A Long, Strange Trip

What can I say but: ‘my, it’s been a long strange trip.’

Life isn’t exactly like a fairy-tale. There is no bad guy to kill and get your happily ever after. There are just people confused about what they want and how to get it. We’re wrapped up in our own private dreams and it’s hard to see the big picture.

We begin to wake from the dream. The first question is, naturally, ‘what is this?’ Maybe we start to dissect and disintegrate, cutting pieces into pieces until we get to something so small that we can say, with great confidence, ‘this is it!’ But don’t you know, this little itty bitty something behaves just so strangely that our confusion only becomes more pronounced.

Or in the opposite direction, bigger and bigger and bigger until we can see the whole Universe out the window. What seemed like such a perfect and orderly clockwork turns out to twist and bend in ways we can’t comprehend and don’t you know there might just be more in the darkness than in the light. It’s the nonsensical painting of a madman where every point is the center and the whole thing is expanding like a four-dimensional balloon.

Perhaps there is no logic to the dream.

There is a logic, but it’s a dream logic. You have to be a little crazy to understand it. Some call it magical thinking. Maybe the whole Universe really does live in a mustard seed. Maybe your dog knows more about God than you do, because your dog doesn’t know anything. Maybe it really is the Apocalypse.

But let’s say the Apocalypse isn’t a New Year’s party or doom and gloom. What is it then?

It’s a long trip, you get the sense that you’ve been here before. There is a wall here, and we have to keep hitting into it. Again and again and again, until it breaks. There is no alternative. This is how we court grace. Again and again and again, until it breaks.

It’s a strange trip, which is to say, not normal. Normal is the narrow domain in which we find reprieve from our fears. But the trip always takes us far from normal. The trip takes us through hell, across purgatory, and then… beyond words. Beware of normal! Grace comes like fire to force us out of normal. Beware of normal, for it cannot last. Normal is a disaster waiting to happen.

So how has my trip been? It has been grace. I’ve been led, and I’ve set my own path. I’ve been burned, and I’ve been extinguished. I’ve sat like a stone and I’ve floated in the air. I’ve gone up and I’ve gone down and I’ve seen: ‘yes, this is it.’

Have I found what I’m looking for? Of course not. It’s not possible. It doesn’t exist.

What is my life but a seashell to offer back to the ocean? What is my writing but a long, strange lullaby?

I feel as though I am nearing the top of the mountain. Even now, I can see the view all around me. I can see how I struggled to get to where I am now– how silly! And I can see the rest of my life unfold before me like a long, red carpet. Challenges and trials, mundane repetitions and sparkling little moments of epiphany. The decline into old age, a graceful descent into the valley of Death. Home to Sister Death.

May this life be a celebration of existence in all its pain, pleasure and dullness. May it be a sustained prayer to all the idols of man and beyond them all. May the path I tread inspire others to dive into the unknown.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.


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