Friday, May 15, 2009

Of Expression, or, the Dynamo of Volition

I’m not sure how life is supposed to be lived, how the veil of familiarity is to be lifted day after day to provide the kind of soul gripping experience that I so desire. And I wonder if we aren’t cheating ourselves, living only in one realm of life, only one corner of the vineyard, when the grapes taste far sweeter on the other side.

Here’s what I mean.

I was thinking the other day about limitations, and how I feel as though I am limited to experiencing only part of the vast goodness that I am capable of experiencing; like how we only use a small percentage of our brains, only instead of the cerebrum I am talking about the soul. I find myself caught in a certain form of expression, recently its been academic, as I was busy applying to 12 law schools and have since been writing supplementary material for them. But that form of expression, perhaps every form of expression, is by its very nature limiting. Without another way in which to express myself I grow dull and weary and tired. Hardly the romantic conception of life I had when I was young.

I love the way that Picasso put it, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I might learn how to do it.” What a brilliant thing. He finds himself directly limited by the breadth of his own experience so he attempts to move beyond that obstruction by simply doing that which he doesn’t know. Following this truth let me say that I have come to believe that in order for life to take hold of our spirits in abundance, in order that the closed rose of the soul might open in the sun to its fullest glory, we must find a way to express ourselves on a variety of diverse fronts. I am limited by the academy’s strict prose so I move to the flowing rhythm of poetry. I am limited by the use of an established vernacular so I move to the never fully established voice of art. I am constrained by brush and color palate so I move to the unconstrained depths of music, from whose well I often draw a voice for my soul. And shouldn’t that be our goal, the unfettered expression of nothing less than our own souls? To impede expression is to impede progress and growth and everything that you and I have it in us to become. I am beginning to wonder if the great sin that we fall into as we grow old isn’t necessarily the pursuit of money of other material things, but the unintentional limiting, confining, and constraining of the very expression of our spirits, of our very nature.

I can’t tell you how challenging that idea has been for me lately, and to tell you the truth nothing scares me more than impeding progress, be it mine, God’s, or society’s. This concept is one of the things that drove me while I was in Africa. Faced with college level classes to teach and few resources I wanted to hand off the assignment to someone more capable, but I could not rid myself of the nagging voice telling me that to drop that responsibility would be the first step toward stagnancy. It’s a slippery slope, the more the easy road is taken the more it becomes the only road. I can’t tell you how frightened I am of it. To be totally transparent, that’s one of the reasons that this time in my life is so difficult, because if I am not accepted by any of these law schools, these great judges of human potential, then I put one foot on the road toward every 50-something adult who asks himself where the time has gone and why he did not do more.

To put a capstone on this thought, I was listening to an interview with an incredibly successful businessman, a man who had made his millions and reached the top of his game. The interviewer asked a variety of questions relating to how and why he had been so successful, and towards the end of the interview asked the businessman what he wished he had learned sooner. The man’s reply was incredibly illuminating. He said that he wished that someone had told him that when you reach the top, when you summit the peak of material success, there’s nothing there. Nothing. He went on to talk about how he had been let down by this fact, and had come to terms late in his life that his priorities had been a bit out of place. How profound! How tragic. This is why I am convinced of the need to pursue a dynamic existence, one predicated on the belief that things can be better, expression can and must be realized in as many forms as possible, and the onset of a stagnant existence must be met by the uncomfortable actualization of expanded knowledge and abilities.

I readily admit to my own shortcomings, to my own lack of insight and understanding; I am a traveler on the dusty and mired road of life just as you are. My thoughts are always open to reproof and correction, and I welcome it. Thank you for reading this confused conglomeration of thoughts, and thank you Luther (my future grandfather in law) for reading this blog, lets smoke some cigars when I come home.

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