Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Not love of another, with its many silhouettes,
but of your own self,
your body, your infinite mind and soul,
and your weary heart.
Letting go is not a setting down
of the burden,
or a release of the pain,
but rather an agreement with your ego
to consider love
not as something to receive
but as a gift to bestow upon your own self.
Forgiveness is not a single act,
it is not the end.
It is a peregrination into the desert of every day,
to find within the parched air and earth
a single drop of dew
Forgiveness, you see, is the ultimate act of grace.
It is charity without stipulation,
it is kindness without recompense.
It is a shaky unfurling of the clenched fist
and a quiet voice. It is the spark that drowns out the dense and uncertain fog.
It is the opposite of fear.
It is love,
yes it is,
in the truest and simplest form.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I am reading another new book, to add to the three new books I’ve already started this year. But this one stands apart (pun intended). It’s called Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto by journalist and novelist Anneli Rufus, and is a much-needed exposé of how loners get a bad rap. Loners, claims Rufus, are moved to the margins because we challenge the idea that life is more meaningful when shared with another human being. But is it? Sometimes I have felt that yes, it must be. But many times I have felt that no, sharing turns my thoughts and words and hours into someone else’s. And then where and who am I? This is not to say that loners can’t or don’t enjoy company and can’t or don’t love, but “Sometimes just one fantastic someone is enough,” as Rufus writes. And sometimes even that one fantastic someone is too much.
I have always had a fear of crowds, but I wonder now if it’s less a fear than a severe distaste for being ignored by masses of people shifting around me, for taking an elbow in the back, for realizing that I am simply one of many. Sometimes it feels more isolating to be in a room full of people who don’t understand me than in my house alone with perhaps the only person in the world who understands me: myself. This is why I avoid malls, amusement parks, crowded bars, cruise ships, cities, subways, and China. This is why I will be cremated. Cemeteries are chock full of dead people.
Loners are all around us. My mom’s a loner. She says she wanted to be a hermit when she grew up, to live out behind the library alone so she could sneak in and get books whenever she wanted without having to make small talk at the circulation desk. This makes me think maybe loner-ism is hereditary. Maybe I have the loner gene that hasn’t been allowed to mature because I live in a society in which being a loner is scorned. It earns you a Scarlet L, una-bomber status, pity in public spaces.
Oh yeah? Well Rufus says that all the best superheroes are loners: Batman, Spider-man, the Lone Ranger, Einstein, Dickinson, Dylan. Apparently being a loner has its advantages, like saving the planet or rewriting the laws of physics. This, of course, allows for donning special costumes, or letting your hair grow wild, or like Thoreau just setting off to the woods for a couple of years to reflect.
Party of One certainly has its oddities, like loners themselves, but manages to reclaim the word from the masses, the media, popular culture, and profilers. If loners weren’t loners, certainly there would be a movement, like feminism, that would ensure equal rights or nondiscrimination. Me? I’ve got my manifesto. Now who wants to talk about it with me?
Friday, January 2, 2009
Monday, December 8, 2008
Yesterday, buffeted against the snow and cold, I trekked through the woods behind my house. The underbrush that in the summer was thick with life now lies in waiting for the dead of winter. I am surprised to find a path so close behind my house, worn by the soles of souls of whom I remain completely unaware. I follow it West then rethink and take it East to see where it leads. Above me, the tall, thin trees snap and groan, so different from their summer sway, and are barely crowned in the sunlight's severe December slant.
I dead end behind a house nearby and retread West, following my own marks in the felted white. The Westward path, I know, leads to a newly built house on a razed rise with a stunning view. I know this spot well by now, having visited in stages, watching it morph from forest to foundation to frame, listening to the dull roar and sharp bang of progress.
I hop the tiny, determined stream and the tumbling stone wall, skirt the downed branches and the batch of brambles, and push back boughs, and there it is. Enormous and righteous, this new house lords over the land. I wonder, briefly, about the propensity of the rich to build up high. Then I think for a long time about Edward Abbey, and how Hayduke would have just lit a match and watch it burn.
I retread East, in the gathering gusts of frigid wind, in the lowering light, and the tap tap tap of tall trees, to my tiny unassuming house tucked away at the edge of the woods. The desire to destroy perhaps is born from the same cell as the desire to progress. Yet I desire neither. Warmth tingles back into my toes and fingers. I close the curtain against the ghostly gray of winter dusk and the dim light of development.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Lately I have been a little lost among the long stretches of the unknown. That vast and empty country in which there are no others like me, in which my prayers circle the canyon and are returned unchanged.
There is a line in a song sung by Emmylou Harris, who is a genius, that is perhaps the most honest and true of all the lines in all the songs sung. The lyrics speak her heartbreak after the death of Gram Parsons, to which she reveals that "the hardest part is knowing I'll survive." Oh, boy. Surviving means moving on and moving on means giving up and giving up means letting go of that which I want the most.
I cannot possibly know what lay in waiting before me, here on the plateau or on the canyon floor, or in the wind that sometimes whistles right through me as if I were an afterthought of the atmosphere. But I do know (most of the time) that within the absurdity of love there is a speck of something so blindingly beautiful that every material aspect of life becomes invisible. Oh, boy.
Picture is my own of Dead Horse Point, Utah, 2005.