When someone goes missing in the woods, they send out a search party. They don’t let another evening pass when they discover that a person isn’t where they need to be.
But what if a person’s “never left the building” and they’ve been missing for years?
How do you search for someone who seems to be in the room?
I love books. I love buying books. I read a lot of the books that I buy.
(Maybe I should read my own “hungry ghost” post again….)
I used to buy all the “60’s manifestos” I ran across. By “60’s manifestos”, I mean all the hippy writings about living an authentic life, sticking it to the man, living without material possessions, living in a van down by the river, living…
Just generally “living”….there’s always going to be someone to tell you how to live. Why not let some old hippy tell you what’s going on? There may still be a commune somewhere you can join, after all.
Coming from a slightly more adult perspective, it looks pretty selfish and unproductive…but when you’re young, the life of freedom and adventure sounds pretty appealing.
But really, it’s just joining the stream of young people through the centuries who convinced themselves that their parents don’t know how to really live …nothing all that new here.
It’s the same old story with some new and desperate youthful energy behind the telling…a frantic “I’m going to do it better! I’m going to bust out of these chains of impending adulthood before I’m bound up like my parents!!”.
“Hididdlededee, an actor’s life for me” we keep singing as we skip off to Pleasure Island.
But what if the problem was more subtle? What if we really have dropped the ball somewhere? What if we’ve failed to live the genuine big life we were capable of living?
What if no one else in the world could see the lack but us?
We’d be so full of angst all the time. It’s hard enough when it’s something physical that we can quantify…weight, income, material possessions,etc….but when it gets into the spiritual, or “youthful promise”, or artistic integrity, or anything that’s hard to measure…then it sets us up for a lifetime of feeling like we’ve shortchanged ourselves.
We don’t really know anyone else’s hearts. We don’t know that they all had dreams that they’ve put on a back burner or given up on completely.
We each carry a hidden secret. We all have dreams and aspirations that don’t show their faces.
There is always going to be some kind of invisible bar that seems out of reach.
(Someone else would say, “What bar? What are you talking about? Bar?!”. It’s hard to see someone else’s aspirations.)
So…someone goes missing in the physical world and we send out a search party.
Someone goes missing in the spiritual world and it’s harder to see.
It’s the old story of the monk in the business suit, making his way through his own personal vigil. He can be full of life and understanding and not give his “hidden secret” away.
On the other hand, there may be someone who’s built up such a wall of apparent success that they can hide behind it. They can be a shell without a middle…dead inside but hard to read, like if they kept scurrying to the next camouflaged deceit fast enough no one would notice that they’re not really alive.
Who am I to know, though? I can’t even take care of myself sometimes.
I guess the real lesson is that Kerouac isn’t really a good role model…even if his exhortations to burn through life…”live, baby…live”… seem pretty appealing to someone just figuring things out.