The New Year. I am thinking about Being Good. As usual. And every year I wonder what I mean by ‘being good’.
‘Being’ just is.
‘Being’ is like light. It is not noticed unless it is reflected. That is the tricky part. The same light makes a red rose, a blue sky and any variety of shiny objects. Being just is. So Red, Blue and Any Variety of Shiny Objects depend on who is looking. The observer creates the scene.
And then there’s ‘Good’. Anything can be ‘good’ when compared to something ‘worse’. There are those who believe that ‘good’ is suffering. Those souls resonate with pain. A soul is a single note. A single note falls into accord with a similar frequency. This music is the in-visible fabric of our lives. Being good at something is being ‘one’ with it. An identity can get lost. The challenge is to find the right degree of separation. Being bad at something shows no accord. Where there are no chords, there will be no harmony. This is when we start playing with the words.
Every year, as we start again, I promise myself to be better at keeping my own word – to myself and others. Part of that process is being more precise about promises. What do I really mean? What do the words represent? The closer the words are to what actually happens, the better I feel. I have a habit of bending the words to fit. The New Year is time to gather my intentions and hold them up to the light.
In the old days, there was more ritual around letting go of what was and embracing what will be. The solstice was a celebration of the nature of life itself … a moment to let the manufactured mind go and join the larger process of which we are a part. The journey of life condensed into a ceremony. There are in-visible patterns that take shape in the flow of information available in the universe. Mythic patterms. Joseph Campbell writes about the Hero’s Journey. Jude Currivan describes the evolution from Loneliness to Aloneness to Alloneness. The essence of transformation is letting go.
I felt the transition more acutely this time because my brother died on the night of December 30th. He had been struggling for a couple of years with the effects of an under-active thyroid and severe diabetes. He was bed-ridden, blind and keen to have it all end. He believed that Christ awaited him on the other side. I gave permission to relieve extraordinary measures, when he fell into a coma. It is not that Jim is happier now. It is that he is no longer buffeted by dualities beyond his reach. He is no longer just Jim.
Truly knowing ‘Being’ requires knowing ‘Not-being’, so we can never really know. No thing can be distinguished that is everywhere, all the time. This is the secret of life … in order to be, it must end. For anything to be, it must pass … including the awareness that I am.
First we are instructed to “Be Good!”. Then we learn that Good is a relative matter. Values vary. Eventually I must decide for myself. What we can’t understand, while we are being taught what is what, is that the whole separation thing is made up. If ‘being’ means ‘consciousness’, then being ‘me’ means consciousness in a location. We are the same consciousness in different locations … all flowers on the same tree. We need to see the differences in order to take care of the business of being in a body. But mind is more than that. Dreams arise when the body rests.
Our mental structures are designed to move a body back and forth, to get from here to there, to take and give this and that. Put the labels aside and there is nothing that is not. That is being. The awareness that I am. Before the other stuff … the rest of the sentence … is added. ‘Sum’ is Latin for ‘I am’. Every moment, I am the whole thing.
To me, being good means joining the music … just a strain, once in a while. I can’t listen for long, I know that. I can’t listen and manage myself at the same time. It is renewing to be reminded that the music is there. A chord is made up of notes played simultaneously, a connection between two points on a circle of sound. The emergence of a shape in the air. The realization that I am more than just this.
Being good means being in accord with what appears to be different. Every moment, I am seeking resonance, sensing a way through the blizzard of labels and their insinuations. As I have grown older, the notes ring with memories. The melody underneath is so quiet, it is hard to hear. One must be listening closely. That is what I wish to feel more of this time around. The music in which I am such a tiny part.