I’m living at a crossroads. I feel like I’ve reached a point where my public, socio-political self and my spiritual self can no longer co-exist.
The past few years have taken a hellish toll on me. And on so many of my friends. The anti-human drift of our society and our economy have gotten steadily worse since … well, forever. But especially since 1980. And in 2016 we traded worse in for unspeakable.
I identify strongly with my antifascist fellow travelers, and often wish I could do more to help. Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, hatemongers of all stripes. Media propaganda arms. Traitors, seditionists, conspirators and collaborators in our government. And on top of that let’s heap a pandemic and millions upon millions of sociopaths whose definition of liberty includes the “right” to endanger our lives.
Anybody who wonders how I felt about it all is in luck: simply have a quick look at the hundreds of pieces I wrote on these subjects at Scholars & Rogues or Lullaby Pit.
The problem is that rage – justified or not – may not be sustainable. There comes a time where it’s clear the only person you’re punishing is yourself. When you read that an antivaxxer died a painful death from COVID, and your reaction is to cheer, to hope that it happens to the rest of them… Even if the sentiment is perfectly sensible from all kinds of perspectives, you have to pull up short and ask if this is the person you really need to be.
And by “you,” of course, I mean me.
A year or two ago I accidentally began writing a “book” on “Zen.” It started as a lark with a couple of short satires, but slowly it began insisting it was something more substantive. I knew absolutely nothing about Zen, but I felt a professional obligation to try and cultivate at least a thin, Wikipedia-level understanding of the high spots.
Over the months the project took hold of me, and I found myself taking the idea seriously. I’m not even Buddhist, but the things I was reading, the things I was trying to write about, they began to affect me. Slowly, but surely, I began giving way to a sort of … “awakening” is probably way too self-important a word, so let’s call it a sort of reframing of my intent toward the world, and toward myself.
Blah blah blah. The book is largely a comedy. For one thing, that makes it fun to read. For another, it’s a constant reminder that I’m a rampaging imposter.
But … an imposter who’s having a very hard time reconciling the conflicting impulses inside him. An imposter who wants to be a better human being. An imposter who’s probably taken enough years off his life already and is willing to give peace a chance.
Welcome to FishCountingWater, which is to be home to my little journey. I’d also like if it helped grease the skids on your journey, too. I’m better when I’m dialoguing than when I’m lecturing, and the insights in the book, such as they are, owe hugely to contributions from the incredibly smart, wonderful human beings I’m fortunate to know.
If you read this far, thank you. Let’s begin.