Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Long Way

The Shortcut, Dalby Forest.

Dalby Forest is a forest located on the southern slopes of the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire, England. It is maintained by the UK Forestry Commission.

I have written of this before and I will again. It is sort of ground zero and I loop out and return. Something happened to me a long time ago now and I have never really understood it. On the other hand it so compellingly actually and overwhelmingly HAPPENED that I have never after been the man I was before it happened. I have always been grateful because I saw it, have always seen it, as a GOOD THING. I admit however that not everyone would see it that way if it happened to them and I doubt that anyone cares much that it happened to me.

I once thought I was supposed to get you all to care and that somehow this goal figured fairly directly in "Saving The World". This was back in the late 60's and early 70's, when such thinking was kind of ordinary. Later my thought metamorphosed as I joined with a kindred spirit and tried to make something happen. It all faded by the end of the seventies. The tasks became more ordinary and my wife suggested I return and finish my Bachelor's degree. I used this stuff I had specialized in and turned it into the last 28 credits I needed. I became a fairly rare critter, a holder of a Bachelor's in Philosophy and Psychology who earned his living as a machine designer in heavy industry - in Lumber, then Pulp and Paper, then Plywood, then as a consultant, and finally in Food Products.

All the while, it buzzed in the background, my commitment to that thing that happened, the lodestone of my life. Along the way I met another designer who said his religion was, "We either all go to heaven or we don't!" That's a statement that is actually profound theology and you can find it in more complex formulations if you chose to look in the theological literature. For example, the Universalists in the amalgam of the Unitarian-Universalist faith today actually hold to a variant of that statement, I beleive. He said it and it has turned out that I beleive it. I found my spiritual task had metamorphosed into a kind of Bodhisattva ideal - that I was now working to get us all to heaven - so to speak.

I ran into Buddhism (where the Bodhisattva ideal arises) and realized another thing. There are myriad paths and they partake of two types, the long ways and the short cuts. You see, the whole thrust of the Buddhist thing, if I may be so bold, is to jump the track of the Hindu polytheist long way home into a beyond the need of any god short cut that theoretically can be accomplished under the right discipline in a single life.

That very few actually do this is not surprising. The long way is our natural walk and will eventually bring success despite all confusions and resistances. The Bodhisattva is one who helps and we need more helpers so this is something to do. You don't actually try to escape but to set yourself into a helping position instead.

If you want to see it this way, the same sort of thing can be said of the mideast Judaeo-Christian monotheist traditions where the long way is held by the Jewish forbears and the short cuts have been accomplished first by Christians and then improved upon (so they say) by the Muslims. Our modern conflicts are all about the long term consequences of these variant visions as they impact each other. Christians might be allied with Jews these days but it wasn't always so. There have been historical periods where Jews escaped into Muslim zones because while the Muslims were not that kind the Christians were far more vicious.

I don't intend to get into all this, just to point out the context of the poem. There is such a thing as a spiritual short cut. Some people live for that. That is unusual. It is far more usual - most of us are doing the journey taking the long way even when we offer reverence for the short cut.

The Long Way

The glitter deceives
us as night takes our vision.
We are left with bones.
How the moon opens
her heart, how she sobs, cries out
across all our years,
waxing and waning,
and the tides still rise and fall.
So it is with us
as we rise and fall
according to the long way
we have still to go.

September 24, 2010 9:56 AM

The Long Way


  1. Travel a road
    Less travled
    A path
    Less defined
    Some feel it is
    To travel through
    Wide open spaces
    Others say it
    Is in the confines
    We find ourselves
    One thing is true
    We have more time
    On the long way arround


    P.S. you were correct about my word selection...thank you yet again my friend

  2. Beautiful and timely. I have been discussing (mostly by email) the long way with a Hindu and a Christian. I'm sending this post to both.

    I love the poem. Beautiful and sublime. It touched my heart. It echoes. Can't say it better than that.

    I found my own" way" around the time I started blogging. It's... convoluted, windy, worth the effort for some of the views. ;-)

    Oh dear... and I did the "change the world" for a fair bit! I have been a member of Blogblast for Peace for six/seven years now. We write each year on the 4th Nov. It's grown bigger and BIGGER. Do we make a difference? I doubt it, to be honest, but I have met some very interesting people and learnt a lot about myself.

    I'm very glad I stumbled onto your blog, Christopher.

    1. You are certainly welcome here, Michelle. You may have grasped by now that I am eclectic in my views. I would claim I have been guided so by experience rather than some sort of odd decision or other.

      I would claim I am following my destiny as best I can rather than some more usual path of defending against the risk of it... or at least that I am taking on the posture of such a role. On the other hand I have certainly taken my time doing it. That's the paradox in the whole thing. On one side it's an emergency, save the world or at least myself. On the other there is all the time in the world. Same life develops on either side, really...

      Along the way I take on the efforts and have learned a variety of communication skills. Amusingly, now that I am nearly done here, I am also rather good at what I do. My industrial experience revealed this kind of thing over and over. Just as I got really good at my thing in any project it was time to set it aside for good. Now my life has taken pretty much the same track.

      I think that arc of experience means something, that the point of it is to get skilled but not necessarily to go on to display excellence. I don't intend to imply that arc is everyone's, just that it is mine.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

Get Your Own Visitor Map!