It’s no wonder we reach for supernatural explanations, incantations and spells. Feeling as I do now, so near to breaking, I can’t point to a single overwhelming event, fact, obstacle. Instead, small moments stretch out behind me like a long path of fallen dominoes, and ahead they stand precariously, vulnerable and threatening to fall so quickly one after the other that I won’t be able to keep up.

It is very hard to sit comfortably on the mat, breathe deeply and trust that things will change. My perceptions will change. My perspectives.

This morning the crows’ chatter was grating. It shouldn’t have been. But in the dark, in the drizzle, with my shoulders aching and my mind echoing conversations (that have and haven’t actually taken place), I wanted to shout back.

I’ve always found it easiest to shift my perspective when I shift it in the material world. Stand-up. Run. Leave town for a day. Leave the country for a week. For good. How big is the thing I need perspective on?

I wanted to rush through their gathering
the way the freight train does on most mornings,
so close to the grove you can feel the wind
rerouted by its intrusion.
The trees shake. The crows wait.

I can hear it now, actually – right on cue – passing behind the neighbor’s house, metal against metal in a high-pitched howl. I can feel a cry somewhere
behind my sternum. It presses
upward and is easy to mistake for heartburn,
though not acidic: rounder, fuller
like an over-ripe fruit.

Nothing like metal shavings of the railroad track, actually.
Nothing that can compete with the world’s ills and hurts and
imperatives.

No. This withheld cry will soften into rot
and something new will eventually
emerge. A new fruit – not better – but
a potential. Because
on it goes.

And catharsis? Well, that’s the stuff
of fiction.


On the other hand. Unlike yesterday, this morning I remembered to wash my hair while showering. I found my missing comb under the sideboard in the entrance hall. I remembered to take the pills that keep my blood from clenching into tight little balls of stop.

That’s my gratitude list for a Wednesday. How am I doing? For today: this is good enough.

It is an odd project – to sit down in this little room every day and write. No matter what.

What comes, comes. Like dipping a bucket into a well and hoping you pull up a little container filled with clarity. Reflection.

That’s a shit metaphor. Sorry.

Some days nothing comes on its own. Some days my thoughts are taushetsbelagte, which (nearly) literally means shrouded in silence.

But what is gnawing at me usually finds a way out – indirectly. And it thrills me no end when I hear it speaks to other peoples’ experiences without speaking at all of a specific story. In some ways, it helps me remember the story itself is irrelevant – the (surely there is a good German word for it?)… the ambiance is part our shared human experience.

It helps me remember why I prefer poetry – or the poetry in a story that makes it more than a sequencing of events.

These aren’t the Drakes
you were looking for.

I ran this afternoon between classes, along the creek near the school. Two kilometres out, two in, a shower and back to class. It was on this little stretch of a green lung that I stumbled on a Mandarin duck I mistook for the wood drake I’d gone searching for on Saturday.

That’s how it happens. There’s no point in searching.

I just need to notice when the world turns towards me. And accept what beauty comes.

A Mandarin duck on a Monday afternoon between Theater Production and Theater History. Between a working session and a shower. Then a film version of The Glass Menagerie.

Not one of my students knew who the kjekkis John Malkovich is now. The young man is history.

Because the world is always turning towards us. Spinning under our feet imperceptibly. So stealthily we don’t even realize we are getting carried away with it. 1,000 miles an hour.

I suppose the truth of it would make us throw up.

John Malkovich isn’t relevant for my 2nd year students. Not for Being John Malkovich. But he is relevant enough as a good-looking young man who commands their attention to tell a story of what it is to be squeezed between what someone else wants from you and what you want for yourself.

That grasping –
experience
is always relevant.

My 3rd year students in that working session this morning? Some of them are working on a sequel to The Glass Menagerie. It’s interesting to watch their minds leaping like poetry. Finding what is relevant.

Sometimes it’s a very thin thread of experience. But there is always something…
there.

This Sunday didn’t begin with a Dharma Talk. Which was disappointing. I’d gotten up at 05.15 assuming there existed some unspoken agreement based on a pattern I’d noticed.

I went back to bed. Maybe that was lesson enough for today.

I’m tired. I’m still not convinced that the burden I’ve been carrying the past two weeks is actually gone, but yesterday I allowed myself to slip it off my shoulders – to set it down.

And today, I ache. My shoulders, my head, my heart. The load of “what-ifs” and “but-thens” in the corner of the room like a nest of snakes.

Once my step-father took me to the river to fish, and I wandered along the bank downstream until I stumbled on a log – nearly falling into a nest of baby moccasins. That moment: that “what-if” might have been the first hammered into my brain. “I shouldn’t have to tell you not to…”

What if I dare to wander? These are the worries I carry, the what-ifs that accumulate when one doesn’t wait to be told, doesn’t stay within the circle that someone drew to include you in their muddy little realm.

Aren’t these the worries we all carry? Premature guilt? Premature shame?

After I crawled out of bed a second time and had a cup of coffee, I sat down to work on this week’s meditation prompt – worries and restlessness. I started thinking about the H.C. Andersen story about the red shoes.

I think I have my own pair of red shoes. It is freeing to take this perspective – that all of this restlessness doesn’t come from within me, but as the result of my grasping at something I want so intensely, so simultaneously single-mindedly and absentmindedly.

I’m fine. I’m just wearing a cursed accessory. I have no idea if I am reading Andersen with a Buddhist perspective, but it is a perspective that makes sense to me.

I’ve never walked on coals, but from what I understand, it is simply a matter of not stopping. You walk as quickly as you can, while the perspiration from you fear helps provide a tiny barrier to keep you safe. If you stop? You get burned. I’ve known this for a long time:

Keep moving and consequences can’t keep up with you. Keep moving and you’ll slip through their fingers. States’ lines. Names changed. A driver’s license is freedom. A pressing deadline, a permission slip – hall pass – enigma.

We moved a lot when I was a kid. And that is an understatement. We once fit 4 lives into a U-haul. A drugged cat wrapped in a bath towel bit my ankles all along Route 66 (and then some) – then we crammed ourselves into an already-occupied two-bedroom mobile home: 4 adults, 3 children and a vengeful cat.

Every corner filled with snakes.

The drive to always look for something better carves a very deep groove in the heart.

Momentum. An object in motion stays in motion…
but the world is not a vacuum.

The eternity machine doesn’t really exist. Something is fueling the motion. There’s a guy in the back room getting paid less than minimum wage to keep the thing going – to maintain the illusion.

In Andersen’s Christian perspective, Karen cuts off her feet when she can’t pry them out of the cursed shoes. A sacrifice as payment for her sins. But I’m thinking, there must be at least fifty ways to take off your dancing shoes.

Right?

Isadora Duncun died when her scarf caught in the wheels of her car. It’s probably very unfair to Duncun that this fact now pops into my head.

I started looking for a new job again last week. I’ve been browsing the housing ads.
But it’s time to just dig in.

To go ahead and burn – to burn an ever-widening circle of my own in this damned over-grown field.