POEM: Tracing Humanity

Tracing

They say that
You can tell
A lot
About a person
By what they do
This, of course, is on track
Still, there is a better weigh
The difference between animals and humans
That which earthly scales can’t fathom
Consider what someone won’t do
To trace their
The difference between can’t and won’t
That space
Where occupies
And reins
Cryptic contain
Not in the telling
By lyings in the sand
But outlined simply in chalk
After words fly
And beings are grounded
You can judge one’s
By where they stand
And where they won’t

Many folks assert that you are what you do.  This may be correct, but it is not the complete story of who we are.  All ethics and morality implies some restraint of , refusing to do something that we have the to do.  If we have no choice in the matter, no to choose anything differently, then you are no more bound by ethics than a billiard ball.  Certainly there are aspects of our lives that are out of our control and these aspects define us to a certain extent.  In addition, our lives are defined by the choices we make, sculpting a positive manifestation of who we are, an example to others.  However, to fully trace our humanity beyond the motion of molecular and merely measuring external behaviors, we need to ascertain that which we will not do.  This will more fully complete the outline of our integrity and , defining our humanity.  Because ethics and morality imply restraint, there is an irreducible type of at the of — the refusal to do something simply because one can.  In popular , such limits are called boundaries, and boundaries are considered essential to our well being.  These boundaries, the outlines of our humanity, are marked not by words, but by our very selves, whatever skin we have in the game.  What we are willing to die for fleshes out what we are willing to live for.

Nevertheless, many “heady” folks get lost in the puzzling that we must voluntarily limit our , in the face of questionable , in defining ourselves.  While capturing the at the of , many are extremely uncomfortable claiming any .  They get lost in a related conundrum: by what do we question ?  I believe that the truth that is contained in this conundrum is that an irreducible amount of faith is in .  Faith is unavoidable!  What we choose, and refuse to choose, manifests our faith to the world.  I believe that the uncertainty, or tentativeness, that pervades the human condition, is evidence that remaining open is a fundamental way of of being congruent with .  Of course, an irreducible amount of tentativeness need not result in perpetual indecisiveness, just openness.  This openness also speaks to a dynamism in where we adapt and grow in response to changing conditions — may we not settle for less!

Every great tradition is aimed at openly moving beyond our self, nurturing that irreducible amount of faith even in , and not settling for a “self” contained or .  This process can lead to greater within our own experience and within the world we live in.

When I see people caught up in recursive conundrums, cursing over and over in frustration, I find this perfectly captured by the French word “oubliette,” which is a little place of forgetting, a small, windowless room where someone is locked away, forgotten, left to go mad.  May you not forget to nurture that irreducible amount of faith even in .  Denying that you have any faith is maddening, and the surest route to a room without a view.  Faith is unavoidable; enjoy the view.

Sometimes believing is seeing.  Changing our allows to see more of .  Plus, how we view a situation helps form that situation.  Like I used to say to my , with the not uncommon reluctance to go to school, “You don’t have to go to school, you get to go to school.”  The same situation with a different changes that situation.  May you find that glorious of serenely accepting that which you have no choice about, wholeheartedly jumping into that which you may, and stubbornly resisting that which you cannot take with and a whole .

 

Leave a Reply