Putting Omens on hold

On All Hallows Eve and the following morning, I wore a dyed leather eyemask of green leaves and antlers, with an accompanying outfit–the Green man of medieval art and myth. Days later just after describing my costume to a friend I encountered another pair of symbols: a remarkable leaf colored bright green and yellow, with rich crimson veins, and a sidewalk art fixture making reference to “the Green man of Portland. I felt in my bones that these three signs were some sort of portent for my life.

So I snapped pics of the fixture on my cellphone, came home and shoved the leaf in the fridge with a damp paper towel, and promptly forgot about the whole thing for almost a month.

Today I pulled out the Omens to contemplate them, and I wondered–what culture do I live in, what manner of man have I become, that I would treat such signs and wonders as bottled inspiration–a spiritual snack to be put on ice until it’s convenient to enjoy it?

I think we’ve become a society with both the means and the necessity of storing and organizing information to be processed in the cracks around our busy and rigid schedules. But paradocixally, we actually have preposterous amounts of free time, even among the working classes, but so much of that is taken up by processing an incessant and overwhelming information feed, often of trivial matters. After all, when I arrived home with those omens in hand, it was late, I had work early next morning–and I still needed to check my updates on Facebook!

Now, it sort of worked.  Using technology to preserve the imagery helped me to recall that experience weeks later, and process it with some semblance of authenticity. But would I want to make a habit of that? If the Infinite has something to say to me, do I really want to dispatch some weasely Personal Assistant to take a memo for me and present it to me at next morning’s daily briefing? I want to be–I PRESENT myself as–a person who’s in tune with the spiritual dimensions around me. Doesn’t that mean living in the holy moment, taking the time to gratefully and courteously accept that which enriches life as it comes to me?

In all likelihood I’m going to continue to check Facebook, work for the man, and multitask my mental and spiritual attention for some time to come. But I’d like to remember not to treat numinous gifts with such cavalier presumption.



Story meets Life

My friend Eric tells great stories. I don’t mean that he makes up his own stories, or he tells tales of legends of old around a campfire, or anything. He just tells great, engaging, often hilarious stories about things he’s actually done and lived through. Like the time the transmission went out on his van and he tried to get it home by sitting in it to steer while his pal RC pushed the thing uphill toward a busy intersection and braking just in time to avoid disaster and praying to God the nearby cops didn’t bust ’em.

Eric’s got stories like that. I don’t. I mean, I tell stories about how my day went, and the bullshit I had to put up with at work, or nutty person I ran into on the bus. . .but never stories like that. Stories of real danger and crazy hijinks, often involving alcohol. Stories of narrow escapes from calamitous fates and real life that isn’t spent in front of a computer screen wishing for adventure in my life and seeking it through shared imagining and rolling dice.

Now, sure, a lot of Eric’s stories are the result of questionable judgment (like ignoring his wife’s advice to call a tow truck). . .but I envy him just the same. He lives a life of experiences, real ones, while I read books an watch movies and play characters and yearn. I don’t live a life of ducking danger, flouting authority, or daring escapades. I live a life of thought, not action.

The Society for Creative Anachronisms calls these “No shit, there I was” stories. I’ve enjoyed nights around a campfire hearing story after story of these funny, endearing, and outrageous life experiences. And silently regretted that I don’t have a “No shit” story. Not even close.

When I think about bringing story and everyday life together, this is what comes to mind. But what do I really want? A life of foolhardy danger? Less common sense than the little I already have? An existence divorced from the joys and responsibilities of founding a stable family?

Maybe I do. Or maybe I just want meaning in some form, and I instinctively grok that meaning comes not from thinking, but from doing.