Foreign Service Officers get to experience more transitions than most people. We go to different countries, do different things, speak different languages and in some ways even have different personas. It is no surprise that some people refer to them as “incarnations.” Each transformation seems more comprehensive or more important than the others, but from the longer perspective they don’t seem as discontinuous.
I am in the cleaning up and throwing away stage of this transition. It is a slow process because many things cause pause and stimulate introspection. Today I dug out a bunch of green pocket-notebooks, where I had taken notes and recorded impressions from my first weeks in Iraq until now. What should I do with them? Do I throw them out or save them? I have too much stuff, have written too many words. I feel the compulsion to write “history” but even I am unlikely ever to read it with any meaning.
The ephemeral nature of life is weighing on me just now. My history and observations are ephemeral. My blogging gives me the illusion of eminence. I read that there are more blogs than there are people in the earth. Most are not active, but that gives an idea of the scope. One more disappears like tears in the rain. So why write? Because this is one of the things I do.
This is not a useless “because it is there” rationalization. I believe you have to go through the motions and duties of life. The meaning lies in the activity itself as much as, maybe more than, the putative effects. The accomplishment of our activities is what creates joy and fulfillment. I have always written journals. Now some of that goes to the blog. What it has accomplished in the great scheme of things I don’t know. But it made me a better and more joyful person. My question in almost all parts of life is “So, what do I do?” You can often know what to do before you can understand the reasons and sometimes if you do the right things, the reasons follow.
I have never been very religious, but I believe in transcendent truth. There are many ways to truth. Religion is a road for some people. I love the idea of Jesus. I have read the Bible and still do. I know the words to the old hymns and they inspire me. These are good to help find the way to truth & right action, but religion is not the road I can travel. I cannot base my faith on words, no matter how beautiful, true or good. I usually know what to do, even when the explanations are difficult.
Mysterious experiences are not part of my daily thoughts, but I have a big one. Some people think I am nuts when I tell the story, but I will tell it anyway with the caveat that my words cannot describe the feeling. My father’s death affected me profoundly and grieved until I had a strange dream. In my dream I glimpsed a transcendent reality, an eternal now. Everybody, yesterday, today and tomorrow was there and I knew them all. I cannot explain much better, but even after more than ten years this feeling lingers and comforts me.
My title comes from an old science fiction movie called “Blade Runner”. A character, who had been a ruthless villain is about to die. He recalls his unique & fantastic experiences and laments that all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. It is all accompanied by the evocative music of Vangelis. Watch the scene at the link above. You could interpret it as a lamentation on the futility of life. I do not. I always found the scene vaguely uplifting. My dream gave me an answer to the words at least. Are tears in the rain lost? They are certainly small in comparison to the mass of rain water, but are they truly insignificant? Aren’t they really just returning to their “home” or did they ever really leave? Didn’t they always remain part? All the water in the world is always part of the water system. I am content with my own answers to the questions themselves and to the wider ones they imply. And I know what to do.
Life is changing for me again. I have been doing this part long enough and it is time to do something else. Brazil will be a new adventure with new ideas. It will change but stay the same. I look for meaning in the paradox.
The picture up top has nothing to do with the posting. It is my last left from my tree farm visit. It shows the truck up near the first wildlife plot. Alex has the truck now. Maybe he will let me use it when I need it.