When we stop distancing ourselves from the pain in the world, our own or others, we create the possibility of a new experience, one that often surprises because of how much joy, connection, or relief it yields. Destruction may continue, but humanity shines through.
We’re all traumatized by life, by its unpredictability, its randomness, its lack of regard for our
feelings, and the losses it brings. Each in our own way, we suffer. Even if nothing else goes
wrong -- and it’s rare that this is the case, old age, illness and death loom just over the
horizon like the monsters our children need us to protect them from in the night.
Ajahn Chah met with us after we share the monastery lunch. We asked him to explain the Buddhist view. What he had learned …. What could we bring back and share with the West?
Before saying a word, he motioned to glass by his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.”
What was he referring to exactly? The glass, the body, this life, the self? …
Ajahn Chah was modelling a different way of relating. We could use, appreciate, value, and respect the glass without expecting it to last. In fact, we could use it more freely, with more abandon, with more care …
I bypassed all the compromise,
The first ten problems of speech
And the latest, the sharpest, the contest,
Then began, having already fallen,
To rise just less, weaker than
My chore, yours, made else
By othering, by day by day,
The schedules, the routes, task
Whose claim I forgot to throw off,
Rising less but somewhat up anyway
With a kind of strength for having
Done so several times before.
I mean all times so far
Which is the taste of coffee gone
This latest one, and that it sticks
Like nothing else has ever done.
It isn’t a calamity so much
As a disaster that it’s not one.
Things already were real, are
Never just. Did not just get,
Can’t help being so. This
Massive ordinary cloud
Where I surrendered to
Filling out a form in the rain
That doesn’t come or does,
Sent down or kept in overplus
Till the next storm’s approved,
The face notified of its context,
The sequence continuing west
West I said west, turning up
To receive some all,
To celebrate that share of sense
Breaking into day then run
After it as through gray games
I plan to win by losing only
Every time but one, the next
To last or after that, though
What it’s called when it comes
I don’t, I do, pretend to know.
We can stick anything into the fog and make it look like a ghost. But tonight let us not become tragedies. We are not funeral homes with propane tanks in our windows lookin’ like cemeteries. Cemeteries are just the Earth’s way of not letting go. Let go. Tonight, poets, turn your ridiculous wrists so far backwards the razor blades in your pencil tips can’t get a good angle on all that beauty inside. Step into this with your airplane parts move forward and repeat after me with your heart: I no longer need you to fuck me as hard as I hated myself. Make love to me like you know I am better than the worst thing I ever did. Go slow. I’m new to this, but I have seen nearly every city from a rooftop without jumping. I have realized that the moon did not have to be full for us to love it, that we are not tragedies stranded here beneath it, that if my heart really broke every time I fell from love I’d be able to offer you confetti by now. But hearts don’t break, y’all, they bruise and get better. We were never tragedies. We were emergencies. You call 9 – 1 – 1. Tell them I’m havin’ a fantastic time.
“Most of the time, we're loved for what we can do rather than for who we are. It's not such a bad thing, being loved for what you can do.' 'But the other is better.' 'Better. I hate to say better, but it is. If someone loves you for what you can do then it's flattering, but why do you love them? If someone loves you for who you are then they have to know you, which means you have to know them.”
Women in particular seem most mutable, houses of infamous possibilities.... An almanac of his inconsistencies was not unthinkable. But these women, positively it was scarcely an exaggeration to say that four and twenty letters made no more and no more capricious variety of words in as many languages as they, their jigsaw souls, foisted on them that they might be damned, diversity of moods.
Sometimes he feels as though this old wound of his life had no intention of healing.
I am a prolific plagiarizer. These words are not my own, but they have struck me in one way or another. They come from all sorts of media, although most are poetry and prose.
Some of these are taken wildly out of context, some even purposefully. I have not read the bodies of work to which many of these snippets belong. Some are transcribed by myself and therefore might be imperfect copies of original works. I ruthlessly remove bits and pieces that don't suit my sensibilities. Translations may be mixed and incomplete.
I do not claim ownership over any of the words you read here. If I need to remove any content, please let me know. I do not aim to step on toes, only to share what I have come across.
Jessica is a very common name. In fact, it was the most common female name in the decade and country from which I hearken. An ordinary name for an ordinary girl, it almost makes me a modern everyman. Fitting. But I need differentiation, so you may call me Jessk. That's it.