February 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.—Lao Tzu
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
Very tired, unable to sleep, I read an article in The Times about “reluctant caregivers”—people caring for difficult parents-in-law or parents who had always been cold and disapproving. It astonishes me how dutiful so many people are, what high standards they have for virtue.
I have never been nor will be that good. I can be kind to those I love, when I’m not too unhappy. If I am unhappy, I try to keep away, although that is also difficult for people. What I write about can be painful. My new friend Robin said yesterday that she was surprised at how much she was enjoying reading this blog, although it could be described as “a downer.” I told her she was exactly whom I wanted to write for and entertain—someone who doesn’t know me well enough to feel worried or sad, or irritated at my self-absorption.
I dreamed I was a vampire the other night, and I had the cutest little fangs, very pert and feminine. The best part was that although my fangs were small and I was facing eight male thugs ready for rape and murder, just flaunting them made the men scatter.
I love my dreams. They make so much more sense than my waking life.
I am trying, as so many times before, to focus on what and whom I love (writing; you, friend, stranger) to fight the impulse to isolation at its root; the hopeless attempt to convince myself that I don’t care about those who hurt me, I don’t care about whether my books are read, I don’t care if the world ends in fire and deluge…
I understand why my therapists gave up on me; I keep trying to do the same thing. But not yet. I don’t want to curdle into little grayish clumps of misery like what came off the pork chops when I cooked them too slowly. Love is fierce. You can’t stick it in the closet. If you can’t do the swoony sex thing you have to do something else. If you can’t do friendship, you still have to do something. If you can’t write you can always talk to yourself. Your strength may be gone but you’re left with courage.
I feel more like an immovable object than courageous, but I’d like to live up to Lao Tzu. “If you don’t change direction, you may end up where you’re heading.” And the worst is if you’re not heading anywhere.
Okay, here’s your poem
After Reading Lao Tzu
The one who speaks does not know.
The one who knows does not speak,
wrote the old master, which perhaps describes
the situation. Meaning we were all sad.
Meaning that when you were seized by desire,
it was nothing more than flesh, bared above the collarbone
she poured the long night of herself
into empty coffee cans and cornfields
and brushed by air. Meaning: It’s chemical. So
that when the moon rears its parched head,
her eyes a mask on her face, the livestock snorting and pacing,
her absent husband…she died young
when you feel a finger grazing your neck,
it’s only wind created by the movement of
her daughter crying and lighting
fires under the bed
your own body. Downdraft. Live
stock. Because sadness is multiplied
don’t worry, she told me,
you can’t inherit this
by sadness. A cradle of no compare.
Loose conspiracy of mind and body,
dough swelling over the edge of the bowl,
the yeasty smell of it, a disease that is
a blanket over the window
a pillow over the face
known and not spoken and
also the other one,
who speaks and does not know
what to say.
–-Amy Newlove Schroeder