The American psyche is filled with slogans that create what we expect of ourselves without even knowing it. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Strive for the American Dream. Work hard, play hard. Be the best you can be. Go for all the gusto. Super-size, Super Man, Super Bowl, Super Woman, Super Natural, Super Smash Brothers.
The message is always onward, upward and victorious. The image is a linear trajectory in one direction. The mode of thinking is binary, cast in “either-or” suppositions with one “right” and one “wrong”.
This American repertoire, if you will, is exhausting. It will “work” in the short term (which keeps us pointing to anecdotal success stories and calling for more of the repertoire), but in the long term it is not natural. In fact, it works against nature, and it exhausts nature. It exhausts nature in us. This American repertoire ignores the cycles of life, the meandering required in most of our living in order to make good, long term progress. It ignores that down time, going backwards, stopping, resting, and surrender to the moment are all a part of the organic way our world and we who are part of it work.
Renewal requires return. If we have been up and out working in the daylight, we are required to return to the table, to the bed, to play, and to the darkness. Renewal always comes with the rhythms that are naturally built into our bodies, the weather, our relationships, and the spinning of the Earth herself around the Sun. There is no shame in giving into those rhythms. Our lives enjoy renewal when we begin to see that we are much more involved in something like a dance rather than a race. What does your life call you to return to today?
Tis a gift to be simple… Tis a gift to be free.. Tis a gift to come round where
we ought to be… This song always brings me around
to a place a renewal and peace in the dance of life.
Ah… And there in lies an example of how things vary with view and experience. That is one of those songs that always rubs me to wrong way because of an experience several years ago.
In the middle of an on-line science vs religion debate, a conservative preacher was reported as saying that people should just stop thinking with their heads and reasoning and “just be simple and believe”. Translation: Don’t think, just be stupid, shut up, and believe what I tell you without questioning me.
I know it’s not what that song means or intends but every time I hear it, the hair on my neck stands up and I have flashbacks to that debate. It’s not the song itself, it’s the song in the context of that experience and his words and his use of the term “be simple”. Nothing I can do about it, it will just always rub me the wrong way like fingernails on a blackboard. What works for some can have the exact opposite effect on others for unexpected reasons. Dilemma…