Freedom is being responsible for nothing — plus every single choice we make.

If you and I were to slip into a crack and fall to the center of the earth, at the center of the precise center of the earth, we would be weightless. With nothing between us and the middle, there would be no gravitational pull on us, so we would weigh nothing, which of course we wouldn’t realize nor would we even remark on to each other. It would be too hot for chattiness — over 5,000 degrees — about as hot at the surface of the roiling, roasting, egg-frying sun, and so we would just bake together — weightless.

Cool! In a warm, high-pressure, floaty kind of way.

This postulated, in other words, say you and I do fall into a chute that leads to the earth’s core, lets agree to something. Let’s agree that if you don’t want to go there, it is your option to snag a root on the way down, or fall on your ice axe, if you have one. I want to experience 5,000 degrees and weightlessness and view the molten core within the core, but if you don’t then that is your choice.

Here is the thing in life. The places we go, the weightlessness we experience, the temperatures we allow ourselves, the self-arrestments we pull off, the times we choose to fall into a new landscape — these are up to each of us individually.

I’m thinking more and more these days: I am responsible, and you are too, for what we choose, and for where we are.

I am responsible, we are responsible, they are responsible and everyone else is responsible too! We are, the whole lot of us, choosers, travelers, Voortrekkers. Like the Afrikaan Voortrekkering pioneers, we choose to voyage toward the interior, to be “those who pull ahead,” or not.

I’m thinking of staying home less. I am crazed for the interior. I am wild for the core of things.

This summer I trekked to the beach. I hauled along some books and food; I ate the food; I ignored the books; I stared blankly at the ocean. I needed that big, bright blue expanse of liquid to leach from me a couple of pseudo-defamations, one or two persistent self-incriminations, a baker’s dozen addictive infatuations and a handful of snarled and tangled minor intimidations–and such.

Why? Why go there? Because I am responsible. I am responsible for the health of my psyche. I am responsible for where I go and what it does to my soul. I know this, and these days I am prepared to fight for every, freakin’, psychologically healthy moment possible.

I am going to the gym this afternoon to run until my heart pounds so hard I know I am alive. I am going to do this because I accept the premise that I become a very slightly different person with every choice I make, with every place I go, with everything I allow my soul to experience.

I am looking for opportunities these days to fall into deep, exhilarating, life-changing cracks of personal responsibility — cracks like God, love, justice, pain.

Recently I put myself up close to a person in extreme psychological pain. Why? They needed me, and mostly, I needed them, to remind me that life is full of extreme pain that must be attended to, that must be acknowledged, that must be endured, that must be experienced. Extreme pain is certain to make us temporarily insane, but afterwards, we may be able to move into a different future, knowing what we can only know after living in 5,000 degrees of mental anguish. What we know, after such heat, is the loss of weight, perhaps even the heavy fear and anxiety and selfishness that have kept us from rising up, and floating.

On the other side of responsibility, of our responsibility for engaging extreme experiences, experiences like meeting God, doing justice, choosing to love, being healthy, embracing other people’s pain — there is a strange and wonderful landscape with a super-animated kind of beauty — it’s weightlessness.

I’m Voortrekking toward it.

Why?

I am taking responsibility for the health of my own soul and of others.

Do you want to go with me?

Comments
  1. artwidow says:

    I want to go!

    Sent from my iPad

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