A dry autumn wind rustles the leaves; I brood over my life, as if it were something apart from me. Here, some pages from my journal, from a melancholy time, from the season that reminds me seasons come and go:


I got it confused with people — being with them; wanting them to agree with me; wanting them to want me. I got love confused with all that.


This dark mood comes down like an angry hand on the table, like clothes thrown on the floor, like the half-remembered dream struggling up memory’s stairs and falling, struggling and falling.


C. writes to me about the difference between waiting and watching: “Waiting is expectant of something in particular and is often accompanied by disappointment. Watching is also expectant, but simply of what will happen next.”


I walked away from worldly power, intellectual showmanship, success on someone else’s terms. I walked away from a culture that asked me to deny myself. Yet how much of myself I still hide! It seems to be an act of survival, as necessary as breathing. I disguise my fear, my hurt, my anger, even my love.


Is flirting harmless? Or is it another way to disguise my woundedness? What do I want from women? What’s being exchanged when we exchange a glance?


J. writes to me of his “deep inner apology” for his existence.


The more honestly I face my own feelings — my sadness, boredom, disappointment — the less saddened, bored, disappointed I am by others. There’s no one to blame; I don’t need someone to save me.


God the Father: “If it’s OK with your Mother, it’s OK with me.”


There aren’t any formulas for happiness, or security. Yet I try to protect myself from life’s uncertainties by creating structures — “getting up early,” “relationship,” “work” — and identifying with them, thus turning the unknown into the known. How absurd. Whatever I “know” this way is dead to my touch.


“And love,” Neruda writes, “best not to talk of love, which moved, a swaying of hips, leaving no more trace of all its fire than a spoonful of ash.”


My deepest desire, my truest longing, is to be whole, to be joined with the rest of life. Yet how I disguise that longing from myself. Then I’m disguised, my wants suspect. My familiar loneliness is my true longing split from itself, so what’s longed for is concealed, and I imagine my loneliness is an end in itself, a conclusion about my life, a fact.


Leonard Cohen: “Shouldering your loneliness like a gun you will not learn to aim.”


Last night, I dreamt I was a prisoner of war, lying in bed at night in a hut in the jungle, listening to the crickets, yearning to be home. When I woke up, sweaty and shaken, I lay motionless, listening to the crickets, unsure at first if I was at home, dreaming, or dreaming I was home.


There is love and kinship between souls, it’s said, that bring them together, again and again, in different lifetimes, for different reasons, in different roles. Believing this, why do I still blame them? For the roles they played? For the masks they wore? For being the perfect victims of their own worst fears, and I their perfect son?


The Aztecs would sacrifice fifty thousand men in four days to inaugurate a new temple. Four priests would hold the men down; a fifth would cut open his chest and tear out his still-throbbing heart.


Sitting by the woodstove, I think of the brief span of winters I’ll spend this way, and of the little fire of my life in the midst of the greater darkness. Will it warm the hearts of those I’ve loved after I’m gone? And when they’re gone, what then? What lives? Who dies?


Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”


The loneliness eased: pressing my pen to the page; my body to hers.


I see the tree, not the roots. I see “myself,” not my connections with others, the thoughts and feelings that reach out and join; the tangled, inseparable life we are.

— Sy