Stick the Landing

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You can check out anytime you like,
but you can never leave…

– The Eagles

Have you ever noticed that the people who talk about chasing dreams are always the ones who have already caught them?

I find this sort of hindsight optimism annoying and beyond unhelpful. It seems to suggest that, if we have a job we don’t love, every minute of every day, that we have somehow sold out. We “gave up on the Dream.” We have failed ourselves, the men and women who gave us life, and everyone else besides. Thank you, and goodnight!

Bullshit.

Life ain’t like that. You know it; I know it. All us real people know it. Sometimes life gives you lemons; more often, it shoves them down your throat. You try making lemonade when you’re choking on citrus.

It’s easy to spout pontifical when you don’t have to con yourself into believing in what you do. Any fool can appreciate the rewarding aspects of his work when it actually is rewarding.

Anyone can work hard when she feels like she’s “hardly working.” (Such a clever phrase…)

The true hero is the one who thrives in a job he hates. This is the definition of work ethic: getting up every day, going to a job that clogs the pores, melts the brain, and kills the soul, and still giving that occupational bit of cowpie everything you’ve got. The miserable worker who does good work anyway. The one who decides to be all she can be even though no one seems to care who she is.

That’s the real world: the one where you don’t have time for chasing dreams because the reality is too busy chasing you.

Don’t get me wrong: on my best days, I’m thrilled for the lucky few who find that “perfect job.” But most of us…?

Most of us are lucky if we stick the landing.

 

Thinking Out Loud

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If butterfly wings,
having sired the storm,
presage a chaos yet to be born...then
                                regardless of form
beauty is beauty and
                                      fire is warm.

And if, once washed, the bowl remains         full,

then life is not over
no matter the pull

Last but not least 
                                              the feast.

Here Today

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(Photo courtesy of Prakash Adhikary)

The Buddha said: “The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old age there is death; of such a nature are living beings. As ripe fruits are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power of death; all are subject to death.”

– The Parable of the Mustard Seed

There are those who believe that, given time and resources, scientific advancement will one day conquer death itself.

I am not one of those people.

As much as I yearn to see the future, to walk in a world defined by galaxies rather than continents, to travel at the speed of light to the place where stars are born; as much as I’d love to watch history’s eons unfold endlessly around me; as much as I’d give to read the end of the story–even so, the thought rings hollow.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my life is exalted by its inherent limitations, without which it would be meaningless, moment-less. I wonder if they are really limitations at all, or if they are simply infinity in disguise. I am who I am because I will not be forever. True eternity dwells in the finite; the vicissitudes of time render time timeless. My existence matters only because it will one day cease.

This is my time. I am here today.

This person called “Vance” is a moment in time, a blip on the radar of reality–it cannot be otherwise. Whatever fate awaits is predicated upon birth and death. I am in between. It is the only place I can exist. It is the only arena in which I may act. And when I act, I act as one who will soon disappear and who therefore must act now.

Chögyam Trungpa taught that “we are quivering between this and that.” We live our lives poised on the razor’s edge, at a moment’s notice. We dwell in the instant between first breath and last. And in an instant, the instant will pass.

This is my time. I am here today.

I do not fear the loss of tomorrow, because it is the elusiveness of tomorrow that makes such a precious commodity out of today. A precious stone is precious because it is scarce. If there is always to be Vance, then what real value can Vance really possess? I am precious because I am scarce. The promise of death makes a precious commodity of my life.

There are things only I can do, words only I can say, and thoughts only I can think–and I have only today in which to do, say, and think them. They have never been before; they will never be again. Life’s greatest glory is its own impermanence. Here today; gone tomorrow. Precious now.

If I am to live as Vance, I must one day die as Vance. And in between, I must act.

Just a Thought

Pinkas-boy-gun

Dear Texas State Legislature:

          Anyone who’s ever been on a college campus during finals week should know that arming students is a bad, bad idea. These people are chronically incapable of looking both ways before crossing the street, and we want to empower them to decide who’s the bad guy–in a room full of thirty people who might all be packing heat? If they’re not mature enough to flush the toilet, they aren’t ready to be a hero.

Your friend,
Potential Target Practice