Break Open Only On Condition: Life Is Meaning Optional
When I was very young, children had great freedom to roam around unsupervised (not like today). I remember being given good advice for surviving one kind of disaster, how to get out of the woods if lost. It was easy to see that it would work: if you get lost in the woods, just find a stream and follow it down; ultimately it leads to civilization.
So self-obsession is at the heart of all mental illness. Escaping it, then, in a positive and constructive way is like finding your way out of a jungle that seems to have no possible exit, a dilemma with no resolution, a pursuit with no real and permanent fulfillment. And yet the world prods us, encourages us, to enter into this self-obsession. And the more we have, the more we want and the deeper embedded we can become; the wealthier we are, the more trapped we are. It is like a jungle with no escape, no path leading outward. Marshall Vian Summers, Freedom from Self-Obsession
These instructions were given to my brother and me who were given freedom to get to know the landscape as children today are not, given the freedom to develop a sensibility about the land, the first thing I noted when I remembered that day, hearing the instructions:
“If Lost, Follow Water; It Will Lead to Civilization”
A dry bed will lead to a stream, and the stream join with others in ever-growing strength, inevitably, it was apparent from where we stood. No need to consider that the path could be bumpy, slippery, rocky and maybe wet with branch slaps in the face and lacking further instructions to see that following water was obviously a plan that, properly executed, would work. No need to qualify further to see how physical nature has a kind of inevitability about it. On recalling the moment of hearing the Great Waves warning, I gradually remembered having a distinct bias towards having a brother on hand at such a time!
Learning about the degradation that water suffers along the way would come later, embarrassingly enough, yet this is one thing hardly anybody gets, considering how we throw away this precious resource. Like the child I was, who drank water freely straight from the spring, pure and clear, people expect it will always be so free.
That Was Then, That Was There
“Follow water” was advice that was geographically biased towards the specific woods we were looking at.
In the U.S., east and west of the Mississippi might as well be two different planets. Like they say about gardening in Colorado: “like gardening on the moon.”
Follow water? Study up on riparian law for a dose of the regional differences, what we don’t understand about the differing conditions and a stretched resource being ignored.
Following water is the way of the cross; there is a pernicious aspect about the way of complete self-abnegation that is as obvious as how water joins by seeking the lowest elevation: always seeking to go with the flow is to turn the keys to a meaningful life over to circumstances and blind fate. Self-determination is required, once you are out of the woods.
Lost Like a Speck in the Ocean
What if you are stranded in a vast ocean, a superabundance of water? The same person who told me to follow water when lost in the woods gave me the instructions to survive when the ground is unfathomably deep: Just breathe. Let your breath keep you afloat and propel you forward when you must conserve your energy.
Even Tumbleweeds Can Follow
If you have washed up on the shore, exhausted; if you are in the thick of a bewildering tangle of affairs of the world, if you find yourself stranded with all connections to normality cut asunder; if the way is growing steep and intimidating, you’ve come to the right place. There is a way out; a Ladder has been dropped down to assist you. Climb this ladder one rung at a time.
HOW CAN YOU FIND YOUR WAY WHEN YOU ARE LOST? How can you know certainty when you value the temporary so greatly? How can you know the power of your own life when you are so intimidated by threats of loss and destruction? Life is kind to you, for it offers not only the reward but the way to the reward. If it were left up to you, it would be cruel indeed, for you would have to attempt every single possibility that you could conceive of, and then you would have the possibilities that others have conceived of and even the opportunities to reach Knowledge that others have used successfully but which may not in fact work well for you. In your brief span of time in the world, how can you accomplish all of these and still maintain your vitality? How can you maintain your encouragement for Knowledge when so many ways will disappoint you?
TAKE FAITH TODAY IN KNOWING THAT GOD knows the way to Knowledge, and you need only follow the way that is being given. In this way, Knowledge simply emerges in you because it is acknowledged, for only God knows Knowledge in you, and only Knowledge in you knows God. As the two resonate together, they both become more apparent. In this, you find peace.