Where Was I?
October 5, 2015 § 20 Comments
Perhaps it was the busy, busy schedule of tasks, spooling off into infinity.
But no, that wasn’t it.
Perhaps it was the way that the turbulence of my mind kept spinning yarns of my own unworthiness.
No, not the problem. Not really.
Maybe it wasn’t me at all. It was all the others, the ones who let me down, who failed to give me what I deserved and desired. Their fault.
Seriously? That decrepit excuse again.
So what happened to me? Where did I go?
Not me, not them, not it.
The problem all along is the very idea of “problem.”
Here or there. Strong or weak. Loved or unloved.
What is the problem?
Resistance and struggle. The hopeless desire to somehow be- or to have been- something else, somewhere else, someone else.
Release yourself from the struggle.
And when you can’t, let that go too.
I am here, now. That’s all.
December 3, 2014 § 3 Comments
Precision, the right way.
A slip and it’s ruined.
Why can’t they see?
Whistling water, only for the warming, never for the steeping.
Line them up. Kettle, pot, cup.
Each thing to its function born.
An ordered life.
In equilibrial ruin.
November 1, 2014 § 3 Comments
Like clattering little children,
Seeking my attention.
Grab and take.
My so-called enemies.
Whining hovering bugs,
Endlessly tagging along.
Remember- don’t care what they think,
Else they’ll have you by the balls.
Handy mantra, don’t you think?
Like the elephant swatting away the fly.
Who’s the big shot in that parable?
Then I see Him.
Scattering the noisy ones.
They carry torches and pitchforks,
He’s got the blade.
Edged beyond sharp.
Not coming to seize what’s mine.
Or to heap me over with foul insult.
He’ll leave that to the suckerfish.
Slick words fall away.
Resolve all shadow and mist.
Cutting me just enough for the others to feed.
Taking his host just to the edge, never quite over.
Isn’t that the way?
My well spent youth in front of that magic box.
Hour upon hour of shuffling mummies, modeling my way.
So demons never show themselves in the mirror, I know.
But why is He there?
The virus beyond the scientist’s ken,
The monster always under the bed,
The beast that will stop swimming only at time’s end.
The enemy I could not hold any closer.
October 31, 2014 § 4 Comments
Sipping tea at the table,
Safe here, warm too.
Stormy damp out there,
Something in those black shadows.
My homeful existence.
God is great, good too.
Take a peek, he says,
Gulp the tea, slide the door.
Feel the fertile maelstrom,
Wind and wet leaves.
Looking back into the hollow lit up box,
Table, mug, silence, light.
Always walled in, or walled out.
If I am here,
He is there.
Slide the door,
Safe from sound.
Have some tea, he says.
It’s merely ruined,
February 2, 2014 § 29 Comments
Ever tried. Ever failed.
Try Again. Fail again.
Some writing comes easy, especially the exposition of the critical- the writing that comes from the head. But what is the worth?
Most writing now painful and difficult. Hours spent at the computer staring at the screen without a single keystroke. And so many passages, fragile and aborning, killed off with a slashing delete.
You seek to capture a feeling or a thought that it true and important, or you inhabit a world of your imagination, and then you take that precious and evanescent wisp and try to reify it in the form of words.
But it all falls apart like a clump of moist sand coming undone in your hands. You reach down and try to gather the sand but it’s now scattered across an endless beach. And so you go back, seeking again that place where the feeling lived but you stagger through a maze of spaces, lost.
And so you begin again.
The exquisitely painful work beckons, as irresistible as it is impossible.
Words piled on words. A lifetime of writing.
Yearning only to fail better.
The Posture of Pain
July 19, 2013 § 14 Comments
As I recall and ponder the dark moments in my life, I can see that although each one was uniquely poisonous, one thing ran through them, one constant tying them all together. In each such moment, whatever the particular form of my darkness, I was always either looking backward or forward in time.
In those dark moments of self-loathing, I needed to look backward, seeing in the wake of my life the countless failures and missed opportunities. Similarly, to feel real anxiety or deep fear, I had to conjure what was ahead and imagine just how unprepared and unworthy I would be.
The appraising gaze back and forth along time’s arrow. The posture of pain.
And so I understand. Stay here, right here, in this present moment.
So simple, and yet such a struggle.
The First Stone
July 17, 2013 § 25 Comments
The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.
Tao te Ching
I spent much of my life in rage at the unredeemed world. And I tried in countless ways to control those around me, to shape their lives and choices. I could not simply accept things as they were. I could not accept that others needed to choose for themselves.
But the world spun on. And those I cared about made choices that sometimes came crashing in on them. I failed, I thought. Failed to bring forth meaningful change. Failed to protect my family and those I loved.
To accept things as they are sounds weak and passive. Giving up without a fight.
But acceptance is the simple recognition that you cannot control others and you cannot control what will come. This recognition frees us to focus all our will and all our energy, all of our being, on the one thing that truly belongs to us. Ourselves.
And with that focus you become strength embodied. You exist and move through the world with the boundless power of presence. You reside at the center of the circle.
Acceptance is the first stone on our path.
July 16, 2013 § 20 Comments
I have often disappeared from this writing, only to resurface a week, or even a month, later with a story about my unsteadiness, or my trance-like existence, my failure to live the truths I know. I accept the kind words of those who stuck with me. And I resume my writing.
But I now understand that those stories have a mythological quality. It just isn’t true that all that time when I wasn’t here I was adrift and emotionally absent. I spent a good portion of those times with family and friends, reading, swimming, traveling, just sitting and being. Times of struggle, times of absence from those I love, sure, but also times of presence and joy.
So why do I create these mythologies? Why do I feel the need to distort the past in this way?
These stories, I now understand, serve a purpose. They become a way of expressing a lacerating self-judgment, the vehicle for a profession of my unworthiness. A way of expiating some pointless guilt I have about not writing.
I need to be here when it feels right and to be elsewhere when that feels right. I need to be as consistently present for others as I can be. But as I move from here to there and back, and as I falter inevitably in my effort to be present consistently in the lives of those I care about, I must lose the idea that this movement and this faltering are somehow a badge of my unworthiness.
This bad history- and its judgmental baggage- have got to go.
Breaking the Trance
July 9, 2013 § 32 Comments
If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
Tao te Ching
I have spent myself in the pursuit of perfection. Trying to think my way to the perfect choice, trying to maneuver myself to the perfect outcome. And beating myself up when I inevitably fall short.
And so because I cannot find the perfect words, I disappear from my writing. Because I cannot construct the perfect relationship, I disappear from those around me- until all that’s left is my solitary sense of inadequacy.
I say, “I’ve been away.” But I’m not away, literally. I’m here- and not here. Like so many people, I often exist in a trance- speaking, acting, doing and yet absent.
Right now, I feel myself drawing strength from the certain knowledge that my life begins again in each moment. Each moment I can choose. I can return to myself. Be present and strong.
Moment by moment. Again and again.
When the Storms Come
May 2, 2013 § 37 Comments
The storms have come.
The waters rise in the wetlands surrounding my home here- dark pools amidst the tall pines. The drenching rain, cascading off the metal roof, creates waterfalls just outside the windows. You can feel in your bones the resonance of the rumbling thunder.
When that echoing thunder subsides, I go to the sea. Beneath the angry sky, the ocean is a roiling and foamy cauldron.
Some of these dark and stormy days I stand on the beach and scan the long arc of shoreline in each direction. Not another soul, for miles and miles.
I love the sun, the feel of it on my skin, the magic it creates shimmering across the water. But this gray and forbidding time, I love this as well.
Perhaps I sense that nature is showing me her turbulence and disorder, screaming her existence, and in that way, mirroring my own inner turmoil, offering her stormy kinship.
Or perhaps it is just the feel of that cold, sharp wind on my face and the freight train roar of the sea when it’s up and charging. I think, who could stand on this beach right now and not feel alive?
The sun will return, the sea will fall back into its rhythm. She will whisper again the message that helps me keep my footing. I will feel her strong but gentle pull, righting me to my center.
But when the storms come again, when her voice rises in that insistent roar, I will also feel nature’s message. Live, she demands. Live right here, right now. Live this one life you have been given.
Feel inside the scream of existence that I model for you.
When the storms come again.