Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Baby Boomers, Divinity, and Bob Dylan

I was born 11 months after the end of World War II - a baby boomer. I was fortunate to survive infancy intact and not too damaged by the fears of my parents. I soon learned that if life was a battle between light and dark forces, most things were certainly shades of gray, a difficult and depressing vagueness of color.

My journey was not unusual. Many of us were trekking along, changing darkness into light, and returning to the darkness, again and again. Schools taught us to be good citizens, obey the rules, respect authority figures, wait your turn, and don’t cut in line — perfect lessons for growing a nation of factory workers and managers. The world, however, was changing. Computers and high technology introduced the Information Age and the time of American industrial domination was nearly over. By the end of my adolescence I knew that life demanded resourcefulness and creativity. In the mind and hands of a wizard, knowledge was worth more than gold. I had learned that pain passed away and revealed a blessing to the righteous. Distress was a call to be alive and fully conscious, if only for a moment. Joy was a gift I could offer to myself and others, and not an achievement. The challenge, I concluded, was to be divine.

The first time I saw divinity was when I looked into the eyes of my newborn daughter. I could have been blind and still known it. Compelled to ignore my emotions, words, and my entire conscious history, I allowed myself to be immersed in the sensation of being. I knew she was divine.

Two years ago, I could see the same divinity as I looked into the eyes of my dying mother. She was blind and still she knew it. Again, I was immersed in the sensation of her being. Nothing else mattered. She knew she was divine.

Last fall my family went to the Bob Dylan Show at the Mullins Center in Amherst. The show was not as compelling as a newborn child or a graceful death. Bob Dylan’s poetry has been there when I needed to imagine something in more than shades of gray – the remarkable sensation of being a leopardskin pillbox hat. Bob Dylan is divine, and I'm certain he knows it.

If conscious relationship is everything, as scientists and philosophers tell us it is, then an encounter with anyone or anything could provide meaningful and essential connections to our natural world. Having been taught to categorize, consume, and control in an attempt to manage my life, I learned to anticipate success and fear disappointment. Opening up to the here and now turned my life around. My hope is that we will re-sensitize ourselves to spontaneous engagement, and learn that in an apparently insignificant confrontation there exists a universe of fulfilling possibilities. Essentially, divine nature offers itself freely to those open and willing to enter into a relationship.

Disclaimer: The “divinity” mentioned above does not represent any specific religion, hierarchy, dogma, practice, theology, real or imaginary being; nor is it a fluffy white candy, usually made with egg white and nuts. In fact, the author assumes that no common definition of divinity or spirituality exists. This is one reason why Native Americans tell stories to their children and have a rich oral tradition. They do not write their stories down. I have been told many believe that once a story is written, its truth begins to die. Divinity is discovered in the unrecorded spontaneous sensation of being. I may keep writing this blog anyway.


ORION said...

Aloha and welcome. I am adding you to my favorites.
I figure all us writers need a little therapy from time to time.

Manic Mom said...

Blogger's Anonymous:

Um, hi. I'm Manic Mom, and I've uh, I've been ahem, blogging for 2-1/2 years.

[Clap, clap, clap... ]

Welcome to the blog community! You will meet some of the neatest people through sharing your words!

Loved this line you wrote: The first time I saw divinity was when I looked into the eyes of my newborn daughter.

Michelle O'Neil said...

"The first time I saw divinity was when I looked into the eyes of my newborn daughter. I could have been blind and still known it. Compelled to ignore my emotions, words, and my entire conscious history, I allowed myself to be immersed in the sensation of being. I knew she was divine."

-Simply beautiful.

Tena said...

TR, you were born to blog.

Kanani said...

*scratches head, reaches for coffee*

Divine. Divinity. Divination.
I suppose what you are talking about is not only being what is called "in the moment," but observing and feeling deeplywhat is happening before you and not in a way that assumes anything.

I find myself grateful for small things. Driving in the car with my son, going to buy burgers... I know this moment will never happen again, so I soak it in. I observe, I listen, I try to impart something, even if it's mundane: "Special sauce is ketchup, relish and mayo." And though it sounds silly, what a privilege it is to do something so simple and enjoy it with him.

The other day, my daughter came home with a head full of nits. Ick. Yes, I freaked out and spent half hour googling. (Note: google IS the new panic tool). But even this became a divine moment. Sitting in the kitchen talking to her, using the fine tooth comb. Then involving everyone to clean and wash the house together.

Yes, it's those small moments, even the stressful ones, that are my divine.

mcewen said...

You keep writing dearie. Blogging is one of the cheapest and most effective methods of self therapy.

Chumplet said...

Spirituality doesn't have to be limited to the rigid structure of religion. It's a peace within ourselves, a feeling of wholeness that surrounds us and expands to include our world.

I was born at the tail end of the baby boom. As I approached adulthood, the world was in a different kind of upheaval. Well, it's always in upheaval, isn't it?

Your introduction is wonderful. John was wise to point us in your direction. I wish you all the best in the blogger world!

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

I, too, felt the awe-enfolding glory of my firstborn and was blessed enough to know it again two years later when my second child was born.

So true of my mother's passing. Odd, that I'd never cross refrenced the two events until now.

Jan said...


What a wonderfully written blog. I certainly deserves careful reading as each phrase is full of imagery and thought. I can see where you and JER would have fascinating conversations - I would love to be a fly on the wall. Divinity in a leopard pill box hat is pretty out there - or in the dylans own words ... "wow-ee..pretty scary" - but certainly a fun concept.

I had the pleasure of seeing "Wicked" in NYC last month and found a touch of divinity in a song there - one of the last of the show about people coming into our lives for a reason.... the words "I don't know if I have been changed for the BETTER, but because I know you, I have been changed for GOOD." It brought me to my knees of gratitude of all the wonderful people who I have been blessed to be able to call "friend" - and all the ones to come. I feel I am going to addanother. Hope so.

Kanani said...

Okay, so you want to know what is divine?
THIS is divine.

The nitpicker came.
My daughter did not have nits.
She had hair caps.... the cuticle at the base of the hair shaft that did not get rinsed out properly, masquerading as a nit.

We laughed.
This was divine, too.

John Elder Robison said...

I have tagged you. Go back to Drama Mama's blog to get an idea, I think. I was never tagged before and now, I have passed it on