The Secret Way Out - Poem by Stephen Bennett
A meaning for life first wonders itself
in the mind of the child who asks
'what can I be when I'm grown up? '
and follows after the ghost
of the little one's mind play apparently
gathering together an answer
then gets stuck in the rest of it,
to finally waking up inside
every unknown it can find
and after some years inside
this unsolved riddle turns
everything into a joke:
a mental condition festering beneath
day to day thoughts bleeding
together political, social... I think
sometimes spiritual places like injuries,
whose pain smiles in scars
that hide the emptiness in its disguise.
Heroic tales come from our being victims
of whatever we have found
to complain about. Their stories
help us cope, by parading before us
principles to hold up, but they can't
bring us into the joy we were made for.
Yet in them frustrations become
perversely bearable sometimes
even romantically appealing.
The issue is not whether or not
we have gotten or can ever get
the answer to what ultimately
we are or will be, more it is
the shock of how much
through all this time we have
manifested this show of completeness
even though we've found no answer at all.
We meet the world forever
not knowing... required still
to introduce ourselves and
give an answer for any question,
including those we can't make
answers to give to ourselves.
as little as possible we do
as little as we can get away with.
Thinking escape is the substance of fun.
Wouldn't any answer be better
than this nothing that fills us?
We think not. What we are
or really can be is the real prize,
even though our question has no right
or wrong, we don't want to later on
decide ourselves differently
and find ourselves on the far end
of a long space of wasted time.
We will place our true art piece
on the mantle, not in a box,
and if this space is all there is,
the play out of this universe is
not altered by where you place
a picture of yourself or by
what you choose to look like or be.
We adjust to the game: make new rules,
and change them for no reason...
follow them strictly or not. And we talk
and think something else and something
further still, loosing the answer: we loose
the question and set up substitute purposes,
whose failures will never count.
The foundation of seriousness abandoned or
indefinitely on hold. The mental process
becomes permanently tentative. Thought
void of direction is only entertainment
and bottom line survival. Let's say
any two people like you and like me
are doing something maybe we are two
in love or in a new business
in some mutual chase of beautiful things,
which we know but can't yet see.
We want to build something together
to birth in an unformed future.
But we also want to avoid new pain.
So we want to hold on to each other.
since we are together, we make a plan,
and birth an image, a fantasy
with its own life, like a child
no other person can see. This plan-child
we make together, born once
we agree, this real life thing,
real not now but someday to be
gets placed or filed away,
like the child sent off to camp,
so it can grow, learn and be ready
for the real moment when it will
come to be. The poor thing
doesn't know why it's been sent here,
but deals with things as they appear.
When either of our two minds come back
to our dream plan, it's like the little boy or girl
getting a letter from home. From each of our
fantasy children we get messages.
When they go to arts and crafts,
the rawhide and gimp are the plan's natural
momentum detailing itself
into our subconscious.
Our anticipation of the plans' real happening
is when the little boy or girl have free time
and are playing at the pool or the beach.
The chance of the plan's being canceled
is the little girl getting a splinter or the little boy
scraping his knee. Their first aid
courses can soothe the pain. But each one
of these metaphorical children we make
and send to camp as fantasy off springs
of our hopeful selves continue to wonder
What am I doing here? What will I be?
When the plan doesn't happen,
the little boy or girl's mommy and daddy
don't show up when camp is over,
so they just die.
Although it's not real and it
doesn't matter in the same way
other things do,
just think how these imaginary little boys
and girls die by the millions.
No it doesn't really matter, but
I think it's a shame.
You and I, the provisional plan makers, who
don't know what
we will be have enough
to deal with in our miseries.
In our spirits and in our imaginations
we continue to birth these children,
we thought we wanted and could rear
and take care of. They are images
we thought we wanted for our lives. We thought
they would fulfill us.
They come into a pre-life, which is made
especially for them, in the glow of our hoping
but we just kill them coldly unconscious
of their death. An imaginary death
to an imaginary life. Worse than this
we make our apologies and excuses
not to these children we birth and kill,
but to the other plan makers like ourselves.
It doesn't seem necessary to give
excuses to a fantasy. Yet to us,
for other plan makers, the making of excuses
seems almost crucial: wonderful stories
about what happened to us
while we were doing something else
that overwhelmed the plans we had made.
Excuses or stories or whatever
they are, are misdirected.
The others don't need them.
Really neither do we.
Just think of think of all the things
in your mind as a group
of your children. Can you?
Do you know the difference between
an imaginary thought and
a real one? A real thought is a thought
thought by a real person during
the course of a real event pertaining to
that thinker's real situation.
Any thought not so... thought
by you about you somewhere
in any other context is
an imaginary thought about
an imaginary you.
If I think of anything other than
what is here and now,
then the 'I' who is having that thought,
is self a thought not a person.
Almost all of thought is imaginary.
... a secret way out.
Almost all people in this moment
are found in their thoughts but lost
in their reality... the ground
of our being. We know this, but
let's never forget that imagination will
always be the sky above all possibility!
The situation, which imaginary children have
at imaginary camp, is our situation too.
Our existence marks the shared plan
of larger forces. That may abandon us
or else support. We are not real
until we can direct our imaginary thought
into the state of its realness.
Every one of us has a head full.
No matter how good my head full is
it's nothing unless someone else
can think it with me.
The game-hood of thinking people
at the same mental point
multiple thought streams carrying the same
idea. If we can bridge our imaginary thoughts
to those of others, and learn to play free
and be ourselves played with,
so that we have real imaginations
as opposed to imaginary realities, then
dreams are real,
and our secret way is in.
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