Please enjoy a piece I wrote published today on Rebelle Society.
My mother is dying. And in just her way…(read the rest here).
What shall I do when my skin pickles and my mind dries splintered?
I won’t stare into dirty window panes.
What shall I do when my eyeballs glitch shudder open-shut, right to left?
I won’t run, slaughter, spin out, or crash in stupor-ful grim.
Where shall I go when cars slam openings cabin space so tight it pierces skin?
To nowhere regret drives home.
How shall I survive the sandwiched time of somatic stares and twitching sleep–
unparalleled movement unceasingly on?
By leaving love notes in your lunch box and writing letters home.
Why do we contrive without power un-surrendering ourselves to the perpetual?
We won’t let the wheel go, let the world spin a’wheel.
Which is in? Which is out?
When will the uncleaved door bend, ope-crack and whistle in the sizzling windy train of space,
belly breathe hoary air eons long, trellised and clinging to cilial body, shivering sensoranticipatorily?
Right on. My gut reacted that way to these adorned, bordered words on my morning Facebook scroll. At second blush, however, this sounded grumpy. It’s the “leave me alone” part. A command that demands aloneness inevitably appears angry, sad, just a bad decision. I mean, who besides me would want to be alone? Well, many more might be better off if they were. They might not only be okay with it, but crave it after a while.
The world is always too much with us whether we live in the bush on the African plains or in New York city’s heart. We toil. We care. We think about how, what or if we feel from the moment our eyes open upon awakening to their closing in sleep.
We think of doing. We do. Our minds embalm themselves in constant “voice,” mostly noise. Our sensations form perceptions and the senses are always on, no matter how much we try to shut them down, tune them out or mute them with volume reducers (drugs, alcohol, love, food…).
We are lost in a thrumming hum of sensate being. How can we ever be alone? There is no alone, no solitude, except for sleep or death, and those only by outside appearance. Who knows who or what accompanies us in either? Our minds are constantly populated with people, thoughts, memories and plans with, about or in avoidance of those we carry.
We are never alone.
No wonder we’re tired.
So the demand to be alone is necessary. It seems nearly impossible to accomplish without intolerably long, hard dedication to removing thoughts–all of them–in practiced meditation.
And those–people or thoughts–with bad intentions whether direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious, it’s all too much. Each of us is on overload merely in the pace of one moment to the next–the bombardment of living with others, even among nature only. Nature is not benevolent. It too harbors malignancies, intended or not.
But those who move bent on destruction (think of the fearful-angry vibrations they emit and hit us with like sonar) overburden us beyond our sitting, resting, active capacities and raise our hackles, elevating our hormones with alarm bells. We, poised in self-preservation, fight or flight, consume and are consumed by nothing but the bad intent, defense in crush or aggression, certainly guardedness. Where does that lead?
Not to equanimity, nor to conditions amenable to hearing the silence, being with solitude, clearing the mind. We become filled with the chatter-ful greed, jealousy, deceit, mischief or envy of another. We endure gossip, lies and other violence. Our skin tingles and tightens with breath, tremor and howl.
We may suffer with our lives momentarily or forever.
It is not an unreasonable request–to hold out a stiff, unbending arm that impedes the onslaught of another–whether that takes the form of someone bumping into us, screaming hate or fear at our eyes, or onrushing our bodies to steal or otherwise injure.
We can act. We can will it, say it: “Leave. Don’t come near. Let me remove you from my mind. I can do it with or without your consent.”
In the end, it–all of it–is in our heads. Nothing. Everything.
So, usher in aloneness. Yes. I’m willing.
No one looks through the window with my eyes; no one sees my vision nor thinks my thought. Banal but true, each of us is uniquely combined.
My grip on daily do’s is looser or tighter than others’ but my hands are singularly mine. Touch sense cannot be duplicated–just exactly mine, touching you or you, me.
I am me, the way I shave, for instance–some parts meticulously, rather obsessively like lower legs and big toe knuckle, pits and “v” of the sparsely endowed V.
Everywhere else, I pay no mind, just like brows, a sometimes clearing, or second toes but never my thighs or head, the latter which has grown with abandon for 15 years or more.
My hair curls more on the left than on the right, and I walk straighter if my hair is parted on the left, my face aligned with a hidden equilibrium too far from even inner sight.
Or the way I write for me and you, unconsciously and consciously, using the words historically poured into me, picked at and ingested, belly caressed and gut tossed.
My marks, my dots and tees, my birth, tragedies and strung notions like beads on a broken string these days, cannot deliver you, not even reach you mostly.
Busy peering through windows with your own eyes blue-green-brown just so, retinal glow reversed like everyone and no one else projecting images archetypal yet speckled new.
No glory gained or praise due for the aggregation I am, you are; simply being the being hatched in space-time warrants no celebration in the just-is-ness of all seers.
Understanding is a process of contemplating and confronting mysteries. It’s like we have two selves, the observant and the enlightened. One ingests with absorption while the other processes by simmering. Their timing is not always the same. Sometimes understanding arrives much later than input data. But it is our pricking drive of curiosity and our slow-cooking insight that comprises learning–and living.
Frank Conroy, writer and musician, says in his essay entitled “Think About It,” that “Education doesn’t end until life ends, because you never know when you’re going to understand something you hadn’t understood before.” This elasticity of understanding, the distance between input and processing, is the expanse of the canvas of our lives, covers the whole painting. Conroy so aptly puts it, “The physical body exists in a constant state of tension as it maintains homeostasis, and so too does the active mind embrace the tension of never being certain, never being absolutely sure, never being done, as it engages the world. That is our special fate, our inexpressibly valuable condition.”
We doubt. We feel insecure in ignorance–some of us–and so we look for answers. Sometimes we find them in our immediate search, like when I ask my students to Google a word, ‘avuncular’, for instance, when that word turns up in their reading. Other times, we don’t find the answer or solution until much later–or never.
I remember one ex-client explaining his divorce. Of his wife of 30 years, he said, “I did not hear what she said–or I did not understand her words.” He told me his wife complained that he didn’t work hard for the family, which baffled him since he was putting in 12-hour days and weekends, socking away retirement and college money. He could not understand how that was not working for his family–until he did. “Now I know she wanted me to look at her, to work hard at being there for her and our boys each day by spending time and focus on them, not my work,” he confessed. He shuttered out simple words spoken to him before his experience allowed him to “see”.
That lag time between learning and understanding is the human condition. Some would even say that inside that gap–between ingestion and digestion–is rubbery, elastic life itself. Maybe.
They shake out doings done and yet to come like San Andreas’ fault, not a fault.
Did we quake? My shoulders shuddered like a surge, a heart murmur or eruption.
No, the inner mechanics of rebellion taking a stand on all things ingest just arose.
When the ear throbbing starts, I know I’m lost to it, going into floated notice din.
My heartbeat declares so loudly inside my ears in its under water muffle-areum.
I doubt creation’s pen then, my mouth moving silently, my hands ripping at keys.
Keyboard fingers fly like the cocaine toad hopping brain’s clicking away at strings.
There’s this word association that bleeds writing, a lapse, slide gurgle into them:
Strung words, the meaning of which is not revealed until they mix and sit together.
They settle in a rhythm and slur, brushed water tinted smears blotting tilted space.
Poetry and being entwine thus: letter, scene, wish, guess all overlaid in blindness.
Squeezed juice, the nothing of matter becomes me-you, and we polish air’s shine.
knuckles to knee, soft palm up,
elbows east and west to the sea,
or thumbs poised right angle to
index, cupping the joint round.
Lotus springs from the dead
but loving breath warms limb,
left foot rising over right over
left again, balance in the being
synced forth in a becoming to
the rhythmic beam’s third eye.
Hold hands, heart with mind,
hear the calm of 10,000 years
in lungfuls of uncharted time.
Achunal the aleuts call it. Israelis say רוּחַ.
In Spain, they curse el viento tearing at hats and dresses
but matacabras, goat killer, infuriates the shepherd
while angin or lilit in Malay mystifies most outsiders:
Are there distinct names for degree, duration or character?
Like a picnic zephyr delights an English gent or ahe a Hawaiian.
Puhe denotes the ordinary, common or imperceptible island condition.
When apples fly forcefully, a Russian complains of ветреный ветер.
What is the word for the puff left leafing pages in a book?
The sea brings Kadja in Bali sweeping aside sand softly
like a cat’s paw over the pond in the back bay.
But no, I’d never be caught dead in a Cock-Eyed-Bob down under.
Not while the night coromell caresses California’s toes this time of year
past Diablo and the doldrums thrumming silence into an ear
merely at the thought of a place where nothing tossles hair, moves air
carries a wink and knowing stare caught glimpsing a drifting folded paper:
unraveled, it reveals your name, wordless moan escaping a window.
What is the name of your child, Shu?