Sometimes, it’s not so much what happens, but how it happens. Think of all the misfortune in your life that you could have avoided, if only you would have known. Might you have steered clear of that doomed heading, averting the shoals of misfortune, making different choices along the chain of events which contributed to your wreck?
I’ve always felt this rootlessness, this restlessness, never felt at home in my own skin. Condemned to search for meaning, I never comfortable with the formulaic meanings of the world. You know, the ones you may find in a religion or a certain philosophy or the equations for happiness provided by commercials for deodorant or sports cars, the ones that show the dude with the right candy swinging off his arm at the beach.
If we come into this world for a reason, then for me, I never found that reason. I wandered from place to place, from job to job, always searching in tomorrow for what I didn’t find today, in there to fill the emptiness that I lacked here. I suppose that’s why it happened. That’s why things ended the way they did.
No one wanted it to end this way. Yet sometimes great tragedy is the catalyst for the vital reaction without which something inside us remains dormant, remains unchanged. Yale was that catalyst for me, and, I believe, for those of us who participated in the trial over his guardianship. We each have seeds within us, some of which germinate and others which do not. The unrevealed tragedy of every life is never discovering how many unborn seeds we each carry within us to our deaths.
Until Yale walked into my office that spring day with a guardianship petition in his hand, asking me to defend him against it, I was without destiny. At least a destiny which I could know. Yale gave me a temporary destiny. Yet when we find our destiny through a another, oftentimes we throw qualities upon them which they do not in truth possess. We see in them what we want to see. We make them into what we need them to be. In my former business as a mental health counselor, that’s called codependency. It’s a failing as old as humans are.
I’m on the road now. I plan to wander as far in miles and as long in time as the wheels on my truck and the years left in my body will allow. Yet, maybe for the first time since I was a boy, I am not without a heading. I used to think that a person needed a job, a partner, a home, a dog, to be somebody. These bolt-on attributes were money in the bank. They told a guy who he was, where he was, and where he was going.
Yale reminded me that these items in a person’s kit don’t define what a human being is. What a human being is can’t be changed. It’s unalterable. “It’s not having,” he would have said. Since we’re not human havings. “It’s not what he accomplishes,” he might’ve said and and smiled at me, since we’re not human doings. It’s what we already are.
When we seek, when we search outside ourselves for the answer, for our identities, we push what we really are out of our awareness, in favor of a false self. And since that false self is nothing but lack, nothing but an I want or an I need or an I gotta have, a bottomless hole, we’re perpetually starving for ourselves, for what we really are, for what we already are. That’s all that Yale’s notes, what he called The Dirt, were really trying to say. Only since his disability trapped the meaning inside him, he had to write them. Only since these truths couldn’t even be uttered in words or understood by the mind that uses language, they couldn’t even be written down. Wisdom must remain unspoken. Not because it’s a secret, but because it’s beyond terms. Yale woke me to all that.
We hunger only for ourselves; for our real and lost selves. Not lost in the sense you lose your keys and maybe never find them. Not lost in the way you lose your innocence and believe that, like youth, it’s gone from your forever. But only lost in the sense that we’ve hidden it from ourselves. That’s all life’s mystery is: something mysterious because we’ve lost touch with it, concealed it from our awareness. That’s what Yale reawakened in me. That’s what we reminded me of that I’d forgotten.
So now, even though I’m a perpetual wanderer, without a home or a partner or money in the bank for the first time since I can remember, I have myself, so I have it all. I’ve reclaimed my destiny.
The Dirt, The Journey of a Cowboy Mystic, is due out on May 30th.
This post regards a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incident are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.