But all my tangents about art, you know, Doctor, they could be viewed as little more than an attempt to rationalize a central condition. A field of excuses, so that I wander and never address the issue. And no matter what I read or practice about avoiding negative thoughts and dwelling on the past I... well, I do. Because when you make such a big mistake, a series of errors and bad choices and dumb actions one should be ashamed of, you see every day the moments of them, like they haunt you. And because of my faults there was the perfect college love story that we all want to happen, and because it didn't happen, well, everyone becomes alienated. People drop out of sight, hide, as if they too were shamed. All the ironies add up, the particular talents you saw in another come forth, and there you are, there I am, being stupid, with little faith, without much courage, even though I stuck with it through a fair amount of persecution.
But because of, maybe, like what I experienced growing up, am I incapable of love, in believing in it enough to partake and receive? Do I tend to question it, think that the woman is always going to blow up and scream at the guy? Do I have this pattern in my head that says the guy will be, like, long suffering... Is that what I internalized, saw, as they say about these childhood matters, saw as love? Well, the girl would certainly blow up at me, or be dismissive... Maybe that's what made me think, 'oh, surely this must be it, love, the parental relationship...' And when she'd be harsh to me, as her part of the back & forth, an extension of the flirting into a deeper kind of teasing, right after that, when I had an opening, I would sort of nobly and sadly or sternly retreat, perhaps like my father would, like going to lie down and take a long nap when it was too much for him. Her being high-handed. Me with the legacy of pain. That would be sort of recalled. And I'd be silent and noble and long-suffering, but that, ha ha ha, doesn't really do it for an Upper West Side beauty on the way up into her own sophisticated life. That's not engaging enough, not bold enough.
But the love was there, and I guess the ways I'd express it were subtle, or marked by that sort of passivity, like bringing her flowers at the very end of each year, as to say, you can do all you want but you can't change that, the way I... you know, like, feel about you. Again, the long-suffering. I tried to engage, but she'd always reject the first time round in each episode, and then the door would be more open, because she could see the way I reacted, like the frog in my throat, the things that show deeper feelings in a way you can't fake...
Well, well. Who could expect a young lady to go through such a disaster and want any more part of it? Who would want to think of the light that failed, of the sweet things that should have happened in world of ideal and romantic love? Who would want to recall that? You'd rather want to block it all out, any reference, the recalling of an unhappy event, a car wreck. Much in the way the book you gave me says. "Okay, mind, thanks for reminding me, but I'm not going to go there as I have positive things to be doing."
So I seem to live in a world where love really isn't possible. Not for me personally, no princess to come and save me. And I give my kindness to the rest of the world, to strangers, to people who aren't family, as that too is part of the long-suffering quality.
If she'd been nice to me, and welcoming, I could have taken to that, I would have responded. Maybe it all wouldn't have been such a problem. As it was I saw too much of the rejection and not enough of the light of her truer self that came through. I mean, I have enough emotional intelligence to be able to read people.
But if you don't have that kind of love it's really hard to do anything in the world. What does it mean to go teach a bunch of someone else's teenagers? What does it mean to go help people in hospitals so they don't get sicker and die, just puts off the loveless inevitable. I've ended up a cold and sentimental observer. Who waits on couples on Valentine's Day and Christmas, then goes home to... what? A cat. Except the cat's dead.
Yes, rejection hurts. As Jesus says, no one is a prophet in his home town. So is it written.
How do you rise above such a great existential joke, one you've brought about through your own faults?
I guess you can only find it in impersonal things, like Jesus, or Buddha, or mediation. But how far can you rise above the basic frustrated need or the time in young life when everything went wrong? That's why poor people turn to drugs and stuff, because they don't get enough love and affection, so they turn to artificial proximation. Maybe art is a similar thing. Like Van Gogh never had a girlfriend, and so he turned to this painting stuff, an animist in nature trying to evoke something out of the landscape, a process which wore him out, dried his heart out. A maker of Japanese prints.
Yeah, turn to Jesus, do your yoga, awake your own Lazarus from the dead. I guess there's all sort of things you can do. Stay positive. Count your blessings. Be happy where you are. Yeah.
But you know, I wonder, I mean, good to talk all these things out. But you can over psychologize. You can take the random things that happen in life, not all of them happy, and try to trace them back to something, make too much of a few things, a few proclivities. Which leaves you more depressed than when you started. What are you going to do? You had parents and they loved you very much, and luckily one of them is still very much alive.
It's depression which makes you depressed. So yeah, just try your best to avoid it.
And maybe, you know, maybe there is something about Jesus being right. He has to bear all this stuff from the faithless parts of humanity, the cold loveless skeptic parts, the selfish parts, the got-it-all-made thank you very much types, the territorial sanctimonious types, the blame other people types, the people who don't give a damn about the fate of strangers... The ones who don't see their own selves in the lives of others.
I left her office pondering how broad, how deep the spiritual life passed on in the Christian story and the like must be to fit in my own problems, my own sense of things of how life is, the things you must go through, the way you end up. A man in a church gown might be largely psychologically clueless, belonging to a church out of some knee jerk reaction, but there deep deep reasons why such stories resonate with us. Why they hold a transcendent truth, one that eases considerably our own individual pains. And if you find within your own life the concurrent roots of the Christian story, or the Buddhist one, or what-have-you, if you find something sympathetic, well, that is very interesting work to be doing, as if attending to the leper within your own self, your own dead Lazarus. Yes, faith is a good thing, and it happens out of such reasons, when you're broken down, not left with much else. And to have faith is itself the ability to love, and as long as you have that you can't be too far down on yourself.
And again, I felt like I was a Huck who had a Jim, big and comforting and warm, a real live person, to accompany him in his long lonesome voyage down the big river.
And maybe the stupid of us, the seeming fools, who one should think would know better, like how to purport themselves as rational responsible adults are in a way the smartest, least full of guile and trickery, therefore open to the wisdom beyond human design.
Maybe it is that city life, that modern life, with all the choices we have open for us, with the habit that we must choose intelligently and carefully, maybe all that dampens down a life of faith, the sense of the spiritual. Because if you're not happy, well, look somewhere else, do something else, go somewhere and buy something, rather than examining all things at a deeper level.
But I gather it all, all I'd been through, were a part a writer's struggle, if you'd call it that. The long effort to work at it, maybe to get better at it. A mix bag, mixed results, but on top of that you achieve something, namely the steady effort. Maybe that effort lets you see things beyond what you might have initially saw as the top of the hill to climb. A sense of a journey, of a climb beyond, especially when nothing in particular happened when you reached the summit of the first hill. You wrote a book, or what you called a book, and people said, fine, okay, write another one. That was more the point, the larger hill you now had to climb, both looking back and enduring the fact that you were a writer, looking for the meaning in that act of being one. No great journey is ever easy, they say. And there are sad lonesome parts of it, parts of being lost out in a desert way out of contact with people. Searching for meaning. Looking for a way.
I'm a writer. My kingdom is not of this world.