Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mad Mission

NYU campus is intoxicating. Today students completing three years of graduate studies begin their thesis presentations. The air in the halls is an electricity I have not yet experienced. (Possibly due to the gathering of a significant number of faculty who are here at the same time to be shown the mind of the students. Role reversal!)

Stacey's thesis is "Life Is A Dream" by Pedro Calderon de la Barca. I open now to a random page (somewhere in act two):

"You're an insolent barbarian: heaven has kept its word;
and so, it is to heaven that I appeal,
you prideful, conceited man!

"And even though you now know who you are,
and the delusion has been lifted from you,
and you find yourself in a place
where you take precedence over all others,
pay close heed to my admonition
to be humble and tractable,
because you may just be dreaming,
even though you think you are awake!"

I spend lunch in Washington Square Park meditating and writing on my life as a prayer, consumed by forces bringing my own new life to me. All around me the women and the men are beautiful, bright colors all, coarsing with energies of new life. Seated in a place to witness and not merely observe, I consider how my awakening has come with such force that it is hard at the moment for me to contextualize humility... I love each of these people and cannot be here without my connection to them, and yet, if I do not focus on myself right now, all is lost to me. They are fragrances floating by.

Am I the soul of the character being spoken to, or am I a new form, teeming with wisdom from such classic works, experience and the whisperings of my blood? In any event, I suspect I remain humble and tractable, and certainly more aware that I may be dreaming an idea of me.

The fact is, I suggest to myself, such great realignment after 34 years won't be handed lightly. And pwimp tho' I may be, I like a good body slam. I am comfortable being run dizzy through the rinse cycle. For now contemplating my own equilibrium is all I can do. I will faith that this doesn't compromise humility. In fact, as I think of it, I have lately been acting upon a much greater capacity for compassion and attention to the lives of those close to me.

I ponder my new health and realize a strange dysfunction with the idea of walking in the ways of the Buddah, the Christ - such actions are as radical and taboo as anything one can contemplate now. I am simply daring myself to do it.

MAd Mission. I got the ambition. Sign me up.

Back to work, I stopped at the cafe in the commons room for water. Three girls were in front of me, giddy and colorful, making everything they observed between them an event. It was a cute and short enough exposure to not be tiring. Then I saw them waiting for the up elevator.

I got on and asked if they would press three. One of them did so, and then another of the girls - the who had been most interested in my reactions to them in line at the cafe said to me, "Third Floor..is that design?"

"Yes," I said.

"What do you design," she asked.

"I sit at my desk and work on a computer and watch the designers walk up and down the hall," I said.

"Fun," she said.


By the end of our exchange I was off the elevator and almost to my desk. As the door closed I could see that she was still interested in what I was up to. Did she suspect? In that slippery second, I rewound to Her question of me.

"What do you design," she says again.

"My life," I reply.



anne said...

it's always heartening to read something like this. i'd wish you luck, but luck's not what's called for. so i wish you bright cherry twisting lime instead. this is just a little hello from amsterdam, where everyone rides on bicycles and there's a canal on every corner.

Ray said...

Anne, might I ask: if you're in Amsterdam and you are riding a bike and you're finding a canal on every corner, is there maybe - just MAYBE something you're leaving out of the story?

I love bright cherry twisting lime and I love Amsterdam very much. Say hello for me.

BillBorn said...

design. de-sign. to remove sign value. to de-signify. to absorb as a gestalt... I think the fuel for designing came from the de-signing on the bench.

anne said...

ray, while there IS a 'coffee' shop in this story, it has NOTHING to do with the canals on every corner, and well you know it ... i have one more day here and will sure say hi for ya. then it's on to prague.