My red hi-tops, purchased in Portland lo these many years ago, may not look like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, but I think they have served the same function: to realize (a) there’s no place like home; and (b) you’re always home.
What is “Home”? Surely rivers of ink, possibly oceans of it, have been spilled in describing it, but I will add my rivulet anyway. As a physical location, home is where you feel completely at ease. You can sprawl, you can crawl, you can spit, you can drink out of the milk carton, you can go barefoot. And/or, you can fart, you can hum, you can whistle badly, you can talk to yourself. You get to eat when you’re hungry, and go to bed when you’re tired. You can pick your nose, or use a tissue. It’s up to you. A couple who either shares these habits, or is not bothered one whit by their significant other doing them, is probably a pretty happy couple. They focus on the internal splendor, not the external façade, of their beloved.
Speaking of loved ones, I’m staying with my dear friend (and fellow Scorpio) Jules; I feel so welcome and at home. In Jules’ kitchen this morning, I decided to put away the clean dishes. “Hmm, I should probably put these lids here,” I said to myself. “No, no—that’s probably the wrong place! She won’t find them there…” As I thought that thought, I realized that there is no right or wrong place, because where dishes go is not important. It is not even a pimple on the arse of a gnat riding on a flea sitting on a dog following a camel following a Bedouin through the desert of eternity. There may be places for me to put the dishes which will make it easier for Jules to find, however. And here’s a thought: Maybe Jules doesn’t want me to lift one single, solitary finger while I’m staying with her, because she cares more about me as a person, about helping me become well, than about whether her dishes are put away at all, ever.
This brings me to my second definition of Home, of its mental location. It, too, is a place where you can be completely yourself, and—this is the kicker—love who you are when you’re that person. This is easier for some than others, at least based on a discussion I had with J.R. (my son) last night, my first night Home. My son, paraphrasing Alan Watts (I think that’s how to spell his name), wonders whether any book or person offering advice is in effect telling us that we’re not okay as we are. This is not good, because we are okay as we are.
While I see the logic of this argument, at least on its face, with the benefit of a good night’s sleep and several cups of great coffee, I also see its fallacies. How did Alan Watts come by his realization? Is he not, whether by radio broadcasts or books or whatever, giving his advice? That it’s not okay to wander the earth thinking we’re not okay? (Which thought I completely agree with, I might add.) I’m so so so so happy that my son, and others of his generation, have already figured out that they’re okay as they are; in fact, that they’re already perfect. The world, too, is exactly as it’s supposed to be.
It might help J.R. to understand why I delight in the self-help books I’ve been given, like the one by Byron Katie on The Work (mentioned in a previous blog). You see, my dear son, earlier generations in particular were taught—actively, daily, relentlessly—that they were not okay. This was accomplished mainly through organized religions, whose creeds insisted, “You start out bad, and just get worse, trust us.” However, just in case, you were to keep trying to do what’s “right,” because God might decide to give you a break, like winning some sort of Cosmic Lottery.
The ones who have been deciding what is “right” for several generations of humankind are largely white, male, and rich. In fact, there was a time, not so very long ago (indeed, has it passed?), where a human’s poverty was an indication God was not happy with that human’s performance, and illness was considered the physical manifestation of internal evil. And imagine! There were even those who thought that natural disasters—floods, earthquakes, volcanos—represented a judgment en masse upon the souls of the victims.
Do I think my tumors are a result of my past sins? No, I do not—at least, not now, thanks to lots of therapy. I do believe, however, that they are a result of my thinking that what I did in my past was sinful. The destructive chemicals produced by my body, our bodies, left to ferment and rot in our minds (and our minds are not housed in our brain, by the way, but I’ll discuss that at some other time), are the fodder for the cancer cells inherent in all of us. It’s very hard for a child not to be swayed by an adult, towering above her in a pulpit, who insists, “THE NATURAL MAN IS AN ENEMY TO GOD!” (“Woman” is included here, of course; she always is when it comes to divine decrees and intimations of nasty behavior), and “IF YOU SIN AFTER KNOWING RIGHT FROM WRONG, ALL YOUR PAST SINS WILL BE AGAIN ADDED UNTO YOU, AND YOU SHALL BE DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY!” (I don’t care how old you are, Eternity sounds like a hell of a long time.) Is it any wonder so many people think they’re not okay?
I think maybe Byron Katie and Mitch Albom and meditation gurus and the Dalai Lama and folks like that appeal to those of us who have a sneaking suspicion we’ve been lied to all along. They appeal to those of us who have not taken the mind-altering drugs that, well, alter the mind so the user glimpses the pure alright-ness, the perfection of her Self and her actions.
There are many ways of attaining the knowledge that you don’t need to attain knowledge, but I suspect that, at some point, it requires a slowing down, a quietness. Duality is at the core of our Universe: light/dark, day/night, chaos/order, noise/silence. I’ve noticed that dualities (and humans are as dual as the rest of the cosmos) are neither wrong or right; they just exist. Similarly, what we do to ourselves, for ourselves, or to/for others is not right or wrong, merely helpful or unhelpful in our quest to discover that, after all, we have no one to vanquish, and nothing to wrest from an enemy’s grip, except the false beliefs that have held us captive.
Alan Watts apparently believes that anyone who tries to enlighten us that we’re already enlightened is guilty of trying to “one-up” the Universe. I see them as pointing out the duality of our situation. I see them as the ones who said, as soon as Dorothy slipped on those ruby shoes, “Dude, I’ll bet those shoes will help her get back home! The power’s in the shoes, my friend. Wait and see!” As they watched the film, they focused on the shoes. The rest of us watched Dorothy’s journey.
And who’s to say who enjoyed the film more? I’m just glad to be Home.