Come expecting answers and you’ll be left disappointed, but keep knocking, keep knocking, there are as many doors that will open for you as there are selves, but do not think that anything you do will allow you to be at one with yourself. That will come much later, if it comes at all. I’ve come to bear this wound, to endure these flaming arrows that sing in my pierced heart of all that comes and all that goes under the all-consuming terror of being no more.
“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
What more is there to say? It may be time to rein it in, to wait for rain to wash away these sins, to sit here as leaves are blown past by the wind. The end is never near, the way is endlessly long, the soul’s been dissembled by sorrow, yet the feet keep pressing on. When I press up against myself, who is it I press against? what am I up against here?
“Majestic shadow, tell me: sure not all
Those melodies sung into the world’s ear
Are useless: sure a poet is a sage;
A humanist, physician to all men.
That I am none I feel, as vultures feel
They are no birds when eagles are abroad.
What am I then? Thou spakest of my tribe:
I wonder what I am doing here. Mystery overwhelms you when you try to solve it.
“Within you there is almost no space; and it nearly calms you that in this constriction within you it is impossible for something very great to find room.”
Who is the one who became himself when he stopped trying to become himself? Who is the one who struggles to notice himself struggling? I shrug my shoulders, the same shoulders that could not force open the door that closed long ago, shaking me just a little, taking me into the center of my centerless gloom. What gloom! I must conclude this nonsense and move on to other things, things that make more sense, things I cannot touch. Not things.
“Just as the earthly lover fears abandonment and rejection by the beloved and can be possessed by jealousy and hatred, so the soul, in its intense thirst for love, feels forsaken and as dried up as is the lost wanderer in a desert wasteland.”
When I touch the woman I long to touch, why do I still long for her? When I begin to know her, why do I feel I’ve lost her, and myself?
“Besides my numerous circle of acquaintances with whom, by and large, I maintain very superficial relations, I have one close confidant—my melancholy—and in the midst of my rejoicing, in the midst of my work, she waves to me, beckons me to her side and I go to her, even though my physical frame stays in place; she is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder then that I, on my part, must be ready to follow her on the instant.”
The self I live beside, as if I am in contact with it, is like the powerful hand of another that goes limp when it touches my hand, is like the limb of a black oak that has broken off from the tree and sits splintered as a bridge before it collapses like a marriage into a dying river, is like the crib of a baby whose crying is not heard, is like the toothache in my heel that seals me from the sky.
“Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’
Carrying a dead man’s shield
Heart burnin’, still yearnin’
Walkin’ with a toothache in my heel”
The hound that hounds me provides no relief but I concede he knows about heartache. He is the heartbroken one, the one who will never find the one, the lone one who finds glory only in that state when he is in fact alone. There is no glory in being the lone one around others. That glory is lost as the true self is found, the glorious self that no imagined glory can match, the unimagined self, the unimaginable self, who is not the tragic self.
“Let us acknowledge our misery. Let us yearn for that place where no one can scorn us. I’m thinking of the words the bride sang in the Song of Songs, and I see that they apply perfectly here. It seems to me that none of the contempt or tribulation we endure in this life can compare to those inner battles. If we find peace where we live, there is no conflict that can disquiet us. But if the cause of our strife is within ourselves, then no matter how much we desire relief from the thousand trials of this world and no matter how much the Beloved desires this tranquility for us, the results will be almost unbearably painful. And so, Beloved, please raise us to the place where the miseries that taunt the soul relent. God will free the soul from suffering when he delivers her into the final dwelling, even in this very lifetime.”
There is glory in being the tragic self, but it is the kind of glory that kills you finally by driving you off a cliff. I do not wish to be driven in that way. I wish only to hear the undivided silence that rests in my breast like the remembered song of a bird before dawn, heard in the December of the heart.
“While I am writing, I’m far away;
and when I come back, I’ve gone.
I would like to know if others
go through the same things that I do,
have as many selves as I have,
and see themselves similarly.”
Start on this path and you will not ever complete it. Start noticing your contradictions and you will be busy for quite some time.