After living at the office for a year and a half, I’m moving to a house of my own, with a yard instead of a parking lot, a kitchen instead of a hotplate, a life apart from this editor’s life, with its office rhythms and office smells, its on-call jangle, its coarse downtown grain.
I love it, like rough wood, and like the home it’s been, but I’m wanting to see my reflection in smoother surfaces: the me who’s a cook and maybe a gardener, the week-end father who wants “something better” for the kids, the writer who needs solitude. My editor self is wonderfully competent, stirringly dedicated, and somewhat given to tyrannical rule over the other me’s, especially in his office domain. Sometimes he sees himself floating to Heaven while still seated at his desk — a desk clean as an angel’s conscience, no unanswered correspondence anchoring it to the world — and facing his Maker with coffee cup in hand and a pleasant but business-like smile, suggesting we’d best get to the point, as there’s much to do.
What I mostly need to do is take better care of myself. What a lopsided education I’ve had. I learned about the “checks and balances” in our system of government long before I discovered them, without aid of textbook, in myself. Do I govern myself wisely, compassionately, representing equally the community of personalities I call me? Sometimes, sometimes not. Surely not if I wink at my own corruption, slipping myself little lies like folded bills, or let the barked commands of my ego, with its urgent agendas, drown out the whispers of my heart.
This is my politics, the politics of consciousness — making a home for myself in the mansion of my soul, not bulldozing the tenement squalor but cleaning up the crap. Is this “politics,” the feisty radical in me asks? He’s in here; ask the right question and he’ll give the “right” answer — a one-eyed man telling you everyone else is blind. But I’m learning that bleeding hearts and bleeding eyes take us only to the edge of true seeing and compassion. The “ills” of society are the jagged edges of our own reflected images; if we’re at peace with ourselves, the “problems” of war and poverty and racism become clearer. We may still be political, in the traditional sense, but we won’t fool ourselves about who the “enemy” is. There are no enemies, just fear and ignorance — no more or less formidable than the dark places in ourselves. Face them, and you face the world, and the world rejoices. Can someone who doesn’t know himself offer us anything but his own fearful projections, thrown like a net to catch what he can of the world’s meaning? The “answers” keep swimming away from us until we love our water bodies. I urged someone the other day to “be strong like a rock,” and my friend Jenovefa suggested instead, “be strong like water.”
In this issue, Dr. Irving Oyle reminds us that “objective” reality is far different than we’ve been led to believe, if it can be said to exist at all, and that we have unimagined power to create our world. That’s the most revolutionary statement I know. Like any truth, it can be mangled beyond comprehension; our lusty egos take advantage of it, and forget the rest of the paradox: that we are gods, but also grains of sand, creating and created — and in the balance lies our power, awesome as the mighty reefs, gentle as the spray.