If you have an extremely like me, being a man with a voracious appetite for life, to be anywhere and do anything, and life somehow not wanting to accept that and pushing back hard with the time and chains of poverty, bad luck and illness, with every minute marked out for something and always running over into time marked for something else, or more often, the vast realm of impossibility, poetry and you are simply just not cut out for each.
But, nay, there’s the rub. For the more of life you are in, the better the poetry gets, kind of like never getting the best pictures because how in heaven are you able to reach for that camera or phone when even your two hands (never enough, I think) can barely manage to hold onto the oars and the boat to make it through and you usually end up overturning into the oncoming, never stopping water anyway.
I don’t remember much of what I read or what my teachers said in class as a young student, so naive and ignorant of the true ways of the world, but something I still believe as an immortal and unchangeable truth impressed me when a college professor compared the Roman writers, Ovid and Cicero, saying (most of you probably never heard of Ovid) that Ovid spent most if his time in the library while Cicero was put in life, among people, and of course a competitive reading of both authors is, as they say, history. I suggest you read both authors as I imaginr most of you haven’t.
Yes, poetry, thought and imagination, are always rude interruptions to the very thing which bore them, life itself. But, like our children, neither liking nor accepting the rules and schedules we arbitrarily impose on them, who either eventually subdue us and get their way and their freedom, or are borne down on so hard that we eventually break and turn into our corporate overlords at both ends of our paycheck a willing and submissive servant whose lights have been sufficiently put out to never question authority or peer pressure, poetry will either subdue us into it’s life of art or be snuffed out never to return, at least the idea it gave you. (There goes my blood sugar monitor alarming me and sniffing out this inspiration, like so many others that got lost in dark, invisible energy. Will have to leave off and return.)
I’m back. In 4 minutes, it will be time to wake up the kids and do gongyo. There goes poetry, like a mistress that comes in the night in a dream. I guess the interrupted nature of this piece will serve as an example worth 1,000 words. Besides, I’ll bet most of you are either impatient or already passed me on for someone else. At any rate, I use the time I chant to try to surrender any creative ideas while chanting daimoku (NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO) because NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO, being mystic (myo) is sublime and it makes both my chanting and my writing better so now what you’ve been seeing is my new enchantment.
Could be what appears to be the imminent presence of a new real woman in my life. I wrote the 600 pages of DNC Chairman when I was married, and my wife took care of many of my basic animal needs, so I could take care of my soul’s. I made myself write an hour a day and all day Sundays so I could get a masterpiece out before the 2008 Election. I often sat, from the scheduled, forced nature of it, in front of the computer screen, without a clue, because, as you know, if you’re still with me, poetry or art, does not like being on the clock. Nonetheless, I found with all that time which I don’t have the luxury of these days, that if you do force it, it starts to write itself. Besides, half the time or more, what I had written up to then, inspired me with so many ideas and spirit of what should come next.
At any rate, I’m 6 minutes for wake up and gongyo so
It’s Saturday night
when lovers are in each other’s sight.
but we can’t be together
because we have to work day and night.
I felt her love coming through the consultation.
I wonder if she felt mine through the clienteleship
I am a writer being forced to be a medical transcriptionist in a system that is verged by the fear of many and the immorality of a few to collapse very soon and leave us all, rich or poor, in much bigger trouble.
The teachers in school said the few spoil it for the many but they never taught us how to fix that and look what our world has turned into. They were just talking about the one or two kids who act out and that’s why there was no way they could help us figure out how to stop the kids with 2-digit ages above 20 who have gotten their fingers on the controls of our financial system and are enslaving us into their reign of terror with no effective accounting or oversight.
As long as I’m alive, I will stay young. Whether it’s nurturing the next generation, fighting for equal justice for all or awakening people to the beauty of their lives, I will be totally vibrant and alive. What I was too scared, too sick and too overwhelmed to do for too long, I will be doing 3-fold for a very long time ahead. I dare all you 20-year, 30-year olds, to try to keep up with me.
No not all.
But then there would be no reason to be alive if all was perfectly fine.
We are born into this world like fish sent out to sea.
Why go out to sea instead of stay home? No one can truly answer that.
But we do know that seawater has a lot of minerals not found upstream that enhances life.
My friend is a surfer. He does it because he likes the challenge.
So life essentially is like the salmon swimming back home. It is hard work and sometimes we wonder why we chose it.
But that is our journey, to swim back home to our Buddha self.
I was born way out in the sea in the world of suffering.
It was so bad I could not even remember the world of Buddhahood or the way back home to it.
I just chant and chant like the fish swimming and swimming without rest because at least I know my survival depends on it.
I made a lot of bad choices in this life that I now have absolutely no control over but must endure their effects.
I fight and fight and fight in my daimoku without rest to simply survive and lured on by the unseen promise that one day I will get back home.
So that is life.
Sometimes not fine, more often than not.
But with lots of reason to keep going no matter how hard.
And with you my darling to help along the way.
To be able to love you to make the bitterness and the pain a lot sweeter.
That is life.
I know the idea of making love to a stranger may sound more than a bit creepy, but love is like peace, justice and human harmony and happiness. If we wait until it feels right and perfect, the right time may never happen. Have you ever stood by a pool of cold water hoping for the right time to take that dive? Even if you try to go in at the shallow end, toes first, slowly, my experience is you still have to encounter that burst of cold water. But then, after that, you have so much fun. Or, to continue the metaphor about peace, justice and a better, when we take a bold move of any kind, we strike out against nature, refusing to allow her or anyone, whether through a force fabricated, to be our goddess, to bind us to her services (or theirs), striving to realize not just the easy part of our DNA but all that we are endowed with therein, we will fall, we will stumble, we will be severely hurt, we will suffer the agony of defeat and the pain of embarrassed humiliation. But it is still better to live that way, not just because of that tiny rose, that prize that awaits us at the end of an interminable stem of thorns but because, with every defeat, the rose we so ardently and desperately desire becomes us—we become better people for it, better lovers, even if the reciprocation is post-mortem or by a different set of deities who do not enjoy the luxury of being worshipped. (7/2 ADD: Amazing how faithfully unsought deprivation turns us into philosophers and spiritual mentors while depravation (you said you liked word play) and meanness are the products of having everything we want fall into our laps). I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, as much as I don’t know what your decision will be, that I can definitely count on Shakespeare and Verdi being in full agreement with me.
Ah, the idea of going to see a Broadway show, sitting at the New York City Ballet with someone who appreciates it as I do, who loves the finer and deeper things of life and has the full passion and the affection that makes life rich in all its facets. Though, like Henry V, I have spent a lifetime in grittier social climes, the blood of centuries of cultivation since the shakedown at Sinai still flows within this, albeit somewhat egalitarian bosom that longs to cling to yours.
You clearly will never understand how alone in the world every writer stands until it is incumbent upon you to fill that blank page and create that drama all on your own, to travel to unknown climes, up massive and intimidating climbs, at least not until you assign yourself that life’s mission. No, you are the person in front of the camera, the prima donna, the shining light. My job is to make you shine and yours is to shine. Your job is to turn your light on and mine’s to embrace it with a color that makes you so brilliant—doubly amazing. We could have that amazing partnership through life.
Love is vulnerability. It means meandering through scores of less than perfect circumstances to savor the limited time you might have with someone equally scared of what it means so that something more beautiful than anything else in the world can be experienced by you together with that person fully, physically, emotionally, mentally (although that’s usually where the rub is because our minds abstract and make things out of things which are not things to begin with) and spiritually. It means, as John Legend might say using different words, being with someone full of imperfection but loving her (him) even more because you, though the imperfections may be vastly different, are the same human being, a creature by nature full of imperfection yet, perhaps unlike all other creatures, yearning desperately to come together to form a more perfect union each day than the day before, finding yourself, like magic, suddenly loving the very things you hated, then growing to hate them again, then learning with patience and work, to love them again, a feature I don’t believe any relationship that runs its course to the deepest and happiest love is without. After all, if it were not for these imperfections, there would be no makeup sex, the best kind, the pinnacle of all sexual experiences (perhaps I idealize a bit here since my own reality has not always guaranteed that—not the quality of the sex part, but the makeup part).
I’ve really put a lot of care and thought into this. It has lived with me as any other of my writing pieces I have deeply treasured before sending them out into the world, as I’m prepared as any child leaving home for the cruel onslaughts of indifference, apathy, ignorance and simply a world being so wound up in its busyness that the cure for this fearsome time bomb we’ve turned our planet into yet do everything in our power to defeat our universal and wise premonition within us—that they are blind to the very cure right before their eyes—the healing power of poetry turned out by the pure human spirit that beats, unheard and unfelt, to a much saner and paced beat.
Many a flash has hit my mind that I’ve jotted down over many pages of my journal but have been unable to get it down in the memory of my computer (ed. note: I was at work when I wrote this where all phones and computers are strictly forbidden; thank goodness of the pen and paper), which is afforded me so little time to make legible, edit to clarity, wisdom, perfection and romance so as to be able to penetrate the protective wall you have wisely put up high surrounding your heart, hoping neither to pierce a vulnerable, wounded place in the bedrock nor to fail by writing against a part of the wall too rough and thick to have any effect, but to find the opening, hidden to my eyes, the secret gateway of admission to the palace of majesty that is your solemn, sublime, beautiful and exquisite world, hoping that somewhere in what follows will be the key, the password, the combination that is the magic.
Okay, take a pause, take a breath. And let’s go catch a concert in the park. Or maybe Shakespeare.