If you've ever listened to Neil speak (online, in person, wherever), you know just what I'm talking about. The man is an artist in virtually every medium I can conceive of but what I think I like best about Neil is that he is so very, very human. When he speaks about people, about the world, about life and learning and art and being oneself, there seems to me to be a great, churning undercurrent beneath his words. And it isn't a wild thing. It isn't overwhelming or torrential or forceful. But it's vast! Vast and deep and brimming.
He's created this 12 month project that involves feedback from everyday people. People share their thoughts and he absorbs them, shapes them with his own words, and gives it all back. Here's a 1.5 minute video about it. It's the kind of thing you really want to hear from his own mouth.
I'm just going to disclose that I watched this and got teary. Not just because of the music and the beautiful filming or Neil's dogs tromping through the snow with him. I'm touched because under all of the words and music and images is that vast undercurrent Neil so often touches on.
I'm a heavy thinker. Often too heavy. And one of the things I think heavily on is humanity and God and where it fits together, when it fits together, how it will fit together. I muse on what things make us human and what connects us and what remains when body and spirit are no longer connected. I think so often on life experiences: good, bad, tragic, furious, joy-bursting. And many times I ask myself what it is we're learning here on this great, fat planet.
Sometimes, this place sucks. There are times I think I'd most certainly rather be somewhere else. But...it doesn't suck. Not really. Sucky things happen, perhaps more than non-sucky things happen, but something amazing happens here too.
I treasure this place. I treasure the incongruity and the mess. I love the discordance and brief glimpses of symmetry. I revel in the interconnectivity because at the end of the day, we're all together in this. I live in the western hemisphere and may never meet someone from the eastern hemisphere and yet we both exist in this messy old world. We both have pain and happiness and fear. We love. We fight. We live. Oh, we live. And the truth is, nothing can replace that. Nothing can take the place of these shared experiences and good or bad, we are having them together.
Like Neil says, so much of what a writer does is done alone. I sit here now, alone but for my sweet dog curled nearby, typing this by myself. In a moment, I'll push "publish" and my words will go places I cannot. A part of me will flow into that vast under-river and somewhere, something I am will brush up against something someone else is. And that is so beautiful to me. Beautiful to know that we are an imperfect wildness that for all our differences and ugliness and resplendence, we are doing this thing together.
In my heart, I think there will come a day when sense is made of this strange life we live. I cannot say how and I do not know when but I know deep in the marrow of me how grateful I am to the people living life. Here. Right now. With me. We're the only ones who can get it, who can understand what it is to be here. The person across the street and across the world is part of something that only we will ever have. In our deepest loneliness or our heightened bliss, we are each other. What a gift that is.