I don’t know whether I heard that or imagined it or when or where. Doesn’t matter. Pretty bold statement, though. And goddess knows I’m prone to over reducing things, but this one is worth working with.
What is the problem?
And right there an inquiry could begin.
So, I’m in a funk. Been in and out of it for a while. Right now we’re out here in the Great Southwestern Desert whereas we reside in the Great Northeastern Forest. Out of the forest into the high and dry sight lines of forever. And I’m ridin kinda low. Small things piss me off.
Nobody’s mistreating me. There’s just this low moan going on. I’ve got a low grade blues.
Okay doctor that’s the symptom, now what’s the problem?
We’re going to move here. So there’s Big Change imminent. Experienced as lots of impending loss. And I’m going to land here without a gig, most likely. One of the voices in my head says, You will simplify. Another voice in my head says, You will starve. You will starve and your wife will starve too and that’s on you. Then the first voice says, But you’re going to teach yoga. And the second voice falls down on the deck overcome with convulsive laughter.
Well if I let my wife starve I’m not much of a man am I. Would you want to take a yoga class from that guy?
What is the problem?
The problem is that I need to hold my end up in this world. I’ve got certain abilities that present me with certain opportunities and if I’m doing right I step up and into those opportunities, and if I don’t I’m a dick. This is not avoidable. This is the law.
Okay… This funk is a clogged drain backing up on me.
Wait. I’m going to shift metaphors…
This is a knot. I want to loosen it, but it gets tighter. What’s pulling on the ends, pulling it tighter? It isn’t my circumstances, there’s really nothing much wrong with my circumstances. I know better than to think I can get the world lined up to suit me. Don’t I? I’m a little anxious and worried about things – the Big Change imminent. But anxious and worried is just my reaction to the imagining of something that is not even in reality. Right? I know better than that. But there it is.
So, Dear Reader, where is the spiritual problem I promised – the spiritual knot? I find I have to make a leap. I’d meant to present you with a continuous, logical progression toward the proof of my thesis. But the thread runs out… The road ends. I can find no spiritual knot. I have only this heartfelt conviction: The spirit is not of the nature of knots. It is the mind that tightens back on itself. And all knots of the mind will release in this question of the spirit: Which way lies my dharma? The knots arise when I do not tend to that question, and when I do, they dissolve. My duty becomes clear. My actions are my best. My wife won’t starve.
Back to the funk…
I’m walking along through the Saturday morning farmer’s market. My wife and her mother are up ahead somewhere. And I hear somebody playing the blues. I walk over that way and I see the young bluesman. I get closer and I see that he’s bottlenecking a twelve-string. You don’t see that every day. He sounds pretty good. I get closer and I see he’s missing a tuning key – he’s playing an eleven-string. He finishes and starts to put his guitar away. I go up, put a dollar in his case and tell him I like the music, and I comment on his guitar. He says actually it’s only a six-string, and I see that he has strung only six of the keys. He says he likes having the extra tuning keys, because that way he has some extras in case somebody comes along looking to buy a tuning key.
And so it was, that while I was not all the way sanctified, I was mos def de-funktified.
Let it roll like a big wheel
In a Georgia cotton field
Shut up, baby
Big Joe Turner (1953)