From Myself To Myself
May 12, 2012
FROM MYSELF TO MYSELF
I opened my computer this morning, as I do every morning - after stretching, wrestling with my cat, and forcing a guitar lesson down my throat – to write. I wanted to write about our community, and especially about our kitchen since that is where so much of my time is spent. About how in the very midst of all this turmoil, edginess and worry a great spark of creativity has busted through. I wanted to write about sweet Rachel (Snakes) “Zine” and how it explodes in bi-weekly black and white with all kinds of thoughtful and fun wonderment enclosed; about Laia and David’s kitchen video and how it has stormed forth with such grace and unpretentiousness that I almost can’t wait to go to work and be a continuing part in it’s processes; about Branan’s wonderful artwork presently showering the lodge, the Zine, and the menu boards with uncontested vision and grace; about the chefs and their crews (talk about creativity) who under any and all circumstances seek out the ways and means to rise to the occasion every shift, every day, to fill the bellies of the hungry ghosts that we and our guests all our. And then I wanted to widen out toward the tireless passions of Bill, Michael, Jerilyn and so many others battling day in and day out to find creative ways to address conditions found wanting; about the never ending struggle of management and board to push forward their creative vision against the winds that daily batter them. About the farm and garden gang out there rain and shine nurturing the land, encouraging from it the best it can give in a glory and abundance that can’t help but make you amazed and grateful for the excellence they nurture; about the grounds crew with Christina’s amazing eye, energy and grace forbidding the land to become anything less than a spectacle of love and elbow grease; about Josef and Mick and the selfless cabins crews’ unceasing and oft-times thankless diving again and again into the dust and disturbance to bring us order from the daily chaos life brings with it; about the gate crew staying up all night keeping us safe and secure; about the swarthy creativity of our maintenance folk - of Jake, and Ian, and Papa Leo - always there for the heavy work of care and repair; about the somatic crew blessing us - at our whim - with their touch and compassion; about the creative abundance that is our art barn; the unending challenge to our dedicated programs crew who do their very best to keep us interesting and relevant; about the teachers who teach, the guests who also teach us; about our educational people pool and the work scholars who drink from it; about the way Brian and Lance rock us; about the facilitators who “bring it” with full-tilt enthusiasm wherever and whenever it’s needed; about the office crew holding everything together one day at a time, a difficult task in the best of times, without which we would certainly crumble; and about the vast community of Esalenites around the world who remain, even after years of absence, so dedicated to the events played out here; about the joy screaming out at me each morning as I pass by the threatened Gazebo on my way to the lodge; and about all those who have left, moved on, by choice or not, leaving me with a sense of loss and a bit broken hearted. These are the things that I wanted to write about. About an incredible experiment begun fifty years ago, struggling forward, sometimes limping sometimes soaring, in these maddening times of wars, greeds and neglects. I must confess. It’s true. Esalen is nothing like the old days (I feel I can say this with some authority as I’ve had the honor and privilege to have been up and down that hill many thousands of times since my first encounter in 1969). The great minds seem to be missing. The revolutionary thought that gave birth to revolutionary practices in psychology, somatics, introspection and growth seem to be napping. I think it’s the times more than it is the people. But the times are always reflective of what came before. Maybe the great turbulence of the sixties left us, as a culture, in some sort of shock that has temporarily frozen the riskier, more exploratory and adventurous sides of ourselves; just as the horrors of two world wars somehow emotionally numbed us in the fifties. But just as in all places and in all times numbness serves to spark the turbulence that follows on its heels – as the excitement of the sixties followed the inner drabness of the fifties - I don’t doubt that the numbness of these present days will inevitably spark greater days of discovery as the future unfolds. We don’t have a lot to do with it. It just can’t help itself - cause and effect is our mother – what we’re born into It. It continues on and on ad-infinitum throughout the entirety of history. So, I find myself advising myself, when sunk in the upsets and condemnations over the varied webs of entanglements, to accept, act and glory in the moment - this moment - for it is, has been, and always will be the womb from which great things later come.
Sometimes I think the human condition truly is like Woody Allen’s shark. It never stops moving or ceases eating. If it does you can be sure it is dead. That’s it’s nature. We people-ish things continually move restlessly forward, sometimes with wisdom and sometimes without, quite incapable of applying the brakes, simply because there never were any installed. They seem to be left out of the DNA. Whether that is good or bad is irrelevant. Whether it comes forth with positive or negative effects is equally irrelevant. As one of my favorite muses, Paula Shaw always reminds me, “It is what it is. Get on with it.” And when I am pained by the process… well, pain is difficult, maybe the most difficult thing to accept, but it is part and parcel of the nature of this most glorious beast. And when I am put off by my own self-proclaimed platitudes (and I usually am), than good for me; I can learn something about myself. I’m usually not one to speechify to myself or others. I’m actually a guy with little conversation who oft-times finds it more comfortable beneath his blanket in utter and glorious fantasy and denial. It must be the creativity of the emerging times that’s gotten me to spout off. I hope you’ll forgive me. And grieve for those lost, take up the fight for their rights, know that any truth is never the absolute truth, but only a personal perspective on it that requires constant self-examination (the only examination that matters) and a difficultly-won willingness and ability to know that all other perspectives are equally legitimate and by listening to them, hearing them, contemplating them and embracing them I may get a peek at some kind of truer inner growth. Or… maybe not.
Jonathan Polansky Esalen Institute May 2012
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