Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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I left myself, drove all night without stopping, called myself from a phone booth to say I was sorry it had to be this way.
The bureaucrat denying the hungry, the homeless. The grown man denying the boy.
Perhaps, for the new year, I’ll vow to sleep later, to spend less time at my desk, to eat sugar now and then. Perhaps I’ll be kinder to the me who isn’t such a hero.
“I am convinced,” Thoreau wrote, “that to maintain one’s self on the earth is not a handicap but a pastime — if we live simply and wisely.” But Thoreau had no children. He lived alone at Walden Pond. He visited his mother once a week; she did his laundry.
Convinced that I’m a body, separate from other bodies. Convinced of my fear, which I unfold like a map. A Course In Miracles: “You really think you are alone unless another body is with you. It is insanity that thinks these things.”
It was a case of mistaken identity. It was the sadness of myself, in drag.
“In the Middle Ages,” someone writes in the LA Weekly, “there was a custom in which brigands would kidnap a child and break his bones, and then teach him to juggle, and then sell him as a jester to the king’s court. My mother did that to my mind.”
Abandonment fears are real, but I’m only really abandoned if I abandon myself.
She called to me from across her beauty. It stretched between us like a maze. I disappeared inside it, never to be seen again.
One of the characters in the film sex, lies, and videotape says he’s heard that “a woman is more and more attracted to a man she loves, while a man learns to love a woman he is attracted to.”
Not beautiful in my own eyes, I sought beauty in pin-up girls, in a pin-up life: the eroticism of accomplishment.
If I keep my desk neat, do I fool myself that life is neat — that the lessons I need to learn will arrive in orderly fashion, like a stack of memos?
My big plans for a short life; my endless, interminable ambition.
If I make N. into my salvation, how can I not resent her? She is a reminder of my weakness. Isn’t this how I murder love, kill off every possibility of real communion?
A diamond is forever, but the half-life of a half-lie lasts a long time, too.
Ken Kesey: “Always stay in your own movie.”
So weary of this loneliness, like a wrinkled old shirt I won’t wash and I won’t wear.
“I exalt passion and pretend it’s love,” I tell N. “Even worse, I trivialize love and pretend it’s passion.”
“Yes,” she says. “It’s easier to bear.”
Richard Nelson: “Love and longing, ever the twins.”
I gave to all the right causes. I changed the oil every three thousand miles and my underwear every day. I didn’t reprint without permission, or slander anyone in my dreams. When I kissed my wife, I thought of her alone.
The night answered the day, but it was the wrong answer.
Why this melancholy, this sadness I sign with N.’s name? My dependency on her is not only painful but ludicrous. I’m like a man waiting at the door for my chauffeur, refusing to move until he arrives, by turns impatient, angry, jealous. But I have no chauffeur.
This face I made, from the clay of failure and the heat of judgment, hardened into blame.
The suffering that comes with being human, with having a history. To transcend who I am is grace, but to live who I am is grace, too. Amazingly, when I feel my grief, I stop identifying with it, because I’m no longer denying it. A little more of my true self emerges, like the sun from behind a cloud.
Leighton Ford: “There is no detour to holiness. Jesus came to the resurrection through the cross, not around it.”
God as bodies, forever separate and entwined.
Robert Masters: “True lovers are, among other things, ecstatically linked, losing none of their integrity in even the most deliciously blissful encounters. Unlike the romantically inclined, they’re not a cult of two.”
Lonely with and without a wife. Happy with and without a reason.
I want to love myself as much as I love the sweep of her hair and the warmth of her smile. I want to love all of life, not just the name I give to my grasping. I want to love all the lives that sustain me, those whose shoulders I stand upon. I want to love my longing, my shrill insistence that I’m incomplete without another. I want to love myself the way a stubborn question loves certainty, loves it in spite of itself. I want to love myself the way the dark sky loves the moon, saying look at this, marvel at this, this is what the night is for.
The window separates inside from outside; what does the mind separate?
Gary Snyder: “The diamond-point mercy / Of this timeless rain.”
None of the headlines mentioned us. I listened to the news at 6 and again at 11, and as far as the world was concerned we didn’t exist. But she touched me.