I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Sunday morning in Central Park, chilly September:
I stood, hungry, packed shoulder to shoulder with strangers,
feeling like one of the huddled, shivering Antarctic penguins
I’d observed, over Burmese takeout, on a nature show.
Their life seemed futile, like mine: eat, shit, molt, mate.
The Dalai Lama — Emperor Penguin, if you will — a dot on the distant
stage, chuckled sporadically through the sputtering sound system.
I needed to pee, but Tibetan men blocked the Porta-Johns.
I felt shy at the thought of marching through them
(“Excuse me please”), all Caucasian, anxious and huffy.
I was certain that on Monday I would be fired, yet again.
I had no idea how to get my supervisor to like me.
I wanted a sesame bagel with cream cheese, a husband, a kitten,
hope that life would hold out more for me than,
oh goody, the monthly TransitCheks in my pay envelope,
the bonus that just covered credit-card bills from the previous year,
then a spot on an X-ray and a doctor’s voice on the phone and
then pluck, finally, and a brave front while I would grow sicker
and weaker until death and the floating and the bright light out
of which Grandma and Grandpa, who never liked me very much,
would take form — he in his flannel shirt and she in her housecoat —
and start to berate me, picking up right where they’d left off.