Game versus Game
In amusement parks and theme resorts, we sometimes encounter small plays or concerts going on about us while we're walking around. Perhaps a mime is acting out a comical situation, keeping the children entranced as they swarm her. Maybe there's a guitarist, a trumpeter, or a guy operating a full percussion set who performs seemingly impossible feats of full orchestration. We stop and watch them play and perform. Each one of them has stepped out of a real life and into a role for a little while, a college student at a summer job, or a full-time acrobat who desperately needs work.
Then the daily Afternoon Parade comes storming by, or whatever it's called, with bands and floats and huge horses and gigantic puppets. The Parade itself is an act, of course, all of its participants also assuming roles for a moment, following rules for a little while, which will eventually be given up in favor of returning to full life, to "real reality." But at the moment everything is The Parade, sweeping down the street, drowning out all solitary musicians with its tremendous songs played by bands and over loudspeakers. Mimes and acting troupes scatter like birds before a running dog. The Parade, that seemingly irresistible force, pours down the street, a lava stream that simply cannot be halted. A big act has elbowed out the smaller ones.
Terrible natural disasters can happen to us here on earth. Just this year, unstoppable tsunamis from the ocean and floods caused by snow melt, rains, and rivers have caused havoc in countless parts of the world. Whether in gleaming cities of the wealthiest countries or among peasants scarcely scratching out a bit of life from the mud, flooding has been dramatic, interminable, and beyond our capacity to deflect it. Earthquakes from the Washington, America's capital, to the remotest parts of the Pacific Ocean or the Andean or Eurasian mountains, have ended lives and wrecked lifetimes. All our money and all our mighty machines stand helpless to change The Parade.
With the notorious end-of-the-world date from the Mayan calendar, we speculate about even greater disasters. I grew up on the flat lands scraped clear by the last Ice Age in North America, close to the readily visible lines of hills and boulders, the moraines, we called them, where the glaciers stopped their bulldozing effect on the land. With the record snowfalls last year, and the predictions of an even worse winter this year, I seem to hear echoes of The Parade advancing, across North America, Europe, Asia, maybe even South America.. Maybe that's what "2012" is about—the greatest disaster a tropical society like the Mayan people could imagine: Permanent Snow. Like so many other natural disasters, it would destroy great swaths of human civilization, including entire countries that I've visited, cities where I've lived, and the lands that provided for me and for my family and friends. It would sweep aside our little street performances and individual concerts. It would return a lot of animals, plants, and people to their real life of being great spiritual beings.
But even an ice age, or a supernova, or a hypervolcano, is just a Street Parade. Shamans might jump on a float for a quick ride, they might convert their street mime into a walking sideshow beside the great animals and noisy bands. Shamans respect nothing. Shamans have respect for everything. Shamans might add a sassy cymbal to the band; they might briefly distract one of the draft horses. But they know The Parade has its own power. Shamans love the big show, and the little shows, and the real lives and real life that underlie it all: Earth, Stars, Humanity, Animals, History, and Spirit.