. And then she would pull it out from under that dress – as if by magic! – and the baby would be “born!”. And Hunter would then of course take the newborn baby in her arms and be the little baby’s “mommy”. Hunter would act just like her mother. Just like the universal mother. She would rock little baby “Jasmine” in her arms, cooing and fondling over her, feeding and clothing and nursing her, and she would place her baby amongst her assortment of little teddy bears and she would tell them all magical stories that were big, and full of wonder. There were thrills and rescues and evil tricks and heroes of all types: the awesome dragon protector, the beautiful princess, the loving mother, the towering father, the magic wizard.
“Daddy” she said while searching through her bag for a dress for her new baby. “How do babies get in mommy’s tummy?”
“You buy the seeds at the baby store” I say, smiling at her. “And mommy eats them. And then she stands outside so that the sun can shine in her ear and the seed grows and a baby pops out of her side.”
“They do not!” she said with a smile. “Mommy said I came out of where she pees.”
“She did?! Really?! Did you not come out of her bellybutton? How strange!”
“Daddee…you’re silly. Where do babies come from?”
“Daddy has a seed”, I tell her, “and it joins mommy’s seed and it makes a baby”.
“Oh” was all she said as she went on to explain this to her own baby girl.
I watched her for a moment before asking “What was it like when you were born? Do you remember?”
“It was cold and bright”, she said. “I didn’t like it.”
“Really!? You remember?”
“I didn’t like it.”
Where did you come from”, I asked?
“From mommy’s tummy”, she said.
“I know that, silly. I mean, where did you come from before that?”
“The other side.”
“What other side?” I asked in amazement.
“I don’t know,” she said distractedly, placing her newly-found dress over her baby’s head. “The other side before I was here.”
I thought about this for a moment – “the other side, before I was here” – and then asked the next logical question – “I wonder what happens when we die?”
“We go back where we came from”, she said matter-of-factly as she re-arranged the disheveled hair on her doll’s head while looking around for some play diapers.
My little Hunter still remembered (at the time) of being born into the cold, and the bright, and that she didn’t like it. And that we go back to where we came from.
Being. And becoming.
The act of awakening.
The great human struggle is the battle to discover the truth – discovering the line between our Divine Calling and being Human. For we are – each of us – human and Divine (although rarely at the same time). Being and Becoming. Or, as John O’Donohue once observed, “living between the act of awakening and the act of surrendering”.
Now, three centuries after the glorious birth of the Enlightenment, modernism has been flayed beyond recognition by the Great Wars, and trammelled to dust by our growing awareness of our environmental decay. The internet has made us all cynical slaves to our ultimate addiction. Passive. Defeated. The core principles of the Enlightenment – rationalism, truth, equality – are now openly dismissed by those who believe that blind allegiance to the authority of the surveillance state and religious dogma will be our only viable exit plan.
We know that we do not know why it is we are still going forward, or why we even get up in the morning, and for what reason, why, and for what purpose, why, and to where we are going, why? We first turned away from God, and have now turned away from our faith in reason and the principles of justice and equality, and we are again groping around in the dark, looking for the safety of again reaching up for our Father’s firm hand, wanting to surrender to a power greater than ours; to be told that it’s okay, we are safe, that it was not our fault, that we didn’t know any better, that it is going to be all right, that even though the Antarctic ice sheet is now melting beyond our control, there was nothing else we could have done.
Nietzsche foretold that we would declare our triumph over God and church and we would seek to take state control of our own destiny. But he also knew human nature and he knew we would eat ourselves in the name of progress and glory, and that we would then ask for forgiveness, and would God please come back into our lives. Would God please come back and fix everything? Because we would be old and afraid; because we would be leading lives of quiet desperation.
“…After all, there are no innocent bystanders. What are we doing here in the first place? The worst sin of man is to be born.” The lament of William Burroughs. The lament of us all. For each of us stands naked and alone before the world. I am me! That is all. I awaken from a dream and the dream is my life. I awaken and I am alone. With the wind and the rain; with the concrete under my feet, and the sun on my face.
I stand alone with time. I stand alone in the great void between Being. And Becoming.
Nietzsche was right. Time is running out for us aging baby boomers. Every day a thousand Canadians turn sixty-five. In America it is 10,000. We will soon start dropping off like so-many honey flies trapped against the windowpane in my mother’s barn.
And we are only now, just now, realizing that we still have so very much riding on the lies.