A few years ago, I had my astrological chart cast by a Vedic astrologer in an attempt to come up with a cosmic road map. I paid through the nose for this reading, so it’s fair to say I was looking for some nuts and bolts answers – like exactly when I would have a relationship that didn’t crash and burn just after takeoff. Instead, the astrologer told me: “Your mind goes 24 hours a day thinking and wondering, ‘what shall I do, when shall I do it, how will it happen, when will it happen, suppose it doesn’t happen, how do I protect myself, how will I be safe, how will I be in control, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, I don’t know what’s good for me, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know ... ‘” And he adamantly refused to tell me anything I wanted to hear. He also told me to forget about dating, at least until March 2013.
The next day, I took my journal with me to work and wrote down everything I could think of that I didn’t know. Here are some of my observations:
I don’t know if I have any regrets.
I don’t know how to laugh.
I don’t know how to cry.
I don’t know why the harder I try the harder it gets.
I don’t know why my cat prefers the carpet to the litter box.
I don’t know if UFOs exist.
I don’t know if professional wrestlers are faking it or not.
I don’t know if Eddie Haskell is really Alice Cooper.
I don’t know if Elvis is dead or if Jim Morrison is alive and running guns in Honduras.
I don’t know if you’ve heard the one about the Zen vacuum cleaner; It has no attachments ...
I wasn’t sure what to do with all these profound revelations, so I put them into a poem and titled it “Je Ne Sais Pas.”
It reminded me of the time when comedian Steve Martin and a friend got into a deep conversation about the nature of reality, the origin of consciousness and just about every audacious problem under the sun. Suddenly, they figured everything out. Reality made total sense and they had discovered the answers to life’s most complex mysteries. After two seconds of silence, they both looked each other in the eye, burst out laughing and staggered out into the street like a couple of drunks. Two weeks later, Martin got a job writing for the Smothers Brothers.
If there’s anything I can learn from Steve Martin, my astrologer and my journal, it might be that, despite my impassioned protests to the gods, I will have to accept the notion that mystery is an enigmatic practicality and that the most insightful answers are those delivered in silence.
A friend once shared with me a quote by Joseph Campbell that inspires me with its wisdom, comfort and terror: “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.”