Living or lived?

In nineteen-seventy-something I sailed from the bed of a cornering half-ton truck, through the air onto a country road. Crash-landed. Drunk in a ditch. Scuffed and scraped I staggered into a farmer’s field. Missed the barb but caught wire across the throat. Fell again and maybe cried. I eventually found my way to the party.

Kicking leaves on the path. Stopping to stare at trees. Leg over the gate. Ignoring the “No Admittance Beyond this Point” sign. Crossing the fishway onto the dam. Sitting in a warm, dark room on a rainy November evening listening to John Mayall. Fifty-five and blessed. Loved and in love. Grateful. Wondering how in the world I got here.

Are we living or being lived? That’s what I’d like to know. Lived, I hope. Both, I guess. Eyes, ears, touch and soul of that which is. An expression of flesh and bone, influenced by time, space and circumstances. Infinite gesture. Willed and willing. Emotional. The Great Voice talking to naught but itself. Holy Spirit, Dharma and the Prophets, all hands on the wheel trying to keep this distracted child on the road. All is one and one is all. I’ve worked for others. Squatted, rented and owned. I’ve no need to possess this thing. It’s not like that anyway.

23 thoughts on “Living or lived?

  1. Wow — the most challenging of all the writings of yours I have seen thus far — there is considerable depth here, and it asks a host of questions that may have no airtight or satisfying answers. and given our human need for certainty (supposed at least) — it might appear to upset the apple-cart of much that we grasp onto for air —
    I will ponder this further —


  2. Are we living or being lived? An awesome and difficult question Chris — For my part I believe it is both – many things – perhaps most — we seem to have some room for –indeed responsibility — But sometimes it seems that we must simply take what is given, and do what we can with it — It is the old philosophical question of freedom vs determination — My view is that our lives are such a complex entanglement of the two that it is hard to make hard and fast rules about it — I suppose I do come down heavy on the freedom side, since without that we would simply be robots, doing as programmed — There may well be a lot of that within us all right –but I trust the freedom factor weighs the most heavilly — Al


    • Al, you’re making me think to much. Yesterday I read this comment just before going out to burn a brush pile. As I struggled to get the fire going in the rain and then worked to keep it contained, I considered this a little more. Trying to answer the unanswerable is a little futile, but it does help to put our lives in perspective and provide some direction I suppose.

      We are so interconnected, nurtured and dependent upon the mystery that to even consider ourselves separate seems crazy to me. I think we’re “lived” but that freedom and independence are essential to our being. Freedom (a dodgy word at best) is integral to what we are. “Role” and “Value” are not the right words for what I want to say, but they will have to do. If we have a role and value to existence it is only through our ability to influence and participate in the perpetual flux of change and creation. Existence seems always to be burgeoning forth. Freedom allows us to be a part of that. We act, influence and contribute to being. HOWEVER, in my view, freedom cannot be mistaken with flippant notions of carefree, irresponsible living. Equal to intrinsic freedom is the reality of Circumstances. We are born into and ever effected and influenced by circumstance beyond our control. We may be free, but our freedom exists within the circumstances that shape us.

      In all honesty Al I rarely think of these things anymore. I know that I am far too limited, and also that existential truth cannot be contained in words. To offer a view on the mystery is a dangerous business. I definitely prefer conversation over the written word in matters like this. Or poetry. So. Let’s get together soon – maybe next Friday if you’ve got time… and perhaps we can chew this bone together for awhile. I trust it could be a most poetic encounter.

      I always appreciate your mind and friendship Al.

      Cheers, Chris


  3. Living or being lived? What matter?

    If someone else, or something else, is driving this train, makes no difference to me. In this moment, I am here, that’s all, that’s enough.

    This is a beautifully crafted piece of writing, Chris.




  4. Hi Chris — your reply — like your post — is crammed with issues that could and will lead to long dialogue on many fronts.
    I especially appreciate your affirmation that “existential truth cannot be contained by words.” And — To offer a view on the mystery is a dangerous business …”
    I think I have a small glimmer of understanding this, and certainly agree that it is so — at least for most of us common mortals!
    And yet — yet — we are creatures who seem doomed to attempt to understand, and even discuss, that which is profound, puzzling, mysterious, beyond known reason — and then go on to form conclusions about what we think we see.
    History of course is littered with the vapour trails — such as justification of slavery, exploitation, domination of “others”, the right to persucute others who are in some way “strange, to name but a few conclusions that later ages looks upon with sheer horror.
    “How could we humans be so utterly stupid?”, we wail in disbelief.
    So yes we are cautious in our attempts to explain, and well me might be.
    And yet — yet — can we avoid this pressing need, this drive, this compulsion to arrive at statements, formualtions, doctrines, creeds, declarations etc.?
    Can we?
    I think not —
    Which means I believe, that we speak with caution, care, compassion, attempting to understand the whole picture not the part.
    Perhaps this is a formula that will –hopefully — keep us out of the ditches, armed with barb wire boundaries —-


  5. Pingback: 《拥抱生命》To hold life in my arms | River of the heart

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