The road curved ahead of me through woods of ancient peace, ancient peace smiling at my anxiety, every knot in my center bracing for the next challenge. I drove with my hands tight on the steering wheel, noting the discordant vibe within, fatigue pounding a rhythm in my core. Every stretch of ruth-limb marveled, marveled that there would be such stillness, such strength in the solidarity of trees stretching to blue skies, sinking roots in earth yearning and that I was going down a road not planned. How would this visit go? Why did it worry me so much? When did I last feel a sustained stretch of something other than frustration with the journey? Why had I not called last night? How could she say anything but yes when you were only 5 minutes away? Gnawing, anxious hunger surreal. Alan Watts says that spontaneity is total sincerity (Nature, Man and Woman, pg. 112) and “the whole being involved in the act without the slightest reservation–and as a rule the civilized adult is goaded into it only by abject despair, intolerable suffering, or imminent death.” Agreement with Alan Watts isn’t a given for me but this statement rings true…most of the time. There are sustained moments for many when joy surprises the hours of duty, of commitment and habits of excellence, rushes into every cellular jive seemingly from nowhere. And a melting spontaneity inevitably unfolds. Some have lived so long in peace and self-acceptance, wrested from the past by hard work and self-delivered into a radical grace so beautifully pervasive they cannot even think of spontaneity because it would be like biting your own teeth. Or thinking of not thinking or thinking of. Of. My hand gripped the wheel and while the decision had been spontaneous, I was anything but spontaneously peaceful or wholly involved beyond a scraping anxiety but sincere? Was I sincere?
I was. I am. Sincerely in need of an infusion of something other than just enough to endure, cope, survive. I understand it’s not an uncommon reality for many these days. When a body goes into push mode for a sustained period of time and is second-guessing the choices during those push phases, second-guessing and mistrusting self, survival is everything in spite of the feast unfolding in vistas all around, within reach, just there on the ground and up, past tangles and leaves found.
Surviving at a feast, further bulletins as events warrant…
But spontaneity became me becoming at rest as I got out of my car and looked into woods caressed in morning light, the Eno a bit beyond me but sending liquid sustenance into air, filling my breath. I felt rest seep into every ache. I was prepared to stay for hours or leave in minutes. But I needed to be heard, to be known and to know more. I needed to hear words of advice, of guidance, of perspective a couple decades ahead of me and even to hear if maybe I oughta, shoulda done thus and so by now and oh. Wow. I left hours later, enriched by the culture of sincerity and spontaneity, knowing more and known more of and by my aunt. I would so rather experience such feasts every once in a while than a dozen friendly episodes empty of awareness every week after week surreally wearing me out.
I survived my way through and to a feast in order to find, not for the first or last time, that the survival mode was at once both inevitable and avoidable through a surrender, not of my will, but of my resistance. This is no news flash for me, nor a new experience. But. But when there are few resources for the resource, few motivators for the motivator, few people actually present in body as well in spirit and in my face declaring life and grace, survival becomes inevitable until the next great oasis ride through woods ancient.
They feed the soul, those trees and their people. They send you back down the road and into the stream of sincere bankruptcy exploding a wealth no bank can hold, no feast can convey and no lover can conjure. As soon as we quit the scramble to retain the last ounce of reserve or energy or gold, the hands of the heart open wide and life comes flooding in, spilling love on fields no one can sully with civil seeds bred in manufactured schemes. But I digress.
Life is good even when it’s horridly overworked, disgustingly overrun with real, valid demands and too many needs to be fulfilled at once. And when you arrive back in town, in your driveway with your son and the sun is singing a sweet song, you stop. There is no other more sincere unfolding but to stop right there and soak. Soulful feasting is the inevitable tide when long rides through forested peace bring release from self-blame, from pride, from the endless questioning, disturbing the trust of life itself. And you sit there and soak, door open wide, demands calling quietly and then going silent in the sound of spontaneous acceptance, released into the life of life itself.