Updated: Jan 14
The organized bee
With a one-track mind
Me, however, I wander.
Wondering as I wander.
Wiling away the hours while the sun wanes,
Its quiet descent washes
The windows of the day
Without so much as a
Whisper from me.
In the Eugene Ionesco abstract play, Rhinoceros, he writes, “modern man is the man in a rush (i.e. a rhinoceros), man who has no time, who is a prisoner of necessity, who cannot understand that a thing might perhaps be without usefulness...If one does not understand the usefulness of the useless and the uselessness of the useful, one cannot understand art. And a country where art is not understood is a country of slaves and robots.”
I believe this to be true, not just about one’s ability to understand art, but also one’s ability to understand the true essence of what it means to be alive. Modern society completed by its trappings of technology, advancement, success, competition, and commerce - all things that in and of themselves are not inherently bad but that when combined and followed as a creed for living while moving in hyperspeed, can create the illusion of living but it is the kind of living where beauty is bought and not felt and where temporary joy is achieved through gains that are traded for inner peace.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a new pair of jeans and a trip to Sephora. Who doesn’t need a new magic face cream that smells like roses and jasmine? I love the feeling of accomplishment and the accolades the often come with it. I love to move fast. I love to be distracted. I always want to be in the know. What’s hot. What’s not. "What are we wearing for spring?", was my Google search before March 11, 2020: The night the coronavirus pandemic became real in Eugene, Oregon and began shutting down the city.
Before these last two weeks of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, I thought I loved the hustle. Maybe I still do; who’s to say who I will be when we are granted permission to return to society.
I do hope that I will at least be a little different. In this time of quiet, I am feeling more alive and more conscious than I have in a very long time. I have had no choice but to just...be. In this place, just “being” seems to be enough. Striving and expectations have fallen away and I find myself staring out the window, feeling a surprising closeness to the squirrels hiding walnuts around the backyard.
However, this state of “being” is also a bit unnerving. As a person used to relying on distractions to keep my mind busy, I am not exactly sure who I am without the make-up, the tags that others have assigned me (and that I too have strived for), the latest fashion trends, and the excess I buy and consume because it is there.
I worry that during this time of solitude, I have changed more than just a little bit and as a result, I cannot return to who I was before. I might have no choice but to be “still” and let myself "just be”. I might have to stop all the running around, because I have realized that going slow, makes me feel more like me.
But then I worry (because I am good at worrying) what if, in the slow-going, nothing exciting happens anymore? What if I go nowhere interesting? What if I fade away? A friend likes to tell me that if I am living (and noticing) what is around me, it doesn't matter where I am. I am not missing anything. FOMO be damned!
Somewhere in this all is a lesson in trust. Trust in my inner voice, God, this universal pause, and the process of creation: bliss, solitude, creation, transformation. According to Matthew Fox, in A Way to God, "The beginning of this creation journey comes from paying attention to the present, to find the “being” in every part of my life. This is where we feel true bliss and aliveness... by seeing what is real."
Mindful by Mary Oliver
I see or hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,
to lose myself