After graduation, after a divorce, after an election
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Judaism is very concerned with the natural rhythms of things . . . like crying children, and the pulse of family life. It insists on family life, and is very cautious of the ascetic or celibate life — which may be an important route, but it’s not real.
Now leo says that of course we will get together again. He calls me on the telephone from seven-eleven parking lots long-distance and says that he loves me and he sends me a hundred dollars a month to keep his name on the mailbox, he in fact spends great parts of his poet-in-the-schools money to drive from galveston to dallas for weekends of love-making and whispered reassurances and barbequed chicken crowded around the little kitchen table with me and the three kids like he is simply a commuting husband and this family is really his.
We try to curtail “helper’s disease” as best we can. It seems to be rampant in our society: there’s a problem out there, I must do something about it, I have to go help. We’re not necessarily motivated by the best intentions. Sometimes we act out of our fear or guilt instead of a real desire to serve.
The first time I saw Rufus was in 1967 when she was just a puppy. She was actually just a dark waggle on the end of a leash in the hands of my friend Jerry. He and his new girlfriend, Dolores, were walking Rufus, their new pal, around the quad at Wake Forest. I don’t remember how they acquired Rufus but it had something to do with getting stoned.
The first noise was hardly audible, like the whimper of a child so hurt that the wounds had to speak, a primal crying that went far deeper than language. The hurt had lost all anger and selfishness; it spoke only of its existence, incapable of any control, gurgling its rawness.
Sammy Davis, Jr. says: “All men are created bland.” And I would add: “But they can, and usually do, get even blander.” Case in point (never thought I’d see the day): Me. At the end of my second year in California, I watch with fascinated horror as I become nicer and nicer, more polite, more congenial, more well-adjusted.
What we’ve really come to see is that healing is not limited to the body. The body may live or die, but the healing we took birth for occurs in the heart; if that quality of heart is not there, no matter what happens to the body, healing is absent.
When I noticed courses on Eastern religion being offered around town by Jehangir Chubb, a retired professor of philosophy from the University of Bombay in India, I was intrigued. Was he another dry intellectual or a genuine teacher, with something to say to us all?
They had to wait a long time for the harvest to begin. Gerard talked to Kate of nothing else for weeks. He imagined the two of them working their way across Canada, then down the West Coast of the U.S., picking fruit and living like gypsies.
Robert Bly takes us down to the valley, and gets down with us in the dirt, and shows us this is where it starts —here in flesh, here in grief, here in memories we deny. His arms wave like big branches, as he tells us to face the dark in ourselves. His language runs like water over the dry bed, whether he’s talking about what it means to be a man or a woman, or acknowledging the pain of childhood, or warning against the siren call of Eastern mysticism. Full of eloquence and extraordinary energy, Bly is one of the most respected and widely read poets of the age, as fully human as anyone I’ve met.