Without your sun, I become a hard knot of tension

Without your sun, I become a hard knot of tension in a dark room with the windows shut and the shades drawn. Without your touch, I suffocate as I try to incorporate the abundant silence of dawn. Without your bread, I stuff my buffering brain with empty calories of heady knowledge. Without your breath, I gulp the humid air, straining to fill the floors in my body’s home, as if intending to hoard a diminishing commodity. Without your ear, I swoon on the seesaw of a thousand dualities. Dizzy as an erratic acrobat, I long to climb down off my childish contraption, surrender to the soft grass, and gaze up in wonder at the black sky, re-establishing contact with night. Only there, aware of my smallness and your grandeur, can I ask from the last dregs of my solitude: ‘O Most High, tender attendant of stardust, won’t you seal my heart’s cup? Let me end these litanies of lament, and glorify your fine handiwork.’ But how do I praise the sweet juice oozing from a plate of Mazafati dates, while I waste away in a fruitless desert? So many worlds of difference exist between taking the cup with a willing heart and sucking it down with a heartless will. Lord, let the seeds of willingness spill through the holes of this powerless body and grow fertile in the holy ground of my soul. As my physical form slowly declines, may my essential nature gradually arise, and may I ride that transmutation train through the dense towns of my pain, down into the sacred center of now.

A Frustrated and Fastened Existence

My aphantasia or mind-blindness is frustrating. I want to go back, find an event in my past, and look at it closely and clearly to uncover and make sense of the specific way I reacted to that specific event, which conditioned me to continue reacting in that way to similar events. But I can’t do it. I can’t tangibly return to a past event in memory. There is nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to taste, nothing to smell, nothing to touch. I am stuck with the present, and all the gurus with their beatific smiles stressing that the present is all there is, all the spiritually evolved people encouraging me to access the power of Now, do nothing to get me unstuck, or help me let go of my resistance to and frustration with this stuckness, which is what is here now. I want to go back into the past to try and understand why I have no patience for the present or hope for the future. But I can’t even conjure up a past feeling.

Since the past is out of the question, let me question the events of this day to see whether I can discover anything of value. I wake up already in a dark mood, exhausted though I slept nine hours. I make some coffee. The coffee wakes me up slightly, but the energy gained from the stimulant is used, by some unproductive but frequent mechanism of the self, merely to stimulate and increase my frustration. It is the kind of frustration that seems not to have any immediate cause. Which only means that the cause lies outside my conscious awareness.

I feel the frustration in my stomach as a hard knot of tension, what you might feel before running a race, or in the middle of a core workout. But I haven’t done any physical activity today except walking upstairs to put on the water for coffee. I am simply tense. I feel like I do not want to be disturbed by anyone today, but I am already disturbed, and there is no one else here. I feel a domineering inner disturbance. It is as if a rope, frayed from overuse, is tied around my midsection, and it pulls me along. I go wherever the rope, the noose, wills me to go. It is frustrating to feel I am not in control of where I am going. I cannot take one true step. But when the frayed rope snaps, or I let go, what will happen to me? It is like being on a ledge high on a canyon rim, the drop-off sudden and steep. Holding on to the rope I live a frustrated, fastened, anything-but-free existence. But if I let go, the only prospect I can see is an immediate fall to my death on the jagged rocks below.

I want to move easily, like a man who knows where he is going. Or maybe he doesn’t know where he’s going, but in that case he doesn’t mind not knowing. His every step somehow communicates a natural and relaxed attention, both to his outer environs and to his inner state. He trusts that he will know where to place his feet as he goes along. Wherever he ends up, and whatever he encounters along the way, will enlarge his experience of life, deepen his gratitude for it, and this awareness of the manifold ways in which life is a gift will grow within this man unself-consciously, until his thankfulness becomes as much as part of him as his hands and feet. He does not need to believe that life is a gift; he feels it and knows it. Even the deaths of the people he loves, even the prospect of his own death, do not subtract from this unshakable felt knowledge. If anything, they add to it. Death becomes for him a reason for more abundant life. Every passing moment is even more precious than the last, because every moment that passes brings him closer to his last.

But for the man who is not free, the tense man, the man whose every action is a reaction to some inner disturbance, life no longer seems a gift, and each passing moment, rather than expanding his capacity for heartfelt gratitude, only racks up his tension and increases his heart-constricting dread. Part of him sees and resonates and wants to reach out to the free man, ask him how he has been transformed, while another part of him envies and hates the free man, for he only serves with his easy grace to remind the roped man of his bondage. Life for the self-oppressed man is a constant struggle, the bulk of which takes place invisibly, in the confused turmoil of his inner world. Simple and spontaneous connection with anyone or anything looks to him like a monumental task, wrapped tightly as he is beneath the thick cords, the layered bandages, that cover his forgotten, but not thereby healed, wounds.

To reach out seems futile, for how can anyone else understand the maze he is stuck in, and lead him out? Despite this feeling of distressed futility, he longs for someone to see his plight in its entirety, to understand his suffering so deeply that, in the process of being completely understood, he is also freed forever from the idea that he was ever anything but free. But until that fairytale person arrives, he contents himself to waste his hours failing to understand his discontent. Though he claims to know without a doubt that he also cannot free himself, he continues to strive to do just that. His strained effort only tightens the chains, and to be in chains, even if they are not precisely literal, is to be on fire with tension, to feel every nerve in one’s body fighting in vain to loosen the iron bonds.

“The Long-Awaited Remedy”

He’s out on the road, to break out of the mold
He vows he will never come back
He feels under siege, like his soul has been seized
His very lifeblood is under attack

She rides off into the night, rides on out of sight
A prisoner of longings and dreams
She has to get near to what she can no longer hear
Before it all comes apart at the seams

The truth can’t be heard, it lies beneath the word
The rooster now crows at midday
The grass won’t stay down, it grows while we drown
In all too predictable ways

The wino is out on the curb, he takes another swill
As men full of hate smile broadly and proclaim goodwill
And the sick man’s got no money to pay his hospital bill
He hears the spokesperson shout, ‘Have no fear!
The long-awaited remedy will soon be here!’

Now the market has crashed, the city is being thrashed
By sellers and buyers and thieves
He looks to the east, there’s no sign of the peace
That all the fighting was supposed to achieve

She takes a look inside, where the true war resides
And nothing in there makes any sense
Everything’s gettin’ harder, no one’s any smarter
The inaugural address is being given in past tense

The future can’t be heard, the past is lost in the words
Of a writer who doubts he can last
The strong have long gone, the spectacle drags on
With actors who have all been miscast

The fashion model is fired for the pound she is overweight
While her car gets impounded for the minute she is late
And as the romantic wiles away the time waiting for his soul mate
He hears the spokesperson shout, ‘Have no fear!
The long-awaited remedy will soon be here!’

“Insanity in the air”

Well, now it’s gotten dark
I got nothin’ to do
I walk wistful through the park
Wishing I could stop thinking of you

I stop in a teashop and find an empty chair
I look around and observe the scene
I try to absorb the tension in the air
Feels like not a soul in the place is at peace

Some people are on computers
And the rest are on phones
A few people sit by themselves
But no one lets themselves be alone

The lone man is suspect
The lone woman rare
I can’t help but detect
Insanity in the air

Abstract paintings on the inside walls
A real life hobo sleeping out on the curb
That cute cashier could be my downfall
I’d get up and talk to her if I had the nerve

All I wanted was to see it through
Now all I want is to be left alone
All you wanted was for me to be with you
Now all you want is to be well-known

The hobo sings a mournful dirge
The woman next to me gives a mighty sigh
I think how we three will never merge
And how difficult it is to be unified

The hobo is suspect
And brought to despair
Does it pain you to detect
The insanity in the air?

Bright college girls talking about their travels
Something about it all is making me sick
I wonder how quickly I can unravel
I wonder if anything I’ve learned will stick

Wish I had a pair of sweatpants
Seems like they’d be nice to wear
I feel like melancholia
Has got me in a trance
It won’t let me go or stay anywhere

I go outside and stand on the corner
I’m trapped and wrapped up in cyclical thought
I feel like some lonesome wordless foreigner
His only claim to fame a spot-on jump shot

The foreigner is suspect
The native is ensnared
Everywhere I go I detect
Insanity in the air

Thought I had something for a second
Well, I lost it fast
Tomorrow the weather will be sunny, I reckon
While I’ll feel frozen in the heartless past

Thought maybe things would be different
All I know now is that I was wrong
You know I can feel awfully deficient
Wherever I go I’ll never belong

I’m watching people and doubt their actuality
I’m watching myself slowly slip away
I thought I’d get better acquainted with reality
Now I wake up disgusted with the break of day

Everyone is suspect
Especially the solitaire
Tonight it’s clear and so direct
I can almost touch it
The insanity in the air