The year 2000 was an extraordinary one. It was the year I wrote and produced my play, Prisoners, which in itself marked several milestones on my spiritual path. And there was this girl. A dark beauty who rekindled my passion for music. Gomez was just one of the bands we caught live that year at a small venue in town known euphemistically as Dick’s on Dick’s. The combination of workshopping the play, getting the musical groove back and opening up the loving soul sparked a profound spiritual experience. Ironically, the spiritual connectedness I felt at that time marked the beginning of the end for my dark beauty and I.
Shortly before the play’s opening night I picked up an issue of Common Ground, Vancouver’s monthly spiritualist magazine, and began idly flipping through it. My girlfriend watched, for a bit, then made that marvelously dismissive pfffft sound before saying, “Flakes”. I looked at her. I looked at her and had a moment.
I understood the way she responded to the headlines and images as I flipped through. I could look at it myself and see the flakiness of it all. But there was something else. Now there was something else.
Have you ever felt connected? I mean connected to everything, every person, every tree, even the gaseous molecules floating in the atmosphere. Every now and again I experience such a connectedness. It might come during a particularly striking sunset, or on a steep slope, my skis connecting perfect arcs while deep powder blows up over my shoulders. There may be a moment in a film that touches places, deep places, places that are otherwise protected from such connectedness. If you’ve shared such experiences — if you can clearly remember specific moments of profound spiritual connectedness — then you know what I’m talking about. If you think you have then you probably haven’t. It’s like saying, “I think I’ve had an orgasm.”
For those who don’t share this experience, there’s no way I can describe the combination of emotional, intellectual and spiritual experiences. There was a time when I thought perhaps very few people did share it. But as I move more toward a community of people experiencing ‘common ground,’ I think perhaps it’s quite common.
My dark beauty did not share that experience. I couldn’t describe it to her.
Sitting here in all this noise, man, I don’t get no peace
The cars below my street take me away piece by piece
Gonna leave everything I know
Gonna head out towards the sea
Gonna leave this city, man
Gonna head out towards the sea
Get miles away
Get miles away
Get miles away
Get miles away… I was already miles away from her.
This post has been sitting in the “drafts” bucket unfinished for weeks. I reread the lyrics above, and realise why it is I come back to it now. Just before coming here, I posted some quotes From Thomas Moore’s book, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life to our Facebook Page.
Like Tristan, I have taken the rudderless route in life, drifting from one barely familiar piece of land to the next, trusting fate, bringing my soures of stability with me — my music, my books, my small rituals…. Like him, I’ve been more interested in style than substance, in beauty more than fact, and I am easily distracted into new fateful adventures, just as he was carried off to sea as he was absorbed in a game of chess.
Tristan is a variety of the puer figure discussed by C. G. Jung and James Hillman, a figure often pictured in the air or on mountain peaks and sometimes recognized in dreams of flying. But there is also a puer of the waters, a boy afloat. I don’t think his mindless drifting is the best way to live, and I certainly don’t believe it’s a path everyone should take. but for some of us, Tristan’s is a watery fate that was set long before we were born, and we have no choice but to make music from its quick rhythms and frequent turns, and to accept the special melancholy — Tristan’s name means ‘sadness’ — that comes with this meandering style of life.
The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
Like Tristan: gonna leave everything I know, gonna head out towards the sea. How many times have I done that in my life? And here I am, following that watery metaphorical fate, like I did back in 2000.
While writing the play that summer, events like this happened all the time, events like re-opening a stalled draft only to realise I’d just moments before inadvertently discovered the passage and idea required to propel the draft forward. In 2000, I struggled with a particular scene in the play, left it alone, struggled, left it, despaired, struggled, found patience…and then the inspiration came, with a flash of instant recognition, from some long-forgotten event in my own life. Not only did it fit the scene perfectly, but it expanded themes already developed elsewhere in the script. Meanwhile, my actors would suggest changes to the dialog, and I would realise that their changes were, in fact, the way the play was intended to be written. Congruences. Synchronicities. Coincidences. Gifts. I came to understand that I was not writing a play, so much, as that a play already existed and we, my director, actors, stage manager, among others, and myself, were all conduits for bringing it to the page and, eventually, to the stage. I’ve since spoken with other writers, and this experience of ‘discovering the work’ rather than ‘creating’ it is surprisingly common. To discover the work, you need to be connected to something greater than yourself.
Oh, and I was. I was connected in that special way more often than not, so often, in fact, that for a period of about two weeks I felt that physically energetic sense of connection twenty-four hours a day. An epiphany. A world-changer. Already miles away from anything I knew, heading into very unfamiliar waters with that adventurer’s mad, reckless bliss, grinning ear-to-ear.
A few months after the play, my dark beauty and I finally broke up. Really, though, we’d already parted ways that one fateful day before the play opened. Like Tristan, I didn’t know where I was going. But as I glanced back to Common Ground and it’s flakes, I knew the direction the wind was taking me, who it was taking me away from, and the kind of people it was taking me toward. And I was OK with that.