The day with its big arms around me, whispering in my ear.
On an absurdly busy afternoon, I make a “telephone appointment” to call back P. at 7 o’clock, so we’ll have time to talk. But at 5 o’clock, I realize I won’t be home at 7, so I call to change our appointment; we talk about when there will be time to talk.
Waiting for Sara at the dentist, I’m restless, impatient, checking my watch every few minutes. I need to remember there’s no “wasted” time, only time I choose to waste by not paying attention, by not making every moment an opportunity to be more present. Washing dishes, driving my children somewhere, listening to boring conversation: if only I could be more attentive in such circumstances, I would see differently, hear differently, come out from under the bewitching spell that there’s something “more important” I’m being kept from.
Morning in front of me, naked and willing. Morning, that tease.
New Year’s resolutions always seem forced, arising not from some deep need to change but from a wish to be “different,” “better.” Crooning my good intentions, I seem merely to be flirting with myself.
How then to wake up? Sunlight doesn’t batter down the door. It slips through slatted shades; it creeps along the floor.
Three days ago, I dreamt about C. Today, I got a note from her, written three days ago.
What’s more amazing — reminders such as this, or my amazing forgetfulness about the ways we’re all joined?
How odd to dream about D. after all these years. I wonder if I should call him. Maybe the dream was the call.
Lorenzo writes: “My newest hero, Aghora, says that we have it all backward. He says we laugh when the babies are born, and cry at funerals. He says, ‘Birth is to be feared, because when you are born you forget all about what you did in your past lives and you go out and ruin yourself. But death is release from your physical shackles.’ Therefore, he says, we should cry at the birth of babies and laugh when someone dies.”
To be reborn as a dictionary. To be of real use. To serve, unfailingly, with the right word, the right spelling, day or night, in all kinds of weather: a friend.
How to fathom the joy in the simplest things? This morning, peeing, I looked out the window at the rain hitting the deck, the dark wood wet, glistening.
To love life, not just my life, and not just sunny weather. Just as there’s a difference between being in love with someone and really loving that person, there’s a difference between being in love with life and really loving life, absolutely, no matter what it brings.
Norma says that when I take a shower in the morning, she lies in bed, half asleep, pretending it’s raining. She loves the rain.
I read that W.C. Fields loved the rain, too, because it conveyed to him a sense of mankind’s insignificance. He would leave his house during a sudden downpour and stand in the rain, bareheaded and serene.
Making love. Restless souls rising. Bodies the ash that’s left.
Alberto Konigsberg writes: “The person must be willing to bear even pain in order to feel fully alive. Obviously, the ego regards anything that is threatening to it as painful. The difference between a neurotic and a saint is that the neurotic would consider the saint’s ecstasy unbearable.”
Oh sorrow, again you leave me. You stay away. My heart grows weary waiting for you, then doesn’t care. Where did you go? I fumble in my pocket for a key to this door. When you were with me nothing stood in my way.
Calling to her from across the room; from across the bed; from across this separateness, this film of sweat.
How to be truthful about my own life? Not the truth about someone else; not the news, that scaffold from which I used to swing daily, the world a noose around my neck. No, a real life — mine, unmistakably personal, the irreducible essence of me, a story that makes sense.
On the one hand, the only truth I know is my truth, my lived experience. On the other hand, every sentence that begins with “I” is partial, a lie.
Joseph Campbell says that true poetry comes only from the poet, poetry overdone comes from the prophet, and poetry done to death comes from the priest.
Learning not to surrender my precious complexity at the altar of the sublime.
No matter how honest I try to be, the truth is distorted. If I express my uncertainty, I seem more uncertain than I really am. If I write fluidly, I seem more articulate. If I put down sentences that are simple and unadorned, perhaps the reader thinks I see things that way. What a joke! I struggle to be sincere, and the very struggle makes of my sincerity something different, something false.
I develop a relationship to a belief just as I do to a person — romanticizing it, distorting it. Just as I confuse my neediness with love, so do I confuse my beliefs with truth.
Circling myself in a sweeping arc, like a bird unsure where to land.
Why not love my writing? Is that arrogance? Or is my careful modesty, my gospel of disparagement, the real arrogance? The words express, if imperfectly, my deepest longing: to feel whole, to be joined. What a tender and enduring impulse! How do I honor it? Not by pretending it’s less than it is.
The sad story I told the mirror.
Don’t lie to me, the mirror said.
Unattributed: “Original thought is alive and well, and living promiscuously in everyone.”
Perhaps it’s better not to be truthful but to simply be myself. To be truthful is to take up a position in the mind, to be for something; to struggle always for a higher vantage point, for clarity, for compassion; to shake off the mind’s judgments as if they were angry gnats. Go away! I’m being truthful!
In the middle of the night, I wanted to see further: past these solemn thoughts, grief’s dark arms around me, its kiss, kiss, kiss.