From the Highway to the Path
today at 8:00 am
The direction of my biography, well into middle age, was a chronology of a life on the move, ever moving, perhaps careening is a better word, from one event, relationship, and/or geographical location to another.
Thankfully, a man can change. Today, I am settled. I am happy.
I am married 32 years come August 2020. We have lived for 25 years in our current address. My pursuit of material proof of my ‘success’ has changed into a liberating recognition that the Balance Sheet is not the criteria by which a successful life is evaluated.
Perhaps the best way to describe the change is how I see time. It is no longer simply linear, moving only in a straight line from Point A to Point B (although most assuredly, I am aware of the end point.) Now my life’s experiences, regardless of when they occurred, are sorted and filed as emotional states of being – feelings felt – rather than picture postcards reminding me of the stops I made along the way.
The path, as distinct from the highway, is a spiritual journey. It doesn’t preclude striving toward fulfillment of one’s ambition but puts emphasis on including such qualities as kindness and forgiveness, self-control, moderating material desires, ability to detach and to live in what is called “the consciousness of goodness.”
The path itself leads ‘toward the light,’ which simply means higher knowledge or truth, and the union with the divine. It’s that latter directive, union with the divine, that throws most people off, but I’ve tempered that dictate to simply mean “inner light” or the innate wisdom that exists within.
I have no problem reconciling the growth of my spiritual life with my doubting-Thomas disbelief of all the religious isms. I co-exist with existentialism, as well, completely in accord with individual existence, freedom and choice and the view that humans define their own meaning in life, holding as the philosophy maintains, there is no God.
Where I depart – and it works for me – is my acceptance of a transcendent force that “started the whole thing.” Science calls it “the big bang,” and that’s fine with me. Because even if there is no purpose for human existence that comes out of that explosion, one can make the point that we all came from the same place; all of us – worm, weed, rhino, rock and homo sapiens – all of us, connected, part of the universe, each of us a grain of sand and at the same time, the entire world in all its omnipotent magnificence.
The point of that side bar is to describe a way of living that is a hell of lot bigger in importance than throwing a block at the guy standing in the way of you entering the Executive Suite.
It converts sightseeing into soul searching. When I visited the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, I saw the architecture and noted its’ simplicity and size. Then I breathed in the air and felt my stomach tie up in knots as I felt the anguish of six million victims. Years later the hateful antisemitic rhetoric fouling the internet is broken glass in my gut.
It turns a celebratory event into an emotional experience. My wife hosted a wonderful surprise party for my 85th birthday. The food and dancing at the party was a blast; it was great fun. Then it was time for me to say a few words and my connection with every guest there left me sobbing with gratitude. To this day, scattered across the country, they are close to me.
It’s become a far more satisfying way to live. Love is present as a connection to spouse and family and a commitment to offering compassion and empathy towards all beings.