Monday, December 31, 2007

Bouncing Here and Back Again

I have the whole office to myself this morning, and I mean the whole office; not a single person is at work. I must have missed the memo, which is not surprising since I have have not been in the office for probably over two weeks. Oh well. It will give me a chance to check the messages I haven't checked in...well, about two weeks.

It has been nice having time off from school. I have been catching up on things around the house, working on bikes, and actually reading for pleasure...a rare opportunity. Michael has also been staying with me since last week, as well as his friend Grant from Boston for a few nights. Just prior to his coming I had been feeling extremely tired, a feeling that has been lingering for a long time now, in my body and mind, like I'm operating at 3/4 speed.

But Michael is a good guy for bringing things to life, and that's just what we did Friday night when we met up with everyone downtown. We smoke and drank, played pool, the next morning nursing the sure to come and all too familiar head-in-a-vice condition with aspirin and coffee and eggs at Bob's Diner. Michael and Grant go for a bike ride while I spend the day sweeping, napping, reading, and soldering. After Michael and Grant get back from another big night on Saturday (I deferred in favor of a movie at home), we went out on the wet porch, Grant and I waxing metaphysics and literature, Michael and I discussing what he was going to do now that he has been kicked out of his house in Southborough only a week after he had moved in. Grant crashes and Michael and I sit at the kitchen table talking and drinking whisky and rum, trying to find a single Modest Mouse song lost in the chasm of my harddrive (but lodged in my memory to affirm its existence) until 3am. I felt roused from my emotional slumber and was grateful to Michael for being the grease for my rusty wheels.

M. Scott Peck wrote about the "Four Stages of Spiritual Growth" in Further Along the Road Less Traveled. I won't write about them in detail (you can see them here). But there was an excerpt that has always stuck with me describing the "bouncing" between stage III and IV, because I have seen it (and felt it) often:

"Similarly, we see people bouncing back and forth between Stage III and Stage IV. A neighbor of mine was one such person. By day Michael expressed his highly analytic mind with brilliant accuracy and precision, and he was just about the dullest human being I have ever had to listen to. Occasionally in the evening, however, after he had drunk a bit of whisky or smoked a little marijuana, Michael would begin to talk of life and death and meaning and glory and become "spirit filled," and I would sit listening at his feet enthralled. But the next day he would exclaim apologetically, "God, I don't know what got into me last night; I was saying the stupidest things. I've got to stop smoking grass and drinking." I do not mean to bless the use of drugs for such purposes but simply to state the reality that in his case they loosened him up enough to flow in the direction he was being called, from which in the cold light of day he retreated back in terror to the "rational" safety of Stage III."

I love that term "'rational safety' of Stage III." Reminds me of kids in the 50's crawling under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Seems rational enough, but when you take a few steps back and look at what's going on, sometimes our most rational solutions are exposed as the ridiculous illusions of safety they really are.

Movie Recommendation: "Le Scaphandre et le papillon" (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Music for the Day:
Sun Kil Moon, "Tiny Cities"

Sight of the Day:
Old black man with cane and white sneakers walking casually past bustling people and metal New Year's Eve barriers on Broad St., wearing a huge placard that reads: "Matthew 18:6"

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