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the mirror.

As the waxing crescent slips behind the curtain of another amethyst dawn, Apollo’s sphere shifts with a royal grace back to its cotton-lined azure throne. Burning arrows of light rush toward the frame of a singular window, first soliciting the corners where the guarding drapes become lazy, in hopes they won’t be so quickly reflected by the demeanor of the room.  Hands of a neglected alarm clock solemnly flag down the attention of another lifeless day, giving it permission to land into existence. Before I was forcibly removed from the premises of a greater realm, I was a dancer.

I was partnered only with swirls of versicolor light; perhaps they were natives of the dream galaxy. The name of the song that surrounded us while we waltzed through sheets of misty constellations escapes my memory, but the melody sometimes licks at my ears when the room is silent enough. I must have transitioned back and forth between this earthly reality and the more grandiose, quixotic one about three good times before my waking spirit finally got the best of my body. I am but a marionette of bones in the first hours of consciousness, and this particular morning is no different.

My exhausted half-corpse is summoned to its weary feet by a wintry chill in the room, a quietly invited guest of the window that should have been closed six hours prior. Before I have a chance to stand up straight, I am paused and pulled into a trance, stultified by the song of a neurotic robin on the other side of my wall. His incessant nagging only furthers the accumulation of dread in my mind. My attention quickly loosens from the grip of the torturous tune and refocuses on a slow escape from my shadow filled chamber.

Sliding stiffly toward the exit, I stare down at the dull manner in which my fragile fingers reached for the copper handle. It finally touches my palm; I clasp it and slowly seduce the decaying door ajar. 

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Distance is a relative concept.

I'm always fincinated by the idea of live boardcasting; how you're sitting here watching somebody miles away and you can see exactly every miniscule movement that they make, unedited, and uncensored. Like how this guy scratches the lowerside of his arm, and no matter how hard he tries to be courteous, the act itself still gives out a very casual aura. Thus, somehow you feel closer to the person then you two geographically are.

Yet in contrast, there's this thing called a faint kiss; you and your significant other both settle under the covers and before he goes to sleep he pecks you on the cheek, so slight that you feel as if he doesn't actually kiss you, that the tingling on your face is but a ghost of the real pasionate kiss he planted on your face so long ago you don't even remember when. And that phantom of a kiss, that is the kind of thing that hefts you up and throws you half way over the planet; that is the kind of thing that make the one-foot distance of bed between you two feel like an ocean of a dying love.

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time capsule - ii

listen, 

they’re going to tell you that you can’t do it, you won’t survive in the real world, you need to mature and think about a proper career, a way to make your spouse happy. sometimes, they will say if you don’t put an effort in your physical appearance, you’ll never have a spouse. that’s when you’ll remain calm and say, ‘fuck you’ with the warmest smile you can give a disheartener.

you know what you believe in, you know what you’re capable of and even if you don’t, you have the rest of your life to think about it, experiment. it’s never too late for anything and if anyone ever tells you that, just walk away.

negativity helps no one but the person making the negative statements, i think they get a sense of satisfaction when they put someone down (mentally).

don’t give anyone the chance to tell you who you are, what you’re supposed to do and what you’ll be in the future.

no one.

i’m not saying all people are jerks and you shouldn’t take advice from anyone. advice is great, advices guide us, help us make decisions even if we don’t really go for them, they give us options we might have never thought of, new ideas are nice. unless they confuse you more, confusion only makes you human.

inhale,

exhale,

inhale,

exhale..

remember to breathe.

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Love Is...

Someone I follow on Tumblr posted a video about love... and he says he doesn't believe love is entirely emotional. That at some point, you choose to continue loving a person because that "in love" feeling fades.


I entirely disagree.


Love is powerful. It's an emotion that rips worlds apart and bends time. It's what helps a mother lift a car off her child and what people fight for their entire lives. When love is real and true, nothing can break it. Nothing can damage it. There is nothing more unstoppable than two people in love. Not even the gods who control the very workings of fate can keep lovers apart.


If the creative force of the universe itself tried, it couldn't tear apart two people in love.


And the thing is... when you feel that? You know... And it doesn't go away. You may have times where it's just a nice, quiet hum in your chest. But you'll also have times where the force of it knocks you to your knees and makes you sob because it's just so damned beautiful.

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Forward Thinking: What Are Our Ethical Responsibilities When Shocking Public Violence Occurs?

Amid the outpouring of blogging that tried to make sense of the Boston Marathon bombing — the tiny core of solid reporting and its vast, coruscating aurora of bloviating punditry and reciprocal finger-pointing — the sanest post I read was Arthur Goldwag’s round-up of “ the people–also driven by personal demons and/or ideology–who are certain that they already know all there is to know.” Goldwag, of course, is a self-taught hate-ologist, a journalist who tracks and reports on the various hermetically-sealed worldviews that pollute public discourse (at their best) and spin out crazy people with grudges and weapons (at their worst.) And for the first part of the post, he catalogs the usual crop of conspiracy theories and predictions that hit the airwaves while doctors in Boston hospitals were still amputating limbs. (If you really want a scorecard to identify those players, go ahead and click on the link above.)

However, what made Goldwag’s post truly helpful, what moved it beyond the usual tuttuttery about “the echo-chamber of the internet and 24/7 news channels”, was his analysis of the ways we often try to squirm away from horrible truth. We find someone to blame — at worst, we blame the victim. We critique the performance of first responders. We decry some tendency of human nature, generally one that is conveniently unfixable. And we distinguish ourselves from the victim(s), pointing out that we are careful, sober, health-conscious, well-organized, ample insurance-carrying paragons of planning ahead.

Goldwag notes: 

All of it is true, none of it is crazy or hateful–but to me it’s revealing that so many people feel the need to broadcast those thoughts out loud. What they are saying, in effect, is that the world is still rational and meaningful, even if terrible things happen from time to time. There is always an explanation; there are never victims, only martyrs or fools, and someone is always to blame. It’s a spontaneous act of theodicy, as if they all want to let God off the hook–and/or to reassure themselves that they are too smart to ever be a victim themselves.

I’m not criticizing the tendency; I’m just noting it. Alex Jones wouldn’t have the megaphone or the resonance that he has if there wasn’t a little bit of him in all of us.

If we take care to distinguish ourselves from the victims, we are even more frantic in our efforts to distance ourselves from the perpetrators of violence. While I hate to pick on Andrew Sullivan, whose writing I admire and who is by no means the worst offender on this score, his series of posts on the subject “Of course it was jihad” pushed most of the buttons remaining in my addled brain. 

His argument is that Islam is warlike because the Prophet led armies, whereas Christianity is peaceful because the Christ of the gospels is a peacemaker. (Notice he says nothing at all of the Christ of Revelations.) Speaking as a Jew, I am always tempted to call for a pox on both those religions’ houses, though, taking history as a whole, I think Islam has been less sanguinary. One wonders if Sullivan has forgotten the Troubles in Northern Ireland or the attempted genocide by (Christian) Serbs in Bosnia, or if he feels that Christianity has completely matured in the past twenty years…

One can only imagine what the New Atheists are saying — I am too easily bored by repetition to follow most of those blogs.

Everyone — Russians, Chechens, Dagestanis, Kyrgystanis, and gods help our education system, even the Czech Republic — have distanced themselves from the Tsarnaev brothers. Cambridge doesn’t want to allow the elder brother to be buried, partly, I’ll admit, for practical reasons. Muslim clerics don’t want to assist with the funeral.

But here’s the problem. While Islam (or religion generally, or ethnic identity, or colonial oppression) may provide the rhetorical fig leaves, the basic psychological mechanism is the universal tendency called “vendetta”. Someone — often a young man whose life is going poorly — adopts the pain and sense of oppression of a group, and acts as self-appointed family hero, revolutionary, freedom fighter, or soldier of God. 

Although the “virus meme” metaphor is overused, I think of vendetta as a bit like shingles. The original infection may be an armed invasion by conquerers or colonizers, sparking an outbreak of resistance and revenge that can be compared to chickenpox. But while the original situation is eventually resolved, seeds of buried resentment build protective cysts in the culture and wait to infect susceptible people. 

Revenge and vendetta are not, at base, religious urges — they may be among the few human customs that pre-date religion. They are responsible for most of the most horrifying examples of inhumanity. A small initial injury can cause cascades of violence, with the level of violence rising from one incident to the next. It is in this context that the lex talionis — an eye (rather than a life or a village) for an eye — was a step forward for justice, despite our disdain for it today. Religions have generally condemned revenge, but have not been notably successful in preventing it.

Revenge is not usually strictly proportionate. “For every one of us you kill, we’ll kill 100 of you” is a pretty common sentiment. Worse, revenge is often taken against someone who is considered somehow equivalent to the original offender, meaning that it targets innocent people. If you doubt that this tendency still continues, ask yourself this: why, after 9/11, did Americans allow themselves to believe the justifications for going to war in Iraq? I submit that it was because immediate revenge was blocked in Tora Bora, but SOMEBODY had to suffer. 

All the bad characteristics of revenge are amplified in vendetta. Vendettas can continue for centuries — remember, for instance, that the Bosnian Serbs were “avenging” offenses that occurred about 800 years earlier. By definition, the perpetrators of the original offense are dead, so vendetta never proceeds against the actual offending parties. And one of the reliable human tendencies is to improve the technology of killing from one generation to the next. (If we are killing tens of people at a time with drone strikes, can’t we expect to see the poisoning of major municipal water supplies or the bombing of huge stadiums in reprisal, twenty or fifty years from now?)

I have a spiritual practice I use to try to avoid distancing myself from either victims or perpetrators of violence. It is a variation on the charnal ground meditations described in the Satipatthana Sutta. We don’t generally have charnal grounds today, but we do have plenty of examples of horrid violence, often with graphic images. I hold it to be a duty to engage with these situations, and their images.

When I am confronted with such things, I focus first on the victims. I remind myself that I am subject to death, subject to injury, subject to illness, subject to the loss of those I love, etc. Nothing separates me from the sufferings of the victims except circumstance. 

When I come to understand this — and practice does, in fact, wear down the barriers to recognizing the facts — then I have every motivation to do what I can to help. Can I help this victim? Can I help other people in similar circumstances? If there is something to be done, that it is possible for me to do, I go ahead and do it. If not, I resolve not to forget. (After all, it might become possible to do something later.)

The second step in my practice is equally important. If there is a perpetrator, I think carefully about them. I remind myself that I am not a fully-enlightened Buddha, and that, therefore, I am subject to delusion, to hatred, to greed. What separates me from the perpetrator is… circumstance. I am fortunate that I have not lived that person’s life. I am motivated to practice toward enlightenment (when I can truly be free of bad inclinations.)

Also, I remember that there is no fixed self, and no immutable character. Yes, there are people genetecially lacking some of the important elements of morality, as psychopaths are lacking empathy. But for the most part, people’s character and moral choices are products of both individual tendencies and cultural norms. (If you doubt that a rotten culture can destroy the morals of ordinary people, I direct you to the scientific work of Philip Zimbardo.) For that reason, I have to do what I can to contribute to a healthy, humane culture.

Obviously, I am not advocating for specifically Buddhist practices. But I offer this example because it is one way of addressing what I feel is our main duty, not only in the aftermath of violence, but at every moment — resisting the tendency to squirm away from unpleasant truth.

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Shades of Sleep

Sleep....

That bloody handmaiden with toiling fingers....

heartlessly black and unholy.

A miscreated changeling fouling screams...

my screams.

Those never heard.

 

A clutch to life held by will alone.

 

Strange glimmers

revealing unearthly collusions of scent and sound....

of harm and every threat.

 

Destroyed and devoured by a thousand claws.

Ripping and tearing and grinning....

Always grinning.

 

The telling of the fall.

My fall....

from hope, home, love...

Into the obliterated cavity of

my own grave.

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The Grey Sweatshirt

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His Muse

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How I Learned to Hate

I never understood how people got angry. As far back as I can remember, the whole concept eluded me. I never grasped how someone could get so pissed off, that they started to shout, that they turned to violence or malice or hatred. How they tore down something that they themselves had created in a moment of pure rage.

I would stand alone and wonder how everyone else worked, what process they went through to arrive at the point where this was the only answer, lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling and thinking that I was different, incapable of feeling such intense emotion, like a robot, a clinical, sterile alien, devoid of sensation. Until I met you. 

You tried your best to prise it out of me. I tried just as hard to hold it back. Every tear you shed was a crowbar into my psyche, a bloodied hand that made to wrench my emotions free, and bit by bit, everything I had grown up with started to fall apart. You told me once that I was distant and aloof. You said talking to me was like trying to talk to someone in another room, but the night I left you, the night you asked me if I had ever loved you, we were fourteen hundred miles apart and I could have been standing right next to you.

The truth is I never loved you. At first I loved what you stood for, soon I loved what you had to offer, but after we had gone our separate ways I realised what I loved about you was what you did to me. You set me free. You cut my heart out with a blunt knife and let me feel pain like I never had before, and it made me so acutely aware that for the first time in my life I could feel hurt, feel hate, feel emotion, and it felt so good.   

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Voicemails I should have sent

BEEP. Hey. It’s me. I’ve been drinking a little so I might, you know, mess this up a bit, but I’ve got to get this out before the pills push the black back into my eyes and I forget about the shapes words make. It’s been years and years without your face and even longer without your voice and I’m starting to lose myself in the feeling of your hips piecing into mines and the fault lines of stretch marks lining the skin beneath your ribcage, the way we pressed together like fingerprints against fingers and I’d kiss the cold from your forehead with lips too cracked to speak, too little to say and never knowing what to say, I was always fumbling over myself. Even now, always fumbling. This is wrong. I meant to say that this is stupid, so stupid and so fragile and just fragments of fragments, the memories all shredded and segmented and pieced back together in strips with salvia and fingertips. I guess I’m hoping you can hear me where you are, if I can stretch my words through these telephone wires and over the cities and oceans lying between us that I can somehow reach the cupped and quiet spaces that are sitting dormant in your heart, but I don’t know… It’s been six long years without your fingers against my face.
And my bones feel bare without you.
Please pick up the phone. 
BEEP.

BEEP.
Humans have something like fifty thousand miles of blood vessels running through their bodies, and the vena casa… I mean the vena cava, is the largest vein in the body, helps carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart. That’s just some bullshit I picked up from a documentary I saw earlier, but all that to say that I know there’s more than just oceans and cities between us. We’re separated by miles of things we cannot see, ventricles and cells and the tiny things that move us, swim through us. I couldn’t touch you with my words if I tried any less than I could pry you into pieces with my fingers. I’m choking on nostalgia and all the things I should have said and my palms are too wide and too bloodless.
BEEP.

BEEP.
Ignore the last five. I think it was the rum and coke talking. I didn’t have that much but I’ve swallowed enough pills to say things I don’t mean and I… I don’t really think that, about you. What I said before in message number six, or eight. Wherever the hell I am now. I can’t find my way back to my thoughts and I’m feeling like a taxidermists ripped me open and filled me with things all nebulous and shapeless and slow. I’m fading but I don’t want to leave you yet because I still haven’t told you that your face is the only thing I’ve wanted these past few years and that I remember stupid little things like the way your skin felt against mines and when your lips against my throat was the only prayer that I ever needed to hear, or could even make sense of. 
BEEP.

BEEP.
One more thing before I collapse into myself. I got the tv on down the hall and I can hear voices crawling up the stairs but its okay, because this is not the night for crying and sad music, whatever. Tonight I need voices like people need heartbeats and places to rest the feelings pooling out of their lungs. I was afraid when I called but I’m not afraid now, mostly because I’m thinking the pills have that affect, or something. I won’t remember this in the morning and probably not for the rest of my life, because I think I took too many and I can feel the rushing of words beneath my skin like whispers but I’m not afraid at all, because it doesn’t feel too bad and there’s nothing to fear except for fear itself.
The line that’s a line that’s a circle.
BEEP.