28 February 2009

More Thoughts Of A Sleepless Night

As I write this, I have just gotten back from my daily walk, in fact I am still breathing heavily. A strange walk today. The naam-jap just refused to come, so I turned on my wrist radio - and the earbuds kept falling out of my ears. Then I stumbled over the body of a dead crow. (Death is easier than life.) I started remembering last night and a brilliant thought came to my mind: Why not a post for the Khaliblog?

So here you are.

Another sleepless night. Nothing worked. I tried muscle relaxation, I tried soothing music, I tried warm milk. I could have taken an Ambien, but I hate intoxicants, so I laid in my bed and thought about the day.

A friend had suggested to me that I'd drive anyone not into heavy-duty Khalsa-ing crazy. Really, though, off-line I do have a fairly normal life where I rarely talk about Sikh stuff. After all, Sikhi is something to do, not really something to talk about. Sikhi is a verb.

So what is being a 24/7 Sikh (is there any other kind?) all about. To begin with, it starts with what seems to be two polar opposites, the saint and the soldier, the sant-sipahi thing, closely related to the miri-piri thing. The sant-sipahi seems to have an almost Taoist flavour to it. "The good soldier is not violent. The best soldier acts without anger." No anger, no hatred. To unite the sant and the sipahi is incredibly difficult.

And it doesn't stop there. There is a third element. We are supposed to do this while living a normal life!. No monastery, no convent, no escape from the world for the Sikh. Instead pray, earn an honest living, give to charity, all while attempting to be that sant-sipahi thing. I wonder if anyone - aside from our Guru Jis, of course - have ever succeeded at this. I wonder what success in this for an ordinary Sikh, an ordinary Khalsa would look like. Well, we are supposed to do our best.

At this point, restless, I get up and walk around the house a bit. The pain in my knee only wakes me up further. I sit in the freezing cold living room and turn on the radio to "random tuning." Guru ji uses the voice of The Eagles to ask me, "If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, would you still be mine?"

And I think that being a Sikh means not just taking my life to the limit, but then, living in the limit, metaphorically, at least. (You engineers reading this know what I'm talking about.)

Then I hear Stephan Stills off the Four-Way Street Album (1970). "But if we can't do it with a smile on our face, if we can't do it with love in our heart, then children, we ain't got no right to do it at all. That just means we ain't learned nothing yet. We're supposed to be some sort of different. Dig it! Dig it!"

And when you're looking for your freedom
(Nobody seems to care)
And you can't find the door
(Can't find it anywhere)
When there's nothing to believe in
Still you're coming back, you're running back
You're coming back for more

So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time

Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time

All pictures from Charles Meacham's series, Being Sikh. If you would like to see more - and I hope you do - go to his website, Charles Meacham Photographs, click on 'Galleries,' and go to 'Being Sikh.'