If you are like everyone else, you take the wrong things too seriously, and the right things not seriously at all. Growing up is learning to see with right seeing, and to live accordingly. All of our problems that we live seeking to solve fall into one, or more, of these categories (Which have been identified as the source of all ills since the beginning of thinking people): Fear Desire Duty. We all are as we are because we are afraid of something, because we desire something, because we think we ought to do something, or be someone else. We suffer from Inappropriate Assessment Syndrome. It is a deficiency afflicting the entire species. And is probably entirely responsible for having us where we are today-- by driving us incessantly to be somewhere else. Having something else. Doing something else. The Bane of Neanderthal was being quite content to be where they were. Without fear, desire or duty, we would be completely at peace with ourselves just as we are, and with our circumstances just as they are. Which would not be good for the economy.
Dolly Parton is a current manifestation/embodiment/incarnation of the Christ among us. Dolly does Dolly the way Jesus would do Dolly if we were playing charades. And Dolly does Jesus the way only Dolly can do Jesus-- which is what each of us is asked to do: be Jesus, or the Buddha, or Dolly Parton the way only we can do them. We are asked to do them the way they would do them. By being completely ourselves, the way they were completely themselves. The road opens up at this point, branches off, and we could go in 360 directions (Yes, even back in the way we came, because by now it would be new), all of them equally interesting, and all of the leading to the same destination: The full realization and expression of ourselves in our life. That is where we are all going. There is nothing more to ask, or want, or seek, or desire than that. Dolly's on it. So was Jesus. But, back to where I'm going to go with this. Playing. Playing is the most important thing. Playfulness. Full investment in the game. Total commitment to the game. Complete awareness of the truth that we are all playing the game. Most of us (After R.D. Laing) are playing the game of not playing a game. We are serious. What we do is serious. Playing is what we do when we take a break from what we are doing. To accuse us of playing is to accuse us of playing around and not giving our best effort, of slacking off and not trying. Here, we are in need of Paul Watzlawick's observation, "The situation is hopeless, but not serious." The more serious we are the more immersed we are in the game we are playing (of not playing a game). It is all a game. "There is only the dance" (T.S. Eliot). Dance/game, same thing. But. Here's the thing. We have to play the game with our whole heart. We have to know what we are doing, and do it completely, wholly, as if it were real! It is as if we were actors playing the part of ourselves in a movie about us. We don't win the Oscar without being completely who we are! Even though it is "just a movie," "just a game." And, comes to mind the Grantland Rice quote, "It matters not that you win or lose, but how you play the game."
My friend, John Payne, died on August 26 from complications due to Alzheimer’s. He was 77 years old. John was a fellow Presbyterian (USA) minister, whom I met in 1984. John and I were within “coffee distance” when he was in Nettleton, Mississippi and I was in Amory, Mississippi, and again when I was in Batesville, Mississippi and he was in Nesbit, Mississippi.
John was a member of Mensa, but did not want it known, because, he said, “Then they will expect me to be smart.” He had a lot to say about “being smart.”
“Being smart gets a lot of hype, but between being smart and being lucky, take being lucky.”
“Being smart doesn’t know which person to marry, or when to take no for an answer, or what to do when you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
“Being smart doesn’t help a bit when you have to grow up some more again, and do what you don’t want to do even though it is clearly what needs to be done.”
“Being smart is not as reliable a guide to knowing what to do when as being silent and listening to the source of your own nature, and sensing what resonates with you, and following the drift of your own heart and soul.”
“We all drink from the same well when it comes to instinct and intuition, and that is a different kind of knowing than the kind that comes from being smart.”
“Being smart is no indication of our capacity for being kind–and being kind saves the world.”
The world was a better place with John Payne in it, and I am glad he will always be with me–because as Jim Hollis likes to say, “Death doesn’t end a relationship any more than divorce ends a marriage.”
We are never more than a slight perspective shift away from the realization of the wonder and awe of the mysterium at the heart of existence. Joseph Campbell was fond of recommending that we draw a frame around any scene, or object, or person, and sit in its presence, as one might contemplate an optical illusion, until the shift happens and we are moved to amazement at the astounding realization that there is something, and not nothing! And we are present to know it, honor it, relish it, rejoice in it, and hold it as venerable and sacred forever! From that moment, we will never be able to look at anything the way we once looked at everything. The world will have shifted in its orbit. Nothing will be what it was. And we will be startlingly transformed for life. And live as an agent of the mysterium at the source, origin, foundation of all that is for as long as we shall live-- and perhaps beyond, who knows?