Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Therapeutic Disco

I think the insight in Cambridge was that no more insights are necessary. And yet, even that was an insight! And was duly celebrated as such, without irony.

Well, habits are hard to change, easily subsuming even our understanding that they need to change. For example, my half-assed meditation practice goes on studying itself, talking to itself, with me listening not as a student or novice but a teacher, boss of the novitiate, frequently interjecting. Have you thought of this? Tried that?

When will I learn to shut up? To stop assuming that everything in my skull means something that others need to hear? Or at least see that loving my own voice doesn't require constant public consummation?

Well, if you have to speak - if you believe that's what's asked of you - then say something that's hard to say. Say something you don't want to say, or in a way that you don't want to say it.

I learned how to live with physical pain at an early age, and part of that learning meant living with loneliness, often in settings that were scary. For example, I didn't like the snakes in the barn, or the barn itself when it was even a little dark or cold, but my mother didn't go in the barn so . . .

It pleases me to use holy books (the bible, ACIM) as coasters for my morning coffee. I never used Emily Dickinson that way. Her collected poems is so broken now that it's hard to read (like there are a limited number of readings left in it) and I can't afford to replace it. I get why that's okay (i.e., don't shun libraries or interlibrary loans or books that you have to share with folks you'll never actually meet - all of this is a form of love, one of our species' most impressive accomplishments), but still.

Anyway, L. wrote a public note yesterday asking men to stop making war and I got that strangled feeling in my throat that usually resolves by talking over everybody or arguing until everybody is too weary to argue back. But instead I stumbled through the night - walking up and down Main Street in light rain, reading Shogun in the upstairs rocker - and by morning saw clearly that mostly I was a) mad that I didn't say it first and get credit and b) hurt that L. doesn't know I agree with her.

And neither of those sorrows are healed by abusing my gift of eloquence in order to dominate a collective dialogue. I get that now.

Which does leave me not knowing how those sorrows are healed, but at least I didn't make anything worse, or hurt somebody who has better things to do than get sucked into my confused and confusing narrative about favorite sons, lost boys, unfaithful shepherds, et cetera.

It's good to be quiet and just take care of what needs to be taken care of, what is given to you to care for. Yesterday I made chili, today I'll bake bread. Sand the driveway, cut stray wood for birdhouses for spring, help Jeremiah figure out the next guitar . . .

I mean, it seems like it's not enough but what if it is enough? How will I know?

When I say that King David told me "living is inflorescence," I'm being hyperbolic. It's just a way of talking I dreamed up in one of my famous exaggerated night-long ritual communions with the many demons and angels who visit when I ask them to visit. What a therapeutic disco we make! It means simply that an Old Testament order feels presently clarifying. Love is what works.

Thus, this woman, this home, this writing, these chores.

Or: yes, Sean. It is enough.

You could imagine the Lord visiting - perhaps as the blue light before dawn, winter a widening billows softened by feeding the horses - and saying gently, "Sean, everybody wishes life were otherwise. What I ask of you now is to live in a way that demonstrates that wish is an error premised on an illusion. Oh, and you have to do without words."

But I think that last sentence - that final condition related to silence - is not given by Love but by that which would obscure love because it is jealous, greedy, guilty, angry. In a word, it is hurt. And however imperfectly, however slowly, however ineptly . . . I am healing.

I will not be hurt forever.

Having imagined the Lord directing me so, I go ahead and live. And living, remember the peace that is the all our shared foundation. And remembering the foundation, see where the balance is askew (in me and you, in the world) and how to right it effortlessly and naturally. And then write it.

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