It’s grey, wet, chilly — the first day of autumn, someone just told me. I’ve been melancholy, ungovernable — inside with the children, inside myself, emotions rising like gusts off a lake, my eyes narrowed against the spray, suspicious.
I look for reasons for my sadness: I miss a friend; I’m sleepy; summer’s over. Reasons, someone wrote, are whores. I believe that. The rational mind bends and scrapes like a sycophantic servant caught napping. I’m not against reason. I just don’t trust it if I’m out of the room.
Out of the room is where it gets interesting: intuitions playing me like a song, the wail of a creative urge drowning tinny self-doubts. If my reason tries to catch and pin me, I fly away. There’s a universe of words, playing each other — but there’s no words for the music.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the door. “Yesterday’s ecstasy,” Patricia Sun says, “is today’s garbage.” We conquer a piece of time, and plant on it the flag of eternity — but it’s a guerilla war against greed and envy and fear. We meet ourselves in the mountains and chase ourselves to the sea. The only victory comes when we surrender, and surrender is unconditional: there’s nothing pleasant about it, no wafting incense and tinkling of bells, nothing pleasantly “spiritual” in the real act of letting go.
We let go of friends, lovers, parents, children, of seasons and cities we loved, of the night’s sleep, of thoughts and sensations we prized and exalted, of the morning light, of the words of teachers: what have I not kissed goodbye, mourned and forgotten, as a new panorama looms before me, another promised land which never quite keeps its promises, another pretty face or pretty idea?
The door swings on its hinges. I was a child, now I’m a parent: I still call my mother for advice and she calls me, and my father and I call to each other across the land of dreams. The human tree spreads its roots in all directions. I’m the trunk, fully a man, the untamed heat of love and loss burning in me, and I draw up water with my water fingers, from the dark earth of my inheritance: father as well as son, a body no less than a soul, a burrower in life’s secrets, fascinated with what is tangled and shadowy and close to the source.
To let the moment be free is hardest of all. The harsh pain and haunting beauty of life can seem like a memory, instead of a reality, clouded by opinions, expectations, ideas — even a magazine of ideas. To take off the armour of ego is scary, if I honor Spirit in the breach. To walk a straight line from my heart to yours is impossible, unless I’m drunk on love and dead sober about what love is.
I study the longing in me for a clue. I let the question, the want, the ache be my teacher; the door opens a crack. I laugh at my absurdly conflicting desires, the plaids and stripes of my manhood; the door opens more. With a groan and a giggle, a shrinking back and a lurching forth, I confront the paradox of being human; the door swings wide. I’m through.