Wisdom of the ages

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I’ve posted this poem many times, many places, and I think it’s beautiful in its simplicity and compassion. I am not alone in going through a difficult stage right now – there are breakups and relationship shifts all around me and as I said to a friend, while it’s comforting to know that we are not alone, it also kind of sucks that this simply is a part of the human condition and has been since, it seems, the dawn of time and writing. (See: Petrarch)

However, authentic, reciprocal love and incredible lives have also existed since the dawn of days. And anyone who is reading these words is capable of finding those things; faith in all its forms (religious or otherwise) is so much more powerful than I used to realize, but profound experiences in the past four decades have led me to a place where I am able to believe that good things can and will happen. They don’t happen on the same timeline for everybody, they don’t always look like what we grew up thinking they would, but they happen.

To my friends facing struggles, I offer these words from Vikram Seth:

All You Who Sleep Tonight

All you who sleep tonight

Far from the ones you love,

No hand to left or right

And emptiness above-

Know that you aren’t alone

The whole world shares your tears,

Some for two nights or one,

And some for all their years.

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Kingdom by the sea

Of course I’m nervous and waiting, my love, and of course I opened the wine. The wine that I promised not to drink so we could be authentically us but it’s 10:15 – you’re not so late, but I’ve waited for you for days, my dear. For days I’ve waited and craved you, hon, and now I’m not waiting – I’m just sitting here.

This too shall pass.

 

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Heartache is a curious beast. A strange bird. A disillusioned cat. I’m feeling it fairly intensely right now and truth be told, I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what is going on so it’s hard to place my emotions accordingly. I do know that I’ve done a lot of waiting and hoping and crying in recent weeks and that that is not the way it’s supposed to be. I know what I “should” do – we all, most of us, know what we “should” do, but knowing and executing are very different things. And matters of the heart are rarely black and white – I have a hard time retracting love once I’ve committed to it. This is a wonderful quality a small percentage of the time. Except, of course, where family and friends are concerned, because that love is constant and unconditional. Close friends. I have several exes in my life and this has caused conflict in relationships until the future-exes meet the ex-exes and realize there is nothing to be concerned about. People ask me how I manage to do it – I’ve never “hated” an ex – for once I see the vulnerable side, the little boy inside the tortured artist (I kid, they’ve not all been artists), I hold onto that. And I usually date people that I at least start out liking, so getting back to that place does not take much work. For as dark as I can be, as many demons as I’ve faced and as negative or callous as I’ve been accused of being, I am, at heart, an eternal optimist.

It’s going to get better, because it has to.

Into each life a little rain must fall

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I recall the moment I decided to like rain. We were in the breakfast room on a soggy afternoon; my dad mentioned that he liked the weather and we challenged him. He shrugged and said there was something sensuous about it. I was in my single digits and conditioned to find most things unnerving but that immediately resonated and has stayed with me since. I don’t remember not being conscious of the rain. I used to confuse the clouds with smoke from house fires. When I was in second grade a car down the block – probably empty – was on fire while we were eating dinner. I needed my mom to come to fire safety week that year. and book fair. and to the World Trade Center because it’s so high.

Missing person

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It’s the open-endedness, really, that’s so hard to sit with. The not knowing what’s happening on the other end of that non-ringing phone, or unanswered email, or makeshift prayer. I don’t know how to pray – I wasn’t raised with such knowledge, and so I do my best to make it matter as I go along. When I was first in Paris in 1989 I took a piece of paper (this was sanctioned; there was a stack) from Sacre Coeur with a prayer for the unaffiliated, a secular prayer: O Dieu que l’on dit amour, si vous existez eclairer moi. O God that [we] call love, if you exist, enlighten me. This has been one of my mantras ever since and I’ve let it help me in difficult times.

But now what? Now I’ve put my truth out there to anyone who will listen to it, anyone who wants to hear it. And I’ve no response at the moment and no idea what this means.

This can not last, this feeling of purgatory. It has to turn into grief or relief or anger or compassion. It has to budge because this, this not knowing what’s going on, is not easy to bear.

I will survive this, of course I will. But what to do, how to think, when to breathe – that’s what I need to figure out now.

O Dieu que l’on dit amour, si vous existez éclairer moi.