Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why bother?

Floating leaf, Tucker Pond, Salisbury, NH, October 2007, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 200mm, Exposure 1/50 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, exposure bias -1/3 stop, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Personal transformation has a difficult time breaking through the husk of comfort. Why bother, the essence asks? You are comfortable and secure inside your shell. You are protected. Life is pretty nice, just the way it is.

Are you a gardener? A tender of plants? A planter of seeds?

Sometimes, depending on the seed, to encourage germination you are advised by the packet to soak the seeds overnight, or to scratch the seed shell to encourage root emergence. Yes, sometimes, even nature provides too much comfort to allow the essence to emerge, and to grow and develop. At least, much of the time.

So what to do? Only a fool would cast aside the safety and security developed over years of careful planning and execution, right?

Only a fool indeed. A fool that had seen glimpses of the creative energy that is life itself. A fool that rested among the rustling grasses, warmed by the setting sun, smiling at the birds overhead as they began their journey south, pulled by an unseen and unnamed force. It is that force — subtle and nondescript, at least in the language of our work-a-day world — that begs this question: ‘why bother?’

Why bother, indeed. Just who is keeping score? Will you be a success or a failure at this game called life? How big is the field, just where are the goal posts? Help, you ask, please — the rules are changing as you think. Or better, once you stop thinking. And start to listen. To that small, quiet voice — it’s a feeling, really — deep within — or maybe out there somewhere — in another dimension perhaps — hitting you with a glancing blow, from an oblique angle, orthogonal to what we call the “real world”.

You know, it’s funny. You know the answer. You absolutely know what to do. This is the revelation.

The question is — do you trust that insight? Will you follow its guidance — and take the needed risks? Put your own comfort, and the security of your family, at risk? Is this nothing more than a selfish endeavor? Why do you get to make the call? Just who says that’s OK?

You know the “right” answer. But do you have the courage and the conviction? The depth of faith? (Oh God how I’ve come to hate that word.) Will you take action?

Just a few more years, you hear yourself saying. Until you earn some more money. Build up a bigger nest egg. Then you’ll be able to do what is asked. What you ask. Be patient. You have responsibilities. You must think not only of yourself.

Oh, but what of those souls that never act — who suppress their essence. They remained ungerminated. Dead, within their soil and their soul. Contributing to our collective evolution only though their own decomposition. Compost for the next soul. May the next one have the strength and the urgency.

No, you cannot accept that fate. Sure, that will be your end, but you have so much life left to live. So much creation left within you. This is your chance to influence the flow. To dip your toe into the stream of life, and make a unique contribution to the river of dreams.

No, you will not recoil from this challenge. You will not ignore this invitation. You are one of the lucky ones. You have asked “why?” You have listened for the answer. You may have even glimpsed into the fire of the moment. Seen the cauldron of creation. Witnessed the peace of the Now. The bliss of awareness. The reflection of beauty in every thing — which we label “pretty” and “ugly”.

The real crime would be to leave that insight to fend for itself. You must water it — fertilize it — keep it warm — even transplant it if needed. You cannot let this languish, to be overtaken by the weeds of the mundane and routine. It is too precious. At least you think so.

But this spark – this essence — is everywhere. So if you ignore it, it will not matter. Life will keep offering up the opportunity the each of us.

But you don’t want to ignore it.

This is where you'll find your bliss. You must follow that, says Joseph Campbell. But you know, it is different than pursuing a goal. You do not imagine it and then create it. Instead, it finds you. I’ve had this experience, maybe two or three times. It is almost indescribable. Picture yourself with a gentle smile — not a big grin, but certainly not a frown. A contented awareness. A satisfied knowing. A pleasantly surprised insight. And a recognition of the oneness in which we exist. This is the bliss I am talking about.

Time slows down. You can almost see the flux of life as it flows around the toe you have dipped in the water. That is the difference you have made. Without you, it would be something else. You are now a part of it. Not a leaf caught on the surface in the eddy of a backwash, but the rock itself that alters the stream's meander.

This is why you bother. This is why it is worth your time, and your energy. This is why it demands your courage. This is why it requires your faith and your trust. This is why it is worth the risk. Yes, I am sure it is worth the risk. Are you?

Come with me. Hold my hand. I’ll help you, and you can help me. Together, we will take the plunge. We will put one foot in front of the other. We will walk toward the stream. And when we get to the water's edge, we will sit for a while. We will convince ourselves that we know what we are doing. Even though we cannot know.

And then we will take off our shoes, roll up our pants, and step confidently into the stream. Come. Come with me. We need each other. Now is when we need to act. This is why we bother.


Anonymous said...

When a lover says to the beloved, “You are beautiful,” the grateful reply, “You have made me so,” is often made.

Steven Crisp said...


I love your comment and believe what you say is true.

I'm not exactly sure how that relates to this post, but I'll reflect on it some more.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I read your post different than you intended it, but, my quote above directly related to your post in that my quote was my immediate reaction after reading your post.

Maybe the connection I make is my own idiosyncratic one (maybe the connection that I see would not stand up under a hard-nosed analysis).

Maybe my connection came from thinking your post concerns the transformation of consciousness.

Transformation of consciousness reminds me of falling in love (when two people utterly change each others universes by finding each other suddenly indescribably beautiful). us, our species, our human condition. It is only example of a transformation consciousness...and it is interesting that when the transformation happens, you never know where you are going until you get there (like falling in love).

Anyway, enjoying your thoughts....C ya

Steven Crisp said...


That's a beautiful perspective ... I particularly like the parenthetical "(when two people utterly change each others universes by finding each other suddenly indescribably beautiful)".

Isn't it fascinating the power that such transformations can have?

Thanks for elucidating your insight and reaction.