Updated: Apr 8
March 23, 2021
Some mornings it takes me an hour or two to remember a good thing, or remember with pleasure a project, some writing, or notice the light outside is beautiful. It is harder without that light. Winter wants to kill me, wants to make me believe there will be no spring this year. That I’ve had my share of springs, my share of love. Who would want this old body? Where do I begin? Because I have to consciously begin each day. I did not feel this in my youth; each day was already up and running when I woke. I merely stepped into it.
The pandemic has been dreary. I’ve become too good at being alone. When I’m with others I seem to not know what to do, what to say. I’m always afraid I’ll blurt out all my misery. As if anyone else could help.
I have memorized all the right things to do, all I’ve gleaned from the good-hearted shrinks. The proper response to suffering is silence. They sit there while I say the same things over and over again knowing that sooner or later I’ll see the futility and stop. And they often provide brilliant insights. Is that a kind of cure? Possibly. What they do is listen, with respect, with commitment. I don’t burden my friends with this. But they can see it in my face. I don’t give off the glow of joie de vivre. I must not be a lot of fun to be around.
My body is so full of injuries I have to be careful when I exercise. I can only do certain things. I can’t walk like I used to, like when I once walked from the East Village all the way to Harlem and did not hurt after. I did it with joy, even arrogance. Hubris. Hubris is punished with age. Three years ago I participated in the Women’s March in New York and walked the whole way. I was fine after a couple of Tylenol, but it’s getting harder.
I see this in people I know. I’ll not see them for two years and when I do I see that the two years have not been good to them. One can fall a long way in two years. I’ve seen people go white and listless in that time.
What do I have left? Longing? Yes, I still have that. For the love that finally did not come to be. They say this longing is finally for God. Who is he? Last time I read the OT he was a spiteful, mean God, a bad parent who crushes you when you become too intelligent, too powerful in yourself. God scattered the people of Babel, destroyed the unity of their language and sent them stumbling into their various alienations. All because of a tower. Did God actually believe they’d reach heaven and take over?
Buddhist emptiness has become more comforting. I give up my glibness, my received ideas, my assumptions, my opinions, my neuroses, my dreams. I cannot give up love or longing. Those still fill me. I know now Buddhism is not about serenity, not about transcendence, not about any kind of spiritual reward. It is about being where I am however I am. Being.