The long list of to-do’s stretches out like a wire across the ravine, the cable bridge I must walk to get to the promised land. It is unwise, I am told, to look around, especially to look down, when making this great crossing and, hence, the benefit of wearing blinders to keep one's eyes focused on the prize. The gods of commerce warn of the risk of losing balance, of falling off, of breaking bones and snapping ties to this sanctioned life, of getting lost and going it alone, and of death, not only from the fall, but from the loss of the love of society.
It seems tragic in extreme that I let these little things carry the weight of my world. But I do take care in my approach: slipping on the carefully crafted shoes, hoisting on the heavy backpack, grabbing the balance pole, and stepping out daily, straddling the line from morning to night, only to find the land of milk and honey, that once seemed so close, is another ravine away, another crossing required. The feeling of futility is swept aside by accepting a pat on the back as reward for my effort.
We are told stories of those who failed to follow the line, who fell to the ground, who faced shadowed threats, hunkering down against the night, tormented by the faint scurry of nocturnal beasts, the low moan of coyotes in the distance, and the more immediate buzz of disease ridden mosquitos. Many, we are told, never returned. Of those who did, we are told some lost their minds or their morals. They are institutionalized. Others became heroes, storytellers and poets who let us live another life through them.
There is a theme: We no longer have a place in the wild world. We are protected from it. We live longer, healthier lives. But we are also divorced from our own base nature, from the wild in us that goes underground, that lives hidden in canyon crevices, that howls in the dark and buzzes at our ears, that could suck out our soul and sicken us when we least expect it. And so, the fear mongers have a double threat: the actual dangers of life in the wild and the inner dangers of our own demonized nature.
All this hangs in the balance for me on a to-do list! I step out on the line, finding my footing on the wire, one step at time, looking ahead to solid ground. But, I am learning to let go of my fear of falling. I am lightening the load I carry in my mind so that I can almost walk on air. I long to move with such silent stealth that I disturb nothing. One day, I may actually walk so quietly on the earth that even the creatures of the night would not know, or would step aside out of respect for my skill, and I could be among them. I am almost ready. And "almost" is enough to waver on the rope, to require working the pole against my own desire or I will fall into life.
To what extent does your to-do list run your life?
© Nick LeForce
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