Be Perfect II

Pointing to some children, Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Which implies we can’t be perfect unless we can be like children.

Since we all have been children, we’re able to take real or imaginary journeys back to the places of our childhood, and to the people and dreams of that part of our lives. And once we get there, we can let those places, people and dreams refresh our minds and help us cast off jaded parts of ourselves, and go to the territory on the boundary of the kingdom of heaven where the spirit most often seems to reside.

When I first got married and started a family I became someone other than who I am. I became somebody I’ll call “Responsible Man”. My ex-wife and probably my grown children might argue, “You weren’t all that responsible.” But, though I did quit jobs and spend what I otherwise might’ve saved on the time and opportunity to write, we always had a home and food. We never had to shop in thrift stores, except for furniture.

Master Jeong had us students sit in meditative posture. “Think about who you are,” he said. “Not what you do. Think about who you are at your essence.”

We are not who we generally feel we are. What we feel we are is what we’ve become. Who we really are is closer to who we were as children.

Therapists sometimes guide people to seek their inner child. New Age gurus take men out into the woods and have them yowl and wield big sticks.

I tell myself to banish “Responsible Man.” I can do that now that I own a home in California and my big kids are grown and educated and have real jobs, and my little Zoë has a professional mama and income from me that she’ll get no matter if I land in some asylum. But “Responsible Man” won’t let go of me. He has become a parasite. Maybe he’s my evil twin. Or maybe he knows that without him I’ll go wild and wreak havoc upon the world. “Okay then,” I tell him, “at least go to sleep when I’m writing.”

All of us artists would be wise to learn how to put whoever we have become asleep long enough every day to let us be who we essentially are, because that person is closer to perfect than the one we’ve become. And the closer to perfect, the less programmed and jaded, the more like those children Jesus pointed to when he proposed that to enter his kingdom we needed to become like them, the better at hearing the spirit.

From Writing and the Spirit