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Instructions for the Journey

by Pat Schneider

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don't grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It's easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,

wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.


-- from Olive Street Transfer, by Pat Schneider
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Poetry Chaikhana | Pat Schneider - Instructions for the Journey

This is a lovely poem.  I like it a whole lot.  But i get sidetracked by two lines:

Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.

is it that i am incomplete?  Perhaps i am already whole and just don't know it.

I love creation myths.  In the proccess of explaining how it all happened, they also go on to explain how we get here and why we are as we think we are.  In the modern world we are lucky enough to have two creation myths.

One is of fairly recent origin; it is housed in the institution  called science.  It may be prefered by a slight majority of Americans, i'm not really sure.  It says that in a process that began billions of years ago the "void" suddenly began to release energy.  The myth does not posit a creator, except possibly the "Higgs Boson.  Eventually energy brought forth inorganic matter, which eventully evolved into organic matter, which eventually became conscious, and finally self conscious.  Self conscious is said to be housed in a single species -- homo sapiens. Homo-sapiens-sapiens (us) are the sole surviving subspecies of that species.  It is up to us, mostly through applied technology to further the evolutionary process.  Like believers in all myths, believers consider this to be the truth.

The other myth is more ancient and is housed in the institution called religion. God brooded over the face of the deep (the void) and spoke to it.  His words bought forth light, then form, then matter, then life and consciousness, and, on the sixth day, man (male and female-or maybe just male according to an alternative version of the story.  We homo-sapiens-sapiens were created in God's image (perfect?) but we screwed that up pretty quickly.  And we have been struggling along against our imperfections without success, waiting for God or his agents to come and save us or to end the tragedy.  A large minority, maybe a majority, of Americans believe this.  Of course, they call it the truth.

I lke some "tribal" myths better than these.  But i do like both of  these.  I get lots of  insight from each of them.  The two lines i mentioned seem consistent  with the first (science) myth, but not the second.  The second myth and many hundreds (thousands?) similar to it suggest that we were made perfect and that perfection still lies, unrecognized, within each of us.  The reason for shedding our skins is not to grow better ones, but to discover who we already are.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
everville340
Aug. 23rd, 2018 11:30 pm (UTC)
Amen, brother.
bobby1933
Aug. 25th, 2018 03:56 am (UTC)
Amen, indeed. I read this poem six times. The first five times i read "catechisms" instead of "cataclysms." :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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