Change/Don't change/Change/Don't change. Etc.
Two steps forward, one step back
or is it the other way around?
Steps forward are hard to sustain;
after a few you stop to get your breath.
And sometimes while you're stopped,
you forget how to make that forward motion,
so that when you start again to move,
it's backward that you go.
Is this what we mean by changing? Surely not. If you practice the above long enough, you'll find yourself staying in exactly the same place.
"Push, pull or get out of the way" was the motto of my father's
The external versus the internal. The wide world exists, with its geopolitical messes, its unabashed and unrepentant and unbridled capitalism. But do we have to live in it every moment? Can it not be reconciled with (or replaced by) the world of internal vibrations, healing prayer, conscious growth? Peace?
Recently I had a dream of a manuscript that was the wrong one. This led to two camps: those who liked it as it was and those (including me) who knew it had to be changed. Our group had a copy of it and was prepared to change it. The typewriter we needed to use was in the large house, the old doctor's house, on the corner of my street. My group went to the house in the middle of the night.
We had a key. We entered and started up the steps. The last person in line had forgotten to close and lock the outer door. I turned, from half-way up the steps, and reminded her that the other group would be following us, stalking us, trying to stop us. She was young and inexperienced and hadn't realized. So she closed the door and we all continued up the steps. We went to the third floor, where there were two rooms and a hallway. The typewriter was in the room on the right, but that room also had a sleeping two-year-old child in it. I knew I couldn't type there, for fear of waking the baby, so I hefted the typewriter and moved it, surrounded by my supporters, to the room on the left.
The typewriter had an electrical cord, but actually it was an old standard, about ten inches tall, and made of shiny black metal. Definitely a pre-Selectric typewriter, this one had letters fastened at the end of long extensions that arced up when the appropriate keys were struck. In all, a heavy, cumbersome apparatus that very much inhibited the speed of the typist: if you typed too fast, the extensions would jam in the air before they reached the paper.
Nonetheless, this was the only instrument available for the rewriting of the manuscript, so we set it up in that second room, plugging the (unneeded) cord into the wall outlet.
Before I was able to begin typing, however, another door in the room opened. I realized that we hadn't thought to lock or bar it. Standing there were a member of the "other" group and a security man.
I hadn't expected the building to have security. This man wore a brown uniform. He was not tall but was as broad as a linebacker, with a squashed square face and a stylized moustache consisting of a thin black line that ran just under his nose and beyond the corners of his mouth. His piggy little eyes took in the scene and he asked what we were doing.
I said boldly, reaching into my pocket, that I had a key, hoping the key would prove that we belonged there. But to him, that was simply another sign that we were trespassing. Not only were we in the house illegally, but we had an illegal key that had allowed us to get in.
And then I woke up. No resolution. No way to complete that essential reworking of the manuscript. And this reworkingyou have to understand thiswas important. It was not frivolous. It had wider implications.
Does this dream hold an answer to the question? If it does, I can't see it (but then, I'm notoriously bad at interpreting my dreams). I thought the question was: "what will become of me if I don't continue to change?" But perhaps the question is really: "what will become of me if I do continue to change?" In either case, the only course to follow is Rilke's advice to a young poet: don't worry about the answers. Just live the questions.
Just live the questions.