It is interesting how our tastes change over time. I used to love getting messy, playing in the mud, digging in the dirt. I’m sure I was like a typical toddler happy to have my hair full of hummus, or delighted to have my diaper deluged in dirt. But at some point, I’m not even clear when, something changed. I’m no longer a fan of muck.
I’m not a huge fan of swimming in lakes, at least not ones with slick slimy banks. I don’t like mucking about in the mud. That said, give me a fishing rod and a good set of waders and boots and I’ll slog through anything. I guess just keep the mud off my skin.
On my commute this week I went over a dirty stream flowing into the San Francisco bay, lined with a slimy, muddy bank. And my first thought was “Yuck!!!”. My second thought was about my 15 month old and how much he would love running his fingers through it and finger painting his face with it… Which again made me go “Yuck!”
I’m sure if I allowed my 15 month old near it, he would be in seventh heaven. A seemingly limitless supply of mud! For sliding around in and squishing between your toes. Can you image the feeling of coating your hair in its brown gushy goodness? I can, and as previously stated, my current mind set is, “Yuck!”
I have to say, at least in part, I have health concerns associated with the mud itself. Who knows what kind of bacteria or other organisms might be growing in those muddy piles. And I also have to say there is a little bit of fear involved. Maybe I had enough people
correct me educate me over the years. Maybe I was told one too many times of the dangers of getting mucky. Or maybe I just got in trouble one too many times for getting dirty and making more laundry.
I remember a time when I was a teen and there was a summer rain storm. I was over at my best friend Brian’s house and there was a low spot of grass running between his house and the neighbors house. Normally you’d refer to this as a drainage ditch or water diverting area. But in the right conditions with the proper mindset, you’ve got yourself a water slide.
I don’t know how long the storm lasted or how long we played there. But we’d start at the back of the house and take a running dive, forward into the grass ditch, sliding on our bellies for 30 feet or so. Stand, laugh, run to the back of the house and repeat.
We were drenched, filthy, and grinning from ear to ear.
I simply can’t imagine doing it today. I remember the feeling of fun. But I have a hard time picturing the abandon that would be required to dive into the mud and just enjoy it. Abandoning all things I ‘know’ in favor of enjoying the moment.
If I were to make a point today, it would come from this. Knowledge is a double edged sword. Everything that we learn propels us forward to the next level in terms of knowing of how things work. But it also holds us back from the previous level of, well of, ‘Ignorance is bliss’. And it begins to break down the mystery. The more we know the less we can escape knowing. Knowledge is both powerful and a pair of shackles, all bound into one bite sized package.
I don’t know if there is a break even point. A point between where we we know too little and we know too much. I think I must have passed it years ago. I often wonder if that is the difference between childhood and adulthood. The crossover is so exciting and such a whirlwind that we don’t consider the cost of knowing more. In many ways it harkens back to the bible story of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You can’t know the cost of the knowledge until you have the knowledge. You can’t possible understand the impact of what you will know until you know it, and then you can’t decide to go back.
Or can you?
This to me, is one of the reasons why reincarnation works philosophically. This is one of my most pressing arguments to why I think reincarnation would be a valuable tool in growing a soul. If the purpose of our experience in this world it to cultivate an enlightened soul. That enlightenment would be frequently hampered by knowledge. Scriptures often highlight that our goal should be to become childlike. And one of the major attributes of childlike is unhindered by knowledge. So in this way the universe allows for a reset button so we can experience a simpler state once more.
I have noticed something else about the progression of knowledge, an abundance of knowledge introduces subtlety. Meaning that a little knowledge can cause one to think in black and white, but a great deal of knowledge moves things back to shades of gray. As you are first learning you come to believe that your new knowledge is paramount and infallible. But further experience shows you where it fails. And the more you learn and the more you experience you find that what you thought was truth was in fact only a facet. And in this way your knowledge softens and becomes organic.
This experience of knowledge growing and taking on a life of it’s own allows it to become subtle once more. And that subtlety then introduces wonder back into your life. And I believe that is the process of enlightenment.
And once you’ve learned everything there is to know. Once you’ve experienced all that can be experienced. And realized it is all part of this cosmic mystery that we both embrace and ignore every day, only then, do you really come back to the truest conclusion we can possibly hope for…
That it’s okay to just play in the mud.