Dangling between the rungs---Jeff Finlin

Dangling between the rungs---Jeff Finlin

I figured I could afford the 6 dollar book. After a month in quarantine, no eating out,

and a four day fast as a result of a gallbladder flare up that landed me in the ER till

four am one morning, I figured Steven Mitchell's translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s

poems might be a wise investment . Of course I didn't calculate the 5000 clams it

probably set me back for the ER visit. (when are they gonna realize the greedy shitshow

we call a healthcare system bootstraps the entire economy and country).... I ordered the book anyway.

I thought Rilke might do some good as I've been in a bit of a quandary lately about

the ideals that conflict the artist's life with the spiritual life. In living the spiritual life

we employ the act of being in silence. ...which means incorporating attention without

intention. As an artist, part of my attention has always had a roundabout intention.

That intention is to be heard and recognized on a certain level. Some artists take this

to the tenth degree, banging their love me cups on the jail bars of life till the day they

fall over dead from shame and exhaustion. The desire to be recognized and heard I

think is inherent in the DNA of any artist, no matter how pure the art form may be.

In the holy man’s it is not. The holy man knows his abundance comes from the act

of giving it all away...all of it...there is no "what about me" in the mix. The artist ultimately

needs to be heard or eventually his task just becomes another long hard slide into the

shitshow of self indulgence. After the lifelong pursuit of being an artist, I have felt the

underlying grind of these two opposing forces flowering into a proverbial rub that

always comes with transition. It's this rub that prevents the geometry of the cosmos

from unfolding like a gardenia from the mudworks within-opening oneself to new

dimensions of possibility. Without the rub there would never be the awareness that

something is amiss. The friction of the rub tells us we have to throw something overboard

or the ship is gonna sink or stay stuck. When the rub is transcended, clean high heat burns

away what's not needed so we can perform the art of being in its most useful form.

Here there is no worry of results- just enjoyment. Bliss can't be conjured up. One has

to be empty enough without intention for it to befall by itself as the plunder of the spheres,

which is freely given as grace.

Sometimes I get so clogged up that I forget what this actually feels like, until artificial,

serendipitous solutions provide relief. In other words we stumble into grace through

some kind of back door. Which for me was stumbling into the ER. I've never been given

the ability to feel what it feels like to feel normal. Its the curse of the creative and traumatized.

In spite of myself, the universe is still always expanding within, cascading me forth into

a new dimensions. It wraps me in the paradox of going somewhere and being still at the

same time. At my age I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm glad I'm not acting like a

30 year old at almost 60. ...trying to play desperate catch up...starting a new business...

or chasing 30 year old tail to the thump neath the glitter of disco balls.

Only the dull depression and pause of the meter ironically makes me realize I'm on

the right track. My ability to see and say out loud that a certain part of me is a

bumbling idiot is crucial to continued spiritual growth and success....no matter how

much one meditates..prays..chants..or creates...the art of being can elude one into a

dis-ease of forgetting. We get thrown out of our own natural geometry by default.

Fortunately for me I was in debilitating pain in the ER and was given a healthy dose

of morphine. It is truly the wonder drug. Unlike its white trash inbred cousins Percocet,

Vicodin or Oxycodone it stood alone as a bit of unbridled heaven in the doorway to a

potential hell. The difference in these drugs is like the difference between snorting pure

cocaine and snorting the stuff that's been cut with baby laxative and sawdust. It took

away the pain in a way that bore no residual nasty offspring. I slept like a baby that

night and was granted a brief gift of what it felt like to fly high and at ease. (thats why

its called medicine) I felt like what a Ford pinto might have felt if injected with a high

test racing fuel. Im glad no one ever gave it to me when I was young dumb and full

of cum, as more than likely it would have taken away what very little common sense

I'd actually procured. Luckily, I only got addicted to alcohol back in my disturbing days.

Getting addicted to this stuff would have been an entirely different beast to wrestle

in the lights of the colosseum....

Anyway, where was I?

So on the ladder that is the karmic thread leading upward, I find myself migrating back and

forth between two rungs -that of artist and holy man. The artist being the lower rung.

I have no doubt my purpose in this life in climbing the ladder is to dissolve the possibilities

and karma of art as an avenue of ultimate transcendence, so as, to move into the next life

in a higher form-that of a monk, yogi..priest..or yodeler. Or better yet a rat born in a grain

silo....whose sole intention might be that of attention only. Where the only realization is that

there is nothing that really needs changing at all.

I sat at a picnic table last summer on a mountain with some Wyoming ladies and contemplated

the art of letting go into this over a potluck of homemade deviled eggs, tater salad, delicious BBQ

and cherry pie. I expressed my reluctance to let go. One wise old bird looked at me between

bites of her cowboy baked beans and asked me if I knew what the other option was?

"No", I said.

She said, "death" with a mischievous knowing grin. All the old bags at the table cackled like a flock 

of giddy yellow birds. I'm still standing on the ladder reaching for the next rung asking

for the courage to let go, wary of my imminent migration upward whether I have a choice in the

matter or not.


  1. I's OK to 'ride the line'. It's not OK to cross it.

    Biology will do the crossing , ultimately, for all of us.

    So let that intellectual burden evanesce ;-)

    Addiction is not creation. We often confuse the two. Obviously you are passed that.

    Stop eating those damn fatty foods! :-)


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