05 May, 2008

In the shuffling madness

"I’ve got so much left to learn and no one left to fight”
–SSG Mac
In the shuffling madness
Of the locomotive breath,
Runs the all-time loser,
Headlong to his death.
He feels the piston scraping
Steam breaking on his brow
Old Charlie stole the handle and
The train won’t stop going
No way to slow down.
        Locomotive Breath, Jethro Tull
Balance is a tricky thing. If it weren’t, of course, we could all be tight rope walkers (I never looked that great in tights, anyway). I always liked to watch the gravity defying feats of the acrobats when I was a kid. Even today Cirque de Solei can take my breath away with their grace and panache.
My balance has just never been that good. Maybe that is why the Middle Path appeals to me so much; perhaps I think it will keep me away from the edge. I like to be on the edge, sometimes, but only on my own terms. To find myself on the precipice without a plan scares the living daylights out of me. If I stay in the center most of the time then there is less of a chance that, should I doze off, I will wake up walking a tightrope.
Standing still has never been my strong point. I have yet to achieve that state of zen in which I can be truly content for a long time just existing, just being still. I always feel, if I stay still too long, like I am going to fall over; and experience has taught me that I will get kicked when I am down.
We can substitute momentum for good balance, I think. It is simple; it is a matter of inertia. Anyone who has ever learned to ride a bike can tell you that it is always hardest starting out when one is going slow. That is why parents who cared ran alongside giving a little push; it added momentum. Once you get going the momentum keeps you up and all you have to do is steer.
Inertia is that property which resists change, and is solely dependent upon mass. It takes Energy (force over time) to overcome inertia.
I think thought processes can become inert; habits form. I look at mass (as applied to psychology) as a factor of time. The longer a particular thought process or behavior has gone on, the more mass it has, hence the more inertia, hence the harder it is to change.
Even a small force though, over a long time, can move a mountain. Look at water… The Grand Canyon speaks of the power of water over rock. That is why it has to be rock scissors paper and not rock scissors water. Water would trump everything. It is relentless. Tiny force, but long, long time. It doesn’t take a lot of force to make a change. But the less force you want to use, the more time it will take.
I think that is why affirmations work. If given enough time. I lack the patience, unfortunately. I wish I could muster the relentless dedication to change it would take to make peaceful changes in my life.
Instead, I am a bridge burner. I have gone through my life like Sherman through Georgia and now I have no refuge to which I could retreat. I tell myself that it is better that way, that a drowning man swims harder when he sees no hope of rescue. I tell myself that a man trying to get through the desert would certainly die if he turned around three quarters of the way through, and has a fighting chance if he keeps on his path.
I think I might just be playing fast and loose with my metaphors.
I think that maybe I just destroy everything in my wake because it is faster and I am afraid of slowing down. I think maybe I am just afraid that if I slow down long enough to look around I will find I have been on a tightrope all along.
And when you wake up on a tightrope, everyone knows you are not supposed to look down, which would be a suitably cynical explanation for my optimism.

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