age, aging, beauty, Brussels, Buddha, depression, Donald Trump, loneliness, meditation on melancholy, motherhood, neurosis, Paris, photography, politics, religion, societal change, spirituality, suffering, travel, yoga
To Honor and Love and Destroy
I was never meant to be married. Or to have children. Or to live in the United States, a country that has alienated me since childhood and yet, due to my own fear, laziness, lack of imagination, whatever one wants to name it, still finds me here in middle age. I am solitary, contrary, a humanist in belief a misanthrope in practice; I’m overly cerebral, absurdly emotional; I’m fastidious and chaste and ruinously sexual. I want to make love to almost every beautiful soul I see and I want to live in virginal perfection, the embers of Artemis my only warmth. Like the beautiful Kendrick Lamar, I too “pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower/So I can fuck the world for 72 hours/Goddamn I feel amazing, damn I’m in the matrix….” But then I pack it up, go home, clean in body, traceless as untrodden sand. I remember, after nights of 8-balls and vodka, and the messy mix of conversation, dark-lit flirtation, how satisfying it was to return, alone, huge-eyed and emptied, to my quiet apartment, furnished with an enormous bed, too many books, and an echoing kitchen. Rich, I felt. Even during the crash, so rich in the solitary swim of thought, in the return to a contained, if slightly overdosed, self.
Five animals, four houses, three children, two stillbirths, one husband, and one giant nervous breakdown later I still feel that way. Here, the scrum of human activity; there, the blossom of the forest-monk self, my hidden truth.
I am filled with rage and hatred, toward myself mainly, but also toward more general things: the myopic human idiocy that causes infinite suffering, cruelty to the innocent, violations of my ever more strict aesthetic principles. As I age I wonder if I’m just angry with the fact of mortality, and the more brutal fact that no matter what I do in the world I will always be a failure; the standards I possess are grotesquely inhuman, and perfectly designed to invite sorrow, self-pity, loneliness. The sharpness of the outline, the clarity of my understanding, is in itself amusing, in the most wry and bitter sort of way: only a narcissist could have such an intimate understanding of herself, yes?
For months now my health has been poor, my marriage even poorer; the path has become one of blinding nettles all in shadow. Or perhaps more accurately I recognize now that there is no path, there is never a path, and the hope for one, or of the faith in one is the sad, sometimes beautiful act of the mind reaching for what it can never have: order. Buddha speaks of the path, Christians speak of the path, even agnostics fall prey to the language of hope and proper fate. But does the notion of a path in life not imply advancement, evolution? Where some might see a path, I can only spy the repetitive fear and narrowing of human habits (a perfect and perfectly devastating general example for my generation: Barack to Trump in four years). My children are tangled in the intricate, yet somehow stupid, opposing patterns of adult argument, anger, love, graciousness, selfishness. The patterns repeat, repeat, repeat. And then the children are grown, left to create their own web of alternating loyalty and destruction.
When I write it is quite often the case that the act of writing itself feeds some sort need for redemption within my nature; I experience the same with asana practice and ballet technique. When I complete a written meditation (never complete), or long asana session or particularly musical dance class (also, it goes without saying, never ever complete), I almost always sense some sort of unity with the Other: other beings, other elements of myself, gods and goddesses in myriad form.
But not now. Not during this time. My son just asked me “what would happen without energy?” We were talking about how the nature of the universe is both gravity and energy; the notion of gravity is intuitive, ideas about energy impossible. I quickly answered him, “Well that would be like asking what Nothing would be like, which is a logical impossibility. Every time you visualize or describe Nothing, that is something, and that is energy.” (My son and I frequently have these discussions at 10PM, when his little 7 to 40 year old mind is writing out the answer to every anxious query).
I would never tell him, though, that when I am in this place, this mood, this land, that Nothing seems more real to me than Something, and that the light of energy, its wave, its particle, has been reduced (it cannot be reduced)… has been eliminated by the negative implosion that is too often my mind.
Today sweet and lovely Brussels was bombed. During my recent stay in Paris, I lived for a bit in the 10th, and saw the flowers, the notes of outrage, support, and protest. The environment… one not even need finish the sentence. Civil wars in Africa go utterly unreported and unremarked. And it is not even possible to finish a sentence attempting to explain Trump. He is just a word, a symbol, representing the speechless nihilism and frothing idiocy that constitutes so much of human history. Trump. Perhaps, like Prince, he really should just be represented as a symbol, though not of genius, of course, but of the darkness within the human heart that can never be truly named.
$?0, possibly? I will have to ask my graphic artist friends.
There is the blackness of the macro, of the world and its peoples and animals. There is the blackness within: my own loneliness, deeper by the day; my marriage, loving but essentially separate, my poor children, adored but possessing the misfortune of having a neurotic for a mother. My health: I am waiting at this moment on a second biopsy to find out if I have cancer, or an autoimmune disease. All is a fading, and not in a beautiful autumnal way: my beauty, which I sadly never appreciated when I had it, my prana, one’s deepest life force. It’s just age, it’s just age, and reality.
But I have never lived well in reality (whatever that is). I once had a very fine professor. He was something of a mentor, and looking back I am sure a man who wanted very much to be my lover, but I was too stupid to realize it. Once in his office he turned to me and in a rather fierce, almost unfriendly voice, said, “But this is the world in which you must live. This world, in all its modern horror and inconvenience. You are too much the Romantic.” Prescient words, words that could have been spoken by Buddha himself.