Saturday, May 23, 2009

One foot in this strange world, one foot in another even stranger world.

Isn't that a mysterious, unsettling place to live?

Although it's possible to find a wild serenity
in the most insecure of circumstances.

For example, I've been reading Kafka again lately,
which can be a dangerous thing to do
because it causes me to see things in a way
that doesn't help me fit in at all.

Have you read "Bartleby the Scrivener,"
a story by Melville? It's about a man who
suddenly "prefers" to not do anything. Why
is such a small quiet story so compelling, so

Or "The Hunger Artist," a story by
Kafka, about a man who dies unnoticed
next to a caged & prowling panther that
captivates the crowd.

Those are not happy stories, but they awaken
something in me that knows this world is
incurably strange. Knowing that others
(others as finely tuned as Kafka & Melville)
see a similarly odd world is itself is a kind of
happiness, oddly.

The way most people view this world and our place in it is
not quite right, not quite true. Something's
missing. Many people leave something out,
or won't or can't take that one step back and one step
to the side
which changes everything, brings everything
into vivid focus, but more mysterious than ever.

I went through a lot of relationships
until I stumbled miraculously into the one I'm in now.
I could say all those other relationships
crashed and burned, or fizzled, but
I believe that nothing in love is wasted.
Graduated from the University of Broken Hearts
& Bungled Opportunities. I wouldn't have been ready
for this if I hadn't been squeezed through the eyes of the needles
of the others first, painful and maddening and shameful
as they felt when they went bad,
when I did my large part to make them go bad.

That's what I gather, that in the midst of the alien
world a natural
process is gliding & grinding away--in relationships,
work, writing, learning to
love, simplifying, dying--sometimes with the horrible things
that happen in nature, and behind the scenes
the supernatural story rolling along
whether I know it or like it or believe it or not.

Not a good written word is wasted either.
This is how foolish I am--
I believe, for example, that the plays I've written
that haven't been performed
will be performed in Heaven,
and I'll cast every part just the way I
want for once.

Oh, reason is a wonderful thing,
like an ocean liner,
but when you get to the shore, it can make locomotion
very clumsy if you try to take the ocean liner with you
as you navigate the new medium, land.

After a certain point, there more reasonable
means of mindfulness than reason, more
perceptive, flexible, trustworthy, lighter
to take with me in that little rucksack as the road
on the shore begins rolling inland.

So, all I am saying is, tonight I met a man
who has been in 20 mental hospitals.
He was very hard to talk to
because he was all over the lot. I couldn't
get my bearings, because if things had gone just a
degree different here or there I could have easily been him.
When he twice started to talk about shame the tears
just rolled down
his face both times and he started to walk away
but I wouldn't let him,
because that was all I could do.
I asked him if he could pray, and he said
he was too ashamed. He was ashamed because he
had done many awful things
that were bad for himself and others, and the
thought of facing God in prayer shone a light on his shame
and he couldn't
stand it.

I remember reading in a gnostic gospel (Thomas?) something
about how when I feel that I'm farthest
from God, that that is when I'm
most near God of all.
How when I feel that God could not possibly want
anything to do with me because I am
a loser & a liar & a fraud & mean & a failure
& I feel I've wasted my talent, my love
& my life & there is not
a selfless cell or thought in my body, and I could not
possibly pray or have hope
because of my shame--it's then that I'm primed for God
& all I have to do is let my soul lead me for one moment & I'm
there & I know we're all in the same boat, headed
for shore.

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