Walking the Perimeters

But I don’t want to go among mad people, said Alice.
Oh, you can’t help that, said the cat. We’re all mad here.

~ Lewis Carroll

There are days and there are days. Today is one in which I awaken with the insight that all of us are mad. All. Some seem to revel in it; just look at the cartoon debacle in the US political arena any day of the week. Others appear to hold it together extremely well until something jolts us into our most vulnerable of places (the death of a loved one, a terminal illness). Even birth itself can inaugurate the unraveling. The cosmic egg is cracked. Brilliance emerges; the artist, the ballplayer, the botanist, the lama. The ecstasy, the suffering. Who wouldn’t go mad in the face of it?

What form, our pleasure? The madness of the composer, the scientist, the athlete, the saint? Are we hard wired to push boundaries, frontiers of justice, mercy, of knowledge or compassion? The fleeting forms of beauty or fame, of times in forest or studio, do we seek the expansive ocean or the surging tide of faces? Knowing the challenges one encounters in courting excellence, do we instead select the cloak of invisibility, of mute complicity, of service so selfless that we dare not ask another to share our burdens?

We do the best we can in managing life; enjoying it, even rejoicing. And the further we deplete that expressive bank account, the more surges forth to be revealed; the greater the challenge in ushering or stemming the flow, as dollop by gush it seeps from our pores onto the page, the canvas, into opulent anterooms or out onto the squalor of the streets. Drip, drip, dropping into the core of our humanity, dislodging the veils until we stand shivering and naked, the mime unmasked, the orphan turned out into the cold; is it possible, we wonder, to contain the truth of what lies revealed? Who are we, and to what purpose on this green and growing earth have humans been fashioned like gods and demons? Surely it is not simply to consume everything in sight, Pac-Man-like until, exhausted, we mulch back into soil from whence these formerly fecund bodies were contrived by a hand both delicate and careless, in turn?