“Keep on dancing until the daylight,
Breathe the morning air in song.
No one’s noticed but the band’s all packed and gone;
Was it ever here at all?
But they keep on dancin’…”
–John Perry Barlow
Salaam! Peace be upon you.
I hope that your Days of Midsummer were glorious, eventful, joyful, and filled with meaning – as mine were. If you come here regularly, you may have noticed a bit of a two-week absence on my part, and I hope you’ll excuse it. The additional time and work required in my capacity as wizard in the time surrounding High Holy Holidays demands a bit of a lazy period on the back end, to compensate.
Even as my fourteen official days of commemoration (along with many of the days before and after) were, indeed, glorious, eventful, joyful, and filled with meaning, and even in my capacity as wizard facilitating these frivolities in however loose a fashion, there are yet moments in which I have a very difficult time avoiding feeling oppressed. I swear, I’m not trying to be dramatic about it. But I devote a good portion of my thought (and writing, if you’ve been following along) to ways in which we can individually liberate ourselves by exercising control over our internal lives even when we have no control over our external circumstances. I think I’m correct to take this approach – it’s my intentional objective – but that’s what makes doubt and self-contradiction all the more devastating.
You see, the fact that I recognize that realistically, our best chance for any kind of success comes from the liberation of the spirit, that doesn’t silence that part of me which demands not just a better spirit but a better society. It seems that no matter what I do, I can’t stave off the thoughts that suggest all this spiritual edification nonsense is just a waste of time if we aren’t doing anything to correct the injustices and balance the excesses of the world around us – and I’m not talking about changing lives by smiling at people and being polite. I find myself frequently and against my will extremely concerned with the nature of the nation and culture in which we live and ostensibly participate.
I’m not trying to be dramatic, nor am I looking to make this into a purely political discussion. In fact, for once, I’m not even looking to talk about the iniquities of capitalism and materialism and consumerism. This is connected, but it’s a little bit different. It has to do with some things I think more broadly. For one, I think that invisible robot planes in the sky that shoot people is creepy. I don’t care about any of the arguments in favor of these robot death planes, they’re creepy. I think that trying to control all events in the world, regardless of whether one does so to somehow prevent all bad things to happen or in the service of a tiny elite interested in keeping the global mega-economics running smoothly, is not just insane but cartoonishly insane. I think that snagging all phone calls and e-mails and texts and Facebook messages in furtherance of that cartoonishly insane goal represents a level of hubris Sophocles couldn’t have dreamed up on a thousand mikes of LSD. I am not down with any of that.
I find it profoundly troubling when evidence suggests that the intelligence community has, for decades, functioned as a maniacal government-within-the-government, basically accountable to no one, basically just doing whatever. The fact that this is dangerous should be self-evident. But further, I find it profoundly troubling that the FBI is basically a group of government thugs proficient at setting people up. I find it profoundly troubling that local police forces are armed to the teeth and employ paramilitary tactics on a regular basis. That is not what a police force is for. The actual statistical danger to police officers does not justify the wildly hostile approach that has seemingly become the status quo. The police are not supposed to be an authoritative body which we obey in lock-step. They are (theoretically, at least) not supposed to be a Pinkerton mercenary operation to protect the interests of the high and mighty. They’re supposed to serve the community by making it a decent place. Decency needs to start with the police.
Now, I get along with cops, generally speaking. And I’m not a victim of any abuses of the system (so far). I’m just having a hard time feeling like I can act freely – even to properly free my individual soul – here and now, under these conditions. This is so ass-backwards, so far outside anything I could ever consider in the realm of being “normal” – never mind “good” – that I have a hard time accepting it.
And then I debate endlessly: Do I just shut it off and block it out, impose a media blackout, so that I can maybe stop thinking about it and keep working on the Great Work of the Soul? Or do I find a way to answer the injustice?
Enough about all that. I’m going to have to get over it, aren’t I?
We’ve talked at length about the decadent magic that is Midsummer, but don’t let all that fool you into thinking the time we’re in right now isn’t highly magical in its own right.
Now, I’m not saying you’re comfortable. It’s been raining a lot. The air is thick. Sticky. Wet. And then the sun bakes it hot as it all hangs motionless in the air for the better part of the day, before it begins pouring and maybe thundering. Food goes bad in like half the time it normally does. Animals are everywhere, especially at night. During the day, though, the birds are going wild and there are lazy, large bugs. Time seems to be going by fast and slow all at once.
There’s a lot happening, though, even when it seems like everything is standing still. The time of the flowers has ended and the time of the fruit has begun. None of what is happening right now is new, but is instead a traceable result of the setting constructed in those first months of the year. It’s very unlikely, in these hazy days with their blurry horizons, that you can always clearly see the predetermined results to come, but by this time next month, the first of the year’s harvest has begun.
I know it seems way too soon to be saying that, but it’s true. The year has started to end. That means the seeds that went in the ground before are starting to give us things that we can use, that we can incorporate as part of our lives and our selves going onward in the journey through life. It’s so easy to allow the years to pass without noticing that each and every one of them bears certain fruit that you take with you – still the same person, but forever altered by that which has been added on. Don’t miss it. It’s awesome. Pay attention to the fruit you’re picking. If you set things up well, you’re going to be in business a little bit. If maybe you didn’t (which is completely normal, that’s what most of my years are like by far), by mid-August and certainly by September you’ll be able to see what led to what, and then you can try something else next year. Unless you die, we get to do this again in a very short time.
Enjoy this. Clear your head, don’t miss the primary benefit of the scorching, humid dog days of summer – the ease with which the sun can burn away any dead weight you may be carrying around. Go to the beach. Read some stuff. Don’t spend too much time worry about world affairs, unless you’re already some kind of fugitive. And start to keep your eyes open for the things you’ve grown.
There’s something else that’s important for us to keep in mind in the days ahead, something ridiculously obvious: remember the importance of song. In the darkest (and, indeed, most oppressive) of times, it is through music that we transcend the bullshit and recognize not just the beauty but often the divinity of it all. Keep music in your life – not just in your headphones but shared with anyone tolerant enough to listen to the music you think is heavenly. If you can, don’t just listen and don’t just sing, but dance, as well.
I mean, tell me you haven’t been listening to some stuff, and found yourself just plugged in.
You know, not just plugged into your music device, or the song, or even the meaning behind the song. I mean plugged in, tapping into that Source, that Higher Realm that isn’t faraway or down the road but right here, behind everything we see and everything we do. And if you don’t know, try to find out, because you’re missing something huge. Music brings us together, music allows the joy of the world to fill us up and then overflow out, music allows us all to remember that there’s a thing above all that terrible stuff that’s troubling and wrong. The thing we tap into when we lose ourselves to song and dance and each other, that’s off limits to secret agents. Nothing any Gestapo wannabe does can touch us when we’re up there.
I rest easier, even – no, especially – in my moments of self-doubt and weakness, when I remember that they can crush me economically, lock me up, even kill me, but they can’t ever stop the song.
They can’t ever stop any of us from dancing. And that’s not just an individual solution. That’s how we beat them.
It’s good to be back. Here’s a treat heading into the weekend: