Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Saying "Yes"

It’s a coastal California winter morning and the low-angled sun is beaming through the south-facing window where I sit writing. I’m contemplating the new year, this time after the winter solstice when the sun begins to ascend once again. Where do I want to go with my life, where do I need to go? A life as a writer seems to bridge the two worlds.

Back in the eighties, Bill Moyers conducted his famous series of interviews with Joseph Campbell, but I missed the first go round and only read about it in the newspapers. About a year later the local PBS station in the San Francisco Bay Area ran the series again. One late night as a service to viewers they ran the entire series back to back so people could tape the whole thing uninterrupted. I watched most of the series, taking in the information in a hypnagogic state as I struggled to stay awake for the entire night. I seemed to be inhabiting a different world, the images and information seemed to penetrate me. In one episode, Campbell posed his famous question, “Can you just say ‘yes’ to life?” The question lingered with me and still does.

The associated question is, “What is life?” Is life the series of assumptions, prejudices, conditionings, and good and bad experiences that each of us calls our own individual life, or is real life something far deeper, something that butts up to the universal process of creation and being? How do I drop my dead estimations and evaluations of reality in order to find the life to which I can say "yes?" Religion as we know it just tends to be a massive series of assumptions, conditionings, and prejudices that keeps us from this experience of saying “yes” to real life. Most people don’t even know that this experience is available, don’t understand that personal wisdom is even possible. We hug tight to our assumptions and let presidents, popes and mullahs do our thinking for us, rigid thinking that leads us further and further from the core of being.

The truth is our little lives are not working for us on personal, national, or global levels. Can each of us choose to do something about this situation in the new year? Can we start by just considering the idea that a deeper experience exists. Can we say "yes" to considering the idea of a deeper life? Just examine what protests and objections come to mind.

Outside this window different types of bamboo grow in our front yard, dappled by the winter morning sun. Yellow and green striped “Alphonse Karr,” blue Himalayan, maroon...they just leap forth from the ground.

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