It happens to most of us. We leave school and we get on a bus. We leave university and we get on a bus. We leave one job and we get another job and we get on a bus. This really hit me today in a dream that took me forcefully into the first day of my 32nd year of life on this planet. Where does the bus lead? It leads to work. It leads to a position...it lead's to a title and a paycheck. When you dream of a bus - it means your life is going along with the crowd and maybe it's a bit too normal for what might be healthy. But then this was MY dream. And I am not sure I have ever gone along with the crowd. Actually, I think I have mostly made a habit of hurling hand grenades into the crowd. To hell with the crowd...Pour gasoline on convention and lob in a lighted match.
But today this bus had an interesting passenger. There was me (ok, two interesting passengers). Then there was a bunch of teachers from the local American International school. And there was my yoga teacher. Showing up for work at the crack with the best of them. It was a big thing for me to see that.
There is a line in the Spiderman movie which I always warmed to. "With great power comes great responsibility." I believe that. But at one point does one recognize the center of power in one's life?
I once knew an older man who was a model for me. He was a good man. He had a lucrative job and he took care of his family. He went to the office every day and every day was much the same as the day before - one board meeting to the next. He was comfortable and life was predictable. He read voraciously on planes. He was always on a plane traveling from one hotel and corporate meeting to the next. He was a model for me because I looked to him and I saw sacrifice. He was also everything that I saw as deadly. I could not see a thread of passion in his life. I could see conformity, I could see obedience to the system. But no passion. The comfortable life. The number crunching inevitability of it all. I wanted to be a whale researcher or a rock music lyricist or a poet or a wildlife cameraman or a....Well, today when I saw the yoga teacher got on the bus...something clicked for me as it never had before. I saw two worlds merge in that simple act.
The world of my adventurous spirit merged with the world of the family man whose life example was so deadly for me. And I understood that synthesis to be the root meaning of the word "extraordinary." To be extraordinary one must wear the mask of the ordinary...go along with the crowd, ride the bus, follow the rules of the society...but do it all with a revolutionarily different inner story going on. My spiritual teachers have not been ordinary men. They are as extraodinary as you can find - if you knew how to find them that is. Very few would recognise his extraordinariness...because most people are blind. Ordinariness is a blind man riding the bus of routine and never seeing beyond the surface of things...taking pleasure in this, grumbling about that. Extraordinariness is a man with 20-20 vision riding the bus who sees at every level. He rides the bus like the ordinary man... but he is outside the field of the normal. He consents to ride the bus because that is the way of living in the world and being of service to it.
It's like the Roald Dahl book "Witches" I am reading to a kid right now. Only a trained eye can identify a witch. They always wear gloves. They have no toes, their saliva is blue and their scalp itches because they are all bald and have to wear wigs. Oh and their nostril openings are slightly bigger than the average person. I once heard my teacher say "Most of you will die without knowing who you are." It's true. It's also true that we all have to take that bus. The one who knows who he is and who rides the bus...he's living in a whole different field of reality...but he still rides the bus...he still partakes in life and that was the big lesson for me. Give yourself wholeheartedly to the task of honoring the system. Settle down to the routine of it all...but only if you are following a bigger path - for that keeps you sane and connected to what matters (money does not matter, prestige does not matter, position does not matter, authority does not matter - these are all insubstantial things)...otherwise you need a crisis to wake yourself up - because the alternative is deadly comfort. As Socrates (or Plato?) once said "the unquestioned life is not worth living"; equally the life of comfortable obscurity which is devoid of passion is deadly.
I'm on the bus...but I came on it only recently...and begrudgingly - after a lot of defiance and kicking and screaming and soul searching and experimentation...I could not find peace for many years until I had resolved the dilemma of matching my passion with the mundane realities of bodily existence. Ans that was the best birthday present - to see that my mundane teaching and business life is linked to my passion (which is what my yoga teacher represents to me - passion)...When you are on the bus and your heart is fully engaged - then you know you're blessed. As you mature...the true gifts of living come upon you when the subtle awareness dawns in you that the real rewards of experience are born of extending yourself in service to others. The privelege of a lifetime is being who you are. Yet that only holds meaning for us if we fully extend who we are. It is through being of service to others that we come to see ourselves and we have to ride on the bus to accomplish that.
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