The wind will not relent; it does not rest on Sunday. Neither do I. I work each day, but I must learn to find wakeful rest in my work. People work hard for five days, so they can rest from work on the weekends. They work hard for forty years, so they can retire from the world and its demands. I don’t blame them. I already feel like retiring at twenty-seven. I re-tire myself daily.
The wind does not retire, it only inspires in its passage through. In my passage through this world, I retire and am inspired, I wither and am strengthened, I curl in on myself in a dark room and am opened to the light and expand outward, letting the sun do for me what I could not do for myself. I cannot become myself through trying to become myself, through striving, and yet I strive. After my striving has gotten me nowhere, I give up, hopeless, and give it over, hoping my so very generous action will give me everything I want and need.
So my hopelessness is not genuine; it is a façade, an image of what I think hopelessness should look like. I don’t believe it myself. Sometimes I don’t believe myself capable of anything genuine, and yet I was genuine before I knew it was possible not to believe. It is not possible.
I believe in the maker of this heaven, the earth beneath my feet. The maker makes; I did not make myself. Do I make myself clear? Dark clarity of the rippling black pond, I ask you: what mysteries churn beneath your surface, not placid but moved rapidly by the wind? I ask you if they are the same as the mysteries that churn beneath my surface. I go to church only when the pews are empty. My whole body lurches from side to side as if I am on a boat in a rough sea, but I do not get seasick. The dance that moves me is more of a writhing, as if the one who dances is in intense pain, and maybe he is, but as a dancer he needs to understand the rhythm of the churning world. The world I see and feel writhes and whirls; I’d be falsely blithe to dance as if it were smooth and still.
I see darkness before me. I do not see clearly. I see like a man who has been punished for seeing, who saw too much and was put away, only released when he promised never to tell what he’d seen. I see death before me, to take sight away forever, and my existence here puzzles and terrifies me. I don’t know where the pieces go. I never was too good at putting the puzzle pieces together.
Laid before me was an image, and the pieces needed to go together in a certain, impossibly complex way, to form that image. The image was an ark, vaguely remembered from an old story where a dove had found a place to rest. I was supposed to join the pieces to match the picture of the ark, the image that promised in some unclear manner to protect me. Why I was supposed to complete this task I did not know. The job felt overwhelming, and everyone was watching me, and what help they offered was not helpful. Some of them wanted to put the pieces together for me; they were frustrated by my ineptitude. I was moving too slowly. It was easy, you see. All you needed to do was start working, and then you’d see how it all fit. Others looked on from a distance, as if they were the audience in a movie theatre watching an unskilled actor deliver clichéd and stilted lines. They muttered under their breath and laughed, the way a group of people laughs at the outsider they are relieved they will never have to be. My incompetence seemed to bring them together, but the puzzle pieces were still very much apart. I could not even find two parts that fit with each other. And time was running out.
I began to sweat. The pressure was nearly unbearable. I didn’t even understand who had given me the task. It was as if the puzzle pieces had just appeared before me, next to the image of the ark, and I simply began to go to work, since there was nothing else to do, and it didn’t seem right to leave the thousands of pieces scattered, each one apart and incomprehensible. It felt unfair somehow, that the pieces were useless by themselves, and only made any sense when many were connected. None of it made any sense to me, for I could not see the whole, the ark, except in the picture of the image I was supposed to replicate. I saw only the unconnected parts. After a long period of futile struggle, I tore the picture of the ark in half, to the horror of the multitudes who looked on. I went to the shore and threw the pieces in the sea.
I am not here to be a master of reproduction. I am here to stand in awe of the whole that is not a stagnant image, already created, but something real, being created each instant by some force I cannot perceive or understand.
I do not understand my being-here. My being, here. My God! To be here, to be this body here—there, wherever—this body, sitting in this chair. This body, one day to disintegrate into ashes. To be ashes, tossed out to sea. To be sea, absorbing ashes, taking in the remains of a single body, neither diminished nor enhanced by the imperceptible change. To be a body woken by light each morning, or by the sound of the wind, going out onto a porch to consider drifting clouds, some dark, some lit by the rising sun. To be an ear, able to hear a crow. To be a body, capable of uniting with another body. To be a soul, alone, in union with itself.
To be a soul, alone, divided within itself. Night again, bringing the familiar ache. I sit with my back straight, my body still, and fight the urge to cover my face in my hands and weep. Human world, what on earth are we doing? Weeping. Where are we going? Somewhere quiet, some place dark, some secret crevice in the soul, known only to ourselves, where we can be completely alone, and weep until there are no more tears.
Broken heart, keep breaking open. The tears are true; let them fall. You do not need to know the reasons why they fall. They fall without reason, never within it, beyond the plains of reason and down into the savage valley of truth. The tears do not fall gently or softly. They fall like the rains in a Florida hurricane, and the heart falls violently into their truth, which cannot be expressed through words. The heart’s fall is not broken, and so it breaks open, and its free fall frees it from the prison of pretended togetherness.
I will be with you tonight, oh heart, in your senseless pain. And I will be with you tomorrow. I couldn’t leave you if I wanted to, which I so often do. Tonight, I don’t want to go anywhere; there’s nowhere I would rather be. We are here, my heart; somehow we are here, you and I. It is a lonely night, but you are here. I’m never as alone as I imagine.
True heart: teach me. I am here to hear you. You are the teacher; I am the student. I am open and willing to learn. The wind is my teacher, and the sea is my teacher. The crows are my teachers, and the trees are my teachers. I am the student, taught by all.
True heart, you know how to love perfectly, for you yourself are perfect love. I do not know how to love at all, for I do not know you. Yet you are in me. I need what is in me to love what is not, and to love what is.