This morning I wrote what I thought was a beautiful blog, and when I hit publish, the whole darn thing completely disappeared!
It has been one of those mornings, in one of those weeks, in one of those months, in one of those l-on-n-g stretches of times when everything feels like a challenge.
Fortunately, if we've been alive long enough, we come to learn that during times like this -- when almost every single thing feels like a difficult life lesson -- we must trust in the process, no matter how long and winding and precipitous it may feel. Knowing that we are being taught EXACTLY what we need to learn. I am shown that over and over again. . .
A few hours ago, I was packing up a box I had pulled out of storage this week. It contained many of my dad's unpublished writings for a project about which I had been very excited. I had just learned that it would not be seeing the light of day as quickly as I had hoped, so it was with some sadness that I was packing it all away. My eye fell on an essay entitled "Genius in the Making". I began reading it, and a huge smile spread across my face. But when I got to the end of page one, there was nothing more. I dug deeper, and eventually I unearthed page three. But no matter how hard I looked, pages two and four were gone. No middle and no ending. No matter how deeply I dug. It took me a moment to realize how apt this was. I think you'll realize why when I share my dad's essay.
GENIUS IN THE MAKING by VINCENT PRICE
My daughter is not yet five years old, but there is no question in my mind that she is a genius. I can't tell yet what trail her genius will wander down to enter her finally in the Hall of Fame, but it will definitely be an artistic one. After all, she is my child!
At the moment, she is hardly Joan Sutherland in song, but genius is there in the way she can turn the tune of "My Country Tis of Thee" into something very recently composed by Stravinsky.
Dame Margot Fonteyn may be light atoe, but the loose plaster underneath my girl's room indicates to me that she is following more in Martha Graham's footsteps. Her twirls may end up in a heap of hair and hurts, but then every great dancer must learn to take a fall now and then and recover to go on in pounding pursuit of Terpsichore.
I may be prejudiced, but I can see in the running mile of drawings she has brought home from school elements of everyone from Jackson to Pollack. Paul Klee is naive compared to her. Her naivety is sophistication itself and her. . .
Her what? I have no idea because there is no page two.
We continue on page three.
. . .in a single morning.
Her genius is not only creative, however, for she has a deep appreciation of all the arts, especially television. Her favorite actors are quite rightly animals. Flipper certainly is more talented that the people who support him seem to be, and Judy, Daktari's daughter's pet chimp, makes a chump out of all the human cast week after week.
Make believe is something she believes in heart and soul. When my wife took her to a matinee of Peter Pan when Janet Blair and I did it last Christmas, she felt that the crocodile who ate Captain Hook's hand was the hero of the piece.
Oh, I suppose other fathers have doted on their daughters and other daughters have doted in return. I know painter fathers have lavished tons of. . .
What have they lavished? And how does it end? I have no idea.
No middle and no ending.
My whole life I feel as though have been looking for that middle and that ending. Who am I? How am I supposed to move through the world? What is my particular genius? Or do I even have one? And what can I do with it to help the world? And, of course, the question we all ask -- how does it all end?
During these times when fear seems ratcheted up -- this week, international scientists moved the Doomsday Clock forward 30 minutes closer to global apocalypse (the closest we have been since just after World War II); headlines bombarded us with the 11th school shooting in the first 23 days of the year along with a higher than usual dosage of disease, terrorism and hatred -- we all crave a little more certainty than usual. These are the precise times, however, when we must call upon something that paradoxically seems in spectacularly short supply in our century: Faith.
For those of us who believe in a Higher Power (whatever we may call It), this means it's time to lean when we want to push and to get quiet and listen for the still small voice when we think we want the world's assurance.
In the wee hours of this morning, praying deeply, I suddenly found myself imagining what it would be like to believe in Unconditional Love (with the Big L). Then, for one beautiful moment, I literally felt myself lean into a Big Spiritual Shoulder and hold a Big Spiritual Hand, I felt pure freedom. The freedom of knowing that I don't have to do anything to be loved. I realized that all the doing and struggling and worrying and trying I have been doing for decades now hasn't gotten me anywhere. Not only are my problems still there, but they feel even more deeply entrenched because I feel like I've "worked so hard" to get rid of them.
In that moment, however, I realized that my ONLY task is to let go, lean, and love. That's it. I realized that if we lean into Love, then we automatically love. And if we love, then that is all that matters. Everything shifts into place.
Is that simple? No. We have a million excuses not to love -- beginning with ourselves. But how far has that I'm not worthy, I'm a bad person, I don't deserve this or that gotten any of us? We just compensate for all that by buying shit we don't need, abusing and judging other people, eating stuff that isn't good for us, tweeting threats to people across the globe, drinking or drugging ourselves into oblivion.
But why does it take hard stuff to get us back to Love. Well, our amusement park fun house game show world is a very enticing place. As James Finley reminds us, it is only by experiencing a "holy discontent of the heart" that can we embrace the dark night of the soul in which we are "weaned by Infinite Love of a dependency on anything less than Infinite Love."
This, Finley says, in Faith in Love grounded in Hope.
Sign me up!
My father adored me. Page two and four or not, I know that, and not just through his words. It's because of him that I can even imagine what unconditional love feels like. But that love still had a desired outcome -- and although I never knew this essay existed, I have spent my whole adult like trying to be some kind of genius in the making.
The word genius comes from the Latin, meaning "attendant spirit present from one's birth, innate ability or inclination." We are ALL geniuses in the making -- because the attendant spirit present in us all -- no matter what our origins is the same. It is LOVE! The same love that is the beginning of our story supplies the middle and the end -- but only ONLY if we remember to lean, listen, and then just do what comes naturally. Love. Love ourselves. Love one another. Love our planet. Love the world whole.
Let us all embrace this genius in our making -- and love the world whole.