Friday, March 19, 2010

someone great

The following excerpt is fictional.
There are unique moments when people share the deep sadness of existence.
I Heart Huckabees

"Are you excited for college?" he asked, looking at me with an expression of sincere interest not usually found in the exchanging of pleasantries.

"Yeah, I am..." I began, my eyes flitting to the concrete ground. For some reason the lie seemed strangely apparent. "Maybe a little bit nervous, but excited." I don't think even a really convincing saccharin grin would've covered the cracking in my voice.

At this point in the conversation the other person would usually cut in with sentiments of encouragement and advice. Then the dialogue would be so standard my responses would be near rehearsed. He didn't, though; I could feel him looking at me while I was staring at the ground. It seemed like he could tell I was lying, like he was seeing straight through my skull into my brain. He was the worst person to lie to, because he didn't feel compelled to avert a situation that most others would.

The moment seemed to stretch as I felt my eyes welling up. It was so hot and sunny, the air thick with late summer Chicago humidity. I stared down at the picnic table I was sitting on. I couldn't make eye contact.

"No, I'm not excited. I don't want to leave. I don't know if I'll come back. I'm so scared of things changing now. Everything will be different. And lately, when things have changed, they keep getting worse. I don't want them to change again, and again the choice is not mine. I don't want to start over," I said. As I said it, I started crying. I couldn't help it. It was the truth, the truth of a feeling that had built up for two years. And I wasn't accepting it.

He kept staring at me. He didn't try to hug me or console me the way most people would have. I immediately felt awful. He shouldn't have made me tell the truth if he didn't want to hear it.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to say all that. I'm fine. It'll be fine. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable." I looked up again through the sodium chloride water streaking my face. He was still looking. I don't think I've ever been looked at in a way so incomprehensible. The sun was filling up his eyes with liquid light.

"Don't say you're sorry. That was beautiful, and real. And so are you."

When I think about that now, I don't know if it was good or bad. It's seared into my memory like a second degree burn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

les noyers de l’altenburg

Sometimes it feels like we're all living in some kind of prison, and the crime is how much we hate ourselves. It's good to get dressed up every once in awhile and admit the truth: that when you look really closely, people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually beautiful. Possibly even me.

My So-Called Life

The great mystery is not that we should have been thrown down here at random between the profusion of matter and that of the stars; it is that from our very prison we should draw, from our own selves, images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

André Malraux

wrap me in your marrow, stuff me in your bones

everything was beautiful and nothing hurt

how i wish you were here

i remember pretending i wasn't looking

it's such a pleasure to touch your skin, to touch your heart

rooftops, clouds, and volcanoes

The attempt to force human beings to despise themselves is what I call hell.

When I despair... I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it always.

André Malraux

we are enough without

all the things we buy
to make us much more
than we are or need to be
we are simple
and complex
and rare
as is.
sabrina ward harrison

Monday, March 15, 2010

blink 1 for yes, 2 for no

neruda + justin blyth + cbgb + other things i like

all tomorrow's parties


i couldn't help thinking- if people were rain, i am drizzle and you are a hurricane

transmissions to horace
no emotion that's worth having could call my heart its home

the earth owes you nothing. it was here first.

torrents of sunbursts

you know you've got such dark eyes

golden and eternal, just like that

Sunday, March 14, 2010

dabbling with gravity and who you are

A few weeks ago I had coffee with a friend of mine who is religious. He explained to me what he gained from faith, and how it answered his questions about the point of his life. I listened to him intently, because he seemed to have the conviction and purpose that I want. (I hope this isn't sounding too sanctimonious. Are you there, God? It's me, Carolyn.)

I have no interest in promoting a religious viewpoint or ideology. I have never felt impassioned by a desire to impart religion or faith on someone. I do love to hear other people talk about it, though. My friend asked me what I was looking for, and I told him that I didn't really know, but that I didn't think that I could answer any of the questions that I have or find their meaning in another person or experience.

I want an alleviation to confusion and meaninglessness. I don't need an outlined purpose, but just the knowledge that everything is leading somewhere. That there will be some sort of resolution and that my efforts are not completely misguided. If you read anything I write, you might have noticed this feeling. I think about it a lot, and it sometimes takes away from the satisfaction of daily life. It really does.

When I explained this feeling to my roommate, she gave me the book Buddhism Plain and Simple. She said she thought I might get something out of it, and that it wasn't really a religious manual but a method of thinking and viewing the world. She said that some of the things I've written about, like wanting to be able to experience the nuances and perceptions of entities other than myself, were goals of Buddhism.

I felt a surge of relief reading the book, because it started by describing the dissatisfaction and resistance that I felt must have been written for me specifically. I could only really do it justice by putting the entire book here. I won't, though- I chose some of my favorite passages so far. Rewriting them was cathartic in and of itself. I wish I could write about the increased clarity that I am feeling reading it, but it's hard to describe. To me, a lot of it is about making every challenge and every moment a part of your life, and not willing time to pass or waiting to overcome a certain obstacle to be happy. It's about finding meaning in a constant flux of sensory perceptions and ideas rather than trying to mold experiences into a static construct. It's about letting your mind be influenced by life going on around you, and embracing the fluidity of time instead of trying to crystallize it.

If you don't become the ocean, you'll be seasick every day.
Leonard Cohen

I don't know if this is a solution. I don't think it's that easy. But it's definitely a start, and that's really what I wanted.
This is Right view: you must have at least a glimmer that there's something difficult, askew, painful, or troubling about human existence.
Ordinarily, when you step on a path, you're going somewhere. You start on it, traverse it, and if all goes as planned, you arrive at your goal or destination.

The path to freeing the mind is not like this. This path neither begins nor ends. Thus it's not really a path to somewhere.

Furthermore, the moment you set your foot on it, you've already traversed it in its entirety. Just to be on this path is to complete it. I mean this literally, not symbolically or metaphorically.
But first you have to step on the path.
The fact is, Reality doesn't need to be explained. Indeed, it's the one thing that doesn't need explaining. Truth and Reality are self-evident. What's to explain regarding thus- regarding the world as it actually is? What can we say about thus that doesn't remove us from it? The moment we try to capture and encapsulate Truth, we have paradox, confusion, contention, doubt, and strife.
We make this mistake repeatedly- and we only rarely notice we're making it. Instead, we search for an ever more detailed, complex, and "accurate" form of encapsulation. But what purpose does it serve to deny actual experience in order to run with an idea instead?

You're fully prepared for anything that might come along. Each of us has the power to simply be what we are, with nothing extra added. Nothing's lacking; nothing's missing. You are supported and sustained, right now, even though you may not yet realize it (or realize how). To completely end your unease of mind, all you need to do is see that there is nothing really nothing "out there" to get because, already, within this moment, everything is whole and complete. In doing so, you can awaken from the perennial confusion, from the existential angst, from the unanswered question of what life is about.

Your very own body and mind are also precious, because they're just as fleeting. They're changing- always, in every moment. In fact, you're nothing but change itself.
Let's examine this closely for a moment. It's easy to see that you don't have the body you had when you were a small child. Nor do you have the same mind. If you look carefully, you will notice that you don't even have the same body and mind you had when you turned to this page a few moments ago. In those few seconds, many cells in your body died and many others were created. Countless chemical changes took place in different organs. Your thoughts changed in response to the words on this page and the circumstances around you. Thousands of synapses in your brain fired thousands of times. In each and every moment, you changed.

To forget the self is to remember that we don't exist alone, but in relation to other people, to other creatures, to the planet, and to the universe. It is to focus not on ourselves as a force in charge of the manipulation of others, but on how our lives interpenetrate those of others- and, indeed, all the activities of a dynamic universe.

Steve Hagen, Buddhism Plain and Simple

Sunday, March 7, 2010

whitman and driftwood

We'll get the little bungalow you want, with a wrap-around porch that reminds you of the house you grew up in. We'll teach our kids about music the way your parents taught you. I agree that investing money in fancy dishes is silly; I'd rather drink out of mason jars. And on the balmiest nights in summer we'll light a citronella candle and sit on the porch and drink lemonade, or wine, and talk about our days. We'll have white linen sheets and a bed frame made out of really old driftwood. We won't have too much, because I know you hate being tied down. We will have a really tall bookshelf though, and you will have the time to read your list of books. I'll never get mad when you wake me up in the middle of the night because you can't sleep. I won't get mad. If you aren't sleeping I don't want to be either. We can stay up and talk about Jack Kerouac or Walt Whitman or Pablo Neruda. I know how much you love talking about them. You can tell me all the things that are keeping you up, because I really want to hear them. I see a meteor shower in your iris whenever you look at me, and I'll be glad you woke me up so I could watch it.

in a meadow at dusk

What am I doing? I don't know what I'm doing. I'm doing the best that I can. I know that's all I can ask of myself. Is that good enough? Is my work doing any good? Is anybody paying attention? Is it hopeless to try and change things? The African guy is a sign, right? Because if he isn't than nothing in this world makes any sense to me.

Nobody sits like this rock sits. You rock, rock. The rock just sits and is. You show us how to just sit here and that's what we need.

Albert Markovski

Bernard: Say this blanket represents all the matter and energy in the universe, okay? You, me, everything. Nothing has been left out, all right? All the particles, everything.

Albert: What's outside this blanket?

Bernard: More blankets. That's the point.

Albert: Blanket's everything.

Bernard: Exactly. This is everything.

Bernard: (pushes hand up in different places under the blanket) Let's just say that this is me, all right? And I'm, what, 60-odd years old and I'm wearing a gray suit. Blah, blah, blah. And let's say over here, this is you. And, you're... I don't know, you're 21. You got dark hair, etc. And over here, this is Vivian, my wife and colleague. Then over here, this is the Eiffel Tower, right? It's Paris. And this is a war. And this is, uh, a museum. And this is a disease. And this is an orgasm. And this is a hamburger.

Albert: Everything is the same even if it's different.

Bernard: Exactly. But our everyday mind forgets this. We think everything is separate. Limited. I'm over here. You're over there. Which is true. But it's not the whole truth because we're all connected. Because we... are connected.

Albert: Sure. Sure. Sure. Sure.

Bernard: Okay?

Albert: Yeah.

Bernard: All right, now, we need to to see the blanket truth all the time. Right in the everyday stuff. And that's what this is for.

Albert: Why?

Bernard: Why what?

Albert: Why do I need to learn how to see the blanket thing all the time in the everyday stuff?

Bernard: You wouldn't want to miss out on the big picture, would you?

Albert: Uh-uh.

Bernard: That's partly why you're here, right? And this is it. I'm talking about it right now. It will take a while for you to get it, you know? But... it will help you.

Albert: How?

Bernard: When you get the blanket thing you can relax...because everything you could ever want or be, you already have and are. That sound pretty good?

Albert: That sounds very good.

Bernard: Tommy, Tommy everything is connected and everything matters. There's not an atom in our bodies that has not been forged in the furnace of the sun. Now, isn't that cool? Huh?

Tommy: Yes.

Bernard: Okay, Albert. I can let you in on a couple of secrets. One, your mind is always occupied on something. Two, there is no such thing as you and me.

Albert: So then there's just nothing?

Bernard: Three, there's no such thing as nothing. There is no remainder in the mathematics of infinity. There's only the blanket.

I Heart Huckabees

Monday, March 1, 2010

every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you

P. S. R. Parallel Synchronized Randomness. An interesting brain rarity and our subject for today. Two people walk in opposite directions at the same time and then they make the same decision at the same time. Then they correct it, and they correct it, and then they correct it. Basically, in a mathematical world these two little guys will stay looped for the end of time. The brain is the most complex thing in the universe and it's right behind the nose. Fascinating!

é Miroux, The Science of Sleep

To say I believe time is finally fluid, and so are the boundaries between human beings, the border separating helper from the one who hurts always blurry. Wounds, I think, are never confined to a single skin but reach out to rasp us all. When you die, there’s that much less breath in the world, and across continents someone supposedly separate gasps for air.

…When I weep for you, don’t forget I weep as well for me.

Lauren Slater

Everyone you meet in your life - even total strangers - is already intimately connected to you. The idea that we are all separate and distinct beings is nothing but an illusion. We are all parts of a larger whole, like individual cells in a body.
Steve Pavlina