“Where are you these days, Jenny?” is a question that King Arthur asked Guinevere when she was torn between her love for the king and her infatuation with Lancelot, his best friend and a knight of The Round Table, in the captivating story of Camelot. The film rocked the youth years of the baby boomers. We, the generation of the shining sixties, so filled with song and dance and rhythms and tales that seem to have vanished in the wind.
Still, when I hear the songs of Camelot and of Mario Lanza from yet another landmark movie in those days, The Student Prince, I am transported back to an age of romance and of lightness and passion that seems so unreal now in an environment dominated by the men of burning ambition. The men of devouring reason and singular objectives. In yet another memorable old film, Man of La Mancha, songs were sung to inspire impossible dreams, to reach for unreachable stars, to follow pure and chaste from afar and to right the unrightable wrong. Are we perhaps longing for that era, that mindset with some modicum of indifference to what became our holy grails in the age of illusion? Are we searching for the flower children and the hippies and the gypsies of wild abandon, free from logic and the many restraints of reason? Are we watching as the beauty in being is diminishing in the search lights of enduring ‘doing’? Are we witnessing a reality of harshness with hardly any room for the passion of the Foolish Romantics of an era forever buried in the sands of time?
The lyrics of the lovers seem to have dissolved in raging seas of ambition and of strife in the arena of accumulation in the winner takes all scenario in a time of amplified purpose, rationally defined. As the years go by, each generation is robbed from something, some ingredient or quality that is relegated to memory of fewer and fewer people in the large scale surrender to the incessant draconian demands of a time where might is right and rampant, and greed amplified. So, without even knowing, we are captivated by technology and enslaved by goals in line with the empires we perceive to be had, so remote from the songs of Heidelberg in The Student Prince and of Camelot in those distant dreamlands of the lovers and the knights. We are propelled into a reality of miracles explained and magic diluted. On stage in a drama so rigid and predictable, so mind over matter with hearts astray, that little room remains for feeling and for those remnants of craziness for saving us from the sane and the sound.
We are the witnesses or the actors in an unfolding drama where knighthood and round tables, nostalgia and legends have vanished in the mists. We live in a world demanding different night time stories for our children, where motivation is the flavor of the day and the creed in existence. The measure of success is related to the establishing of the captains and the kings to, ironically, glorify the grandeur of the inevitable existance of the high and the mighty. We have broken into the prisons of an insatiable ego, lured by the literally shining, and we rush along in crowds to destinies defined. Until we are bold enough to ask ourselves a simple question: “Where am I these days?” Rather than “Where do I need to go?”
Which of the things I have assembled, do I truly need? Are there people in close proximity even, that could have used some of the stuff that I have not touched for a year? When last did I tell myself to walk in slow motion for the sake of being lost in the detail? To listen attentively for the sake of understanding, not only hearing? When last did I take the time needed to really revel in the tastes of a thousand things? To passionately celebrate the song of all the senses? To stand dead still and contemplate the Amazing Embrace that Oneness so astoundingly introduces in stillness, and where vulnerability is experienced as the common denominator of we, the dying?
All these astounding things that living present to us, and a thousand more still to discover, have never left us. But we have gone on a trip. A journey far away to where we believe happiness hides. But on the way there we got distracted and ensnared by money and might, stuff and status. In this state of unconsciousness, we fall victim to the merchants of the promised lands. Diligently, filled with expectation, we follow images of grandeur, mirages in the desert, just like the rats followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The one question nobody seems to dare to ask, and yet the most obvious one is: which of all these things I have and I desire, can I take with when the bell tolls? What part of my empire shall endure in even the next century? Who will remember me in a 100 years from now? What will remain of my position in society? How dispensable am I, even in the smaller scheme of things?
Of course we talk about time as fleeting. Of course we notice the marks of the years. Of course we stand at open graves. But far too little to impress upon us the futility of our actions and the foolishness of our endeavors. If so, the world we know might not have been as advanced as it is, but ambition would have been diluted and responsibility too and the illusion would have dawned on us. Expectation would have been unmasked as a trap and divisions as a state of the ego and legacies futile. Reflection, more often, on this salient inescapable truth and the fragile temporary nature of existence, might have brought us closer to our senses in discerning a race towards nothingness in a nowhere land. Not towards emptiness of preference in a paradise of consciousness.
Maybe a simple question randomly asked in the course of a day might well bring us back to where the legends were born in the first place. To where the wizards are. To where the music originates. To where the heart belongs. To where the ego dies in the final realization that our sojourn of the seconds marginalises all our monuments and destroys our legacies–to set us free at last. Few truer words were spoken than time being the great equalizer. Few questions are more relevant and more disturbing perhaps as: where am I these days?