Sunday, May 31, 2015

I get my meditations in, do my yoga routine, send a text to my sister-in-law if I might go over to Georgetown to visit the kiddies and the dog, and, since they are busy, I take a walking meditation down to the Whole Foods.  My mind is awakened, in a non-judgmental state.  Taking things in as I go through my list.

And then $140 later I'm walking home with two bags, taking periodic sips from the carrot juice and enjoying the light of late afternoon and the greenery of DC.  Dupont Circle is golden and the leaves are out in full now, fresh under the blue sky.  In to the wine shop, with that awkward friendliness, and then the last few blocks, appropriately up the busy avenue then turning off to progressively quieter streets.

I get a text from my traveling friend.  'What are up to?  I'm thinking of going out.'  After the long lug of twelve blocks I lean back with a book my therapist recommended, Darren Main's Yoga and the path of the Urban Mystic, and tune out for a while, drifting off after putting the book down for a little meditation.  I wake up to the urrhhn..., urrhhn..., urrhnn..., urrhhn.., my iPhone vibrating like a buried trombone on the glass (of some sort) top of my Ikea coffee table.  It stops ringing, I check it, and then there's a voicemail.  "I'm in your 'hood, heading up to Petworth.  Let me know if you feel like grabbing a beer."  It is a beautiful night, and surely there are girls, young women, not so young women, fine people, out and about on a Saturday night in old DC.

But I rest on my spiritual insights of the day.  And with a twinge of some guilt, I remain on the couch and pick up my book again.  Good stuff.  I read about how we have two reactions to things, avoidance or desire.  The ego makes it seem a lot more complicated than that, making us get up and chase after whatever it is.  And as I read, I'm good with my decision to stay put.  It's a good night to do some homework, why?, because it is the present moment I must make good use of, and to put the ego away and to reach down past all the shoulds and shouldn'ts and reactions to the things of the world, as we do in meditation is a very good thing.  I read one page, and then another, and then another, and I find it all really interesting, savoring slowly and thoughtfully as I have been all along.  I'm getting near the end in fact.  On I read, feeling a certain growing sense of self-satisfaction for having, at least once in my life, said no, get thee behind me, to Satan.  Yup, that's how it feels.

I rise and do a little bit more yoga.  I've never done a locust, so, after googling up an image of it, voila, here you go.  And I've also been lazy about what turn out to be moon salutations, so I do the basic version, and yes, I've forgotten earlier to do my triangles, so that too.  And then I meditate, first in full lotus, and then in corpse.  Each chakra, breathe in, breathe out.   Feel the alignment, making little adjustments.  There doesn't quite seem to be the same spiritual energy as earlier, before the different little distractions and dealings, but it still helps tame the monkey mind.  And yes, one must find happiness and contentment and peace within, in the deeper levels of consciousness.

Ah well, nothing fantastic happens.  The incense I let doesn't seem to be transporting or transforming or enabling the powers of levitation, but, slowly, step by step, like the book probably says, you try.  And I can tell, this kind of a Saturday night, as if at last, lived in the present, lived through the interior and not the exterior, is a good thing.

Eventually, the monkey caves in, and says, I think it's time for a glass of wine. Okay.  I've got a chilled bottle of reliable Bouchard Aîné & Fils 2013 pinot noir and it even as a screwtop for easy access.  There's Jimmy Fallon with u2 in disguise in a New York subway station playing "I Sttill Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," so I break out the guitar to catch that Edge sound.  Would that one could sing like Bono, so, well, anther glass is poured.  And having put a few things up on Facebook, which then necessitates putting more stuff up on Facebook, that sort of bubbling in the back of my sermonizing mind, eventually, at about 2 AM I get in touch with an old friend, a guy I've always been able to communicate with almost telepathically.  He's a writer when he can be, a novel set in Romania during WWII; an excellent haberdasher, and he's made suits for Biden sons, shaken by the news of the loss at age 46 the man.  It's been a long time since we spoke.  Talk resembling that of an Irish wake.

I wake with the familiar finished the bottle feeling, and today it's back to work, so I get up and hydrate and observe the body's feelings, now empowered to do so.  Not only have I accepted my long since childhood fascination with the root chakra, a gathering point for the energy of the universes strengthened by Margo Anand's good book The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, a treatise on tantric sexuality and appropriate exercises--natural as it is for the creature to be fascinated by his/her own naked body and what it might tell the spirit, but I am now better able to make note of the body's real reactions, taking them apart, feeling them bit by bit in the different spaces in the body.  (Accepting this kind of sexuality enables one to effectively 'kill two birds with one stone,' ecstasy and enlightenment, power channeled through the core, energizing wherever it goes.)  Green tea, water with lemon, risen, I'm soon feeling almost back to normal, still quite a mortal.

But it's good to say no to Satan and all the biddings of the ego to go looking for noble things outside. It is empowering, energizing.  It is a boon for the confused ones like myself looking for a better way.  It's hard, it's tricky, to say no.  Loyalties from old work fables crop up.  But as my mom says, 'you don't owe him anything.'  Despite a bit of sin, I feel okay, and now time for some quick yoga before my own Monday morning.

The point I made, about Ernest Hemingway's state of prayer, made in a class a longtime ago, for Benjamin DeMott's Contemporary Cultural Criticism, which I have portrayed in the last chapter of A Hero For Our Time, was actually, now I see, a very subtle and profound point, a shift necessary when we speak of things like contemporary culture and the messages that are being sent in particular language.  And at the end of the day, we do have powers, great powers at hand, to change the way we think.  And this is what an artist does.

Hemingway was a shy man, and one able to step out of society, even after revel.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The last three wines, a 2011 Fleurie from DeBouef, a 2011 Cadet D'Oc pinot noir from Rothschild, both disappointments, and the Pinot from WineBow corked, taken more for medicine and for energies toward housekeeping, over the last two evenings let-downs.  Saved by Jeffrey Wright's performance in Cadillac Records.  Just something very human about him, a man who has lived, with broad shoulders.

Friday happy hour I gather the groceries and then sit outside reading my blog on my phone as people drink beer and snack and young families come and go.  What is the secret of being normal, to having places to go?

But the reality is that we are spiritual beings, that the Ego is illusion, that a separate self is an illusion, and we all must one day come home to this reality, that life cannot be lived selfishly.   It's only that some of us, through whatever practice, are more advanced, more open to it than others.

Jesus speaks from experience when he tells us about the concerns of the propertied wealthy man and his ensuing chances of getting it.  And we know it is not easy to be so unconcerned, as we imagine Jesus is, with material things, financial security, etc.  No, it is very hard and worrisome to be so.  So there must be rewards.  We may well imagine, just as easily as anything else, that Jesus was a practitioner of high Tantric sex, and we might even wonder how he would define sin as to the woman taken adultery.  Yes, he does tell her, go and sin no more, but what is the sin?  One interpretation could be that her sin is for not exploring the Tantric possibility, of rising the energy up from the earthy low chakra, through the procreative, up through the appetite's discernment, up through the emotional seat, then to the expressive seat, and then finally to the all seeing hidden third eye where wisdom and insight resides perfectly.  The first chakra, open, reveals the abundance of the world's offerings.  There is no shortage of pleasure when the first chakra is openly involved, and if the yogi makes the typical mistake as his breath rises, which happens, there is no need to worry and angst if he just made the yogini pregnant, soon with another mouth to feed.  The energy is not sidetracked from the spiritual to the societal measure of how many kids you can afford, how many to bring into the world, but rather, bring the message into the world.  "Bear with me," the practitioner must originally ask, awakening the serpent, the Shakti consort of Shiva.  Mary Magdalene washes his feet, anoints him.  Uh oh.  And she is paying attention to the perfect things.

Undisturbed, we have the greatest of high potential.  We take naturally to that most passive of actions, prayer, real honest prayer.  And all his work leaves Jesus open, open to the possibilities, the possibilities of even trying his hand at a few miraculous things, water into wine, healings, dispatching of unclean spirits, draughts of fish.  What do we see here but imagination, pure, clean, simple.

It is no wonder that the church bearing his name and keeping his sacrament of bread and wine would in the modern age come to have a problem, a great unhealthiness, perhaps brought on by the sins of materialistic thinking, hoarding riches and power.  That church would have the problem of its poor relationship with the Tantric, with Kundalini, with the low chakra.  It would be a haven of men naturally drawn to anal pleasure by their own chemistry and build-up, and nothing wrong with that.  But of course, the inability to accept, to speak, to engage, to look for the deeper meanings of the spiritual experience led to the most terrible of things, pedophilia.  The great misuse, the horrible abuse, of what potentially is the highest spirit.  Then on top of that the sins of empire itself, taxation, intimidation, secrecy, lies, the most horrible forms of denial, legal teams.

Thus it is that behind its conspicuous majesty, which one easily imagines Jesus wanting little to do with, not feeling the need beyond a simple place of worship, a river bank, a fisherman's hut beside a lake, a humble abode being fine with him as a place of practice.  And in a church, in a chapel like one for good humble St. Anthony, you wish there'd be a reference to the seven chakras and the Buddha's calm, to the root of all things, sly or not, still explainable to Jesus' favorite people, the children.  A yogi on hand for consultation and yoga mats.  Just as the Cross is a reference to the older Tree of Life prevalent in world religions.  It might be worth noting that the central depiction of him is that of a virtually naked person stretched out revealingly.  Why not take with us a happier picture, one's from our own experience as nearly naked people, having fun, enjoying the body?

Jesus to many people was a walking taboo.  And maybe he still is, to a society that doesn't want to go there.

What can you do?  Insights come to the non-conventional, and conventional can be described in different ways, amongst them the fuck, cum, smoke a cigarette kind of sexual experience not particularly prolonged.

Jesus was a wine-drinker.  Perfect self-control was not a necessary thing to him, no more than you or I.  He got the pleasurable social aspect that calls for wine in God's celebration of human doings and marriages.

Insights come.  What do you do with them?  You're not, by nature, interested in personal gain through them.  You're not some Martha Stewart empire (not that there's much wrong with her) of retail spiritual insight monetized and available at Kmart.  You just wish to share clean good health.

Does it take a therapist to change your attitude toward your own ability for spiritual insight?  Can you move from that awkward feeling you get when asked 'what have you been up to' by a serious person. "Uhm, err, I have been kind of like writing down, in a sort of diary these, uhh, I dunno, spiritual insights, I guess you'd call them.'  Make the joke of how Jesus must have been Irish Catholic, hanging out with drinking buddies all day, an unemployed carpenter.  But Jesus, obviously, is perfectly fine with it, a habit from his childhood, no one to stand in his way.  At his father's business.   Cool with it. Comfortable with himself.

It's almost as if you have to go through a depression, for the foundation to be dug down so it stands on bedrock.

How outlandish he might have appeared to the city, the material beast.  No wonder he is pictured as turning things upside-down.  Completely outlandish fellow, completely unconventional, but also compelling.  Pleasurable.  Arrived to teach whatever he had to teach.  Calm.

Reading between the lines, the Disciples were gentlemen.  They allowed Jesus to be Jesus, to be himself.  The typical co-worker older brother skepticism is not there.  No 'you sure about that?'  No 'you're crazy.'  No 'are you gay, stupid, broke, living on borrowed time...'

Friday, May 29, 2015

Well, we'd gotten through the night and were cleaning up, a private party, a college classmate's fiftieth birthday thrown by her husband, thirty or so, and a gyspy swing band in the corner.  A pleasant crowd really, and happy with what we served them, dinner buffet style.  My back is turned from the bar, putting things away into the cooler, the juices, moving around the mineral water, the sour mix, the white wines into the ice bin, a few checks left to close still, the bass player having skipped out on paying for his salad, before the report is printed and the paperwork from the night's sales and tips to do.  I hear a little feminine pitch voice behind me, hi, hello.  Oh, crap, who left the door unlocked.

The night had just ended nicely, with a good little cheers to my old college classmate Linda who's known her man since they were sixteen back in Rhode Island.  The boss smiled sociably, and compliments and what a nice party are exchanged.

I sigh quietly and turn around, just as we'd gotten everyone out of here, one person, who I just kind of look at.  Oh.  Hi.  Her greeting rings in my mind for an instant.  One of our late night friends who drops by really just to talk.  She asks if she can smoke a cigarette.  No, I tell her.  I'll just go and smoke by the open window.  She has two salads from King George's down the street and believes they are bad.  She tried to get them to take one of them back.  "They smell.  Do you think they are bad?"  I look over at the styrofoam container and shrug.  "They would not take them back.  Assholes.  'Come back with me,' no I'm not going to go back with you." She looks at me.  "Do you want one?"

"Do you have any fresh squeezed juice?  Oh, I've been drinking too much, and smoking too much.  Too much, really.  I don't know...  Look, here is my video from karaoke, at the Russian place.  I am so drunk I am just yelling, ha ha ha."  I pour myself a little pinot noir, tread down the steps and lock the door.  Where there is one there may be more.  "Take it easy, tiger," the busman says to me, with a verbal wink.  "Oh, yeah, man."

She goes over into the corner, by the window overlooking the street.  I can smell her cigarette, that particular metallic chemical smell.  Jesus Christ.

She likes to walk up the street after coming from Georgetown around midnight.  She walks in the light pink flip-flops from nail salons.  They are very comfortable.  She wears lycra tights and her figure is something the men driving up and down Wisconsin with windows down at this hour will stare at.  Her father was an artist, a painter.

"Are you on Facebook?"  No, I say, half-heartedly.  I remember now reading a quick email from my mom asking her advice about a query for the well-read principal of the Catholic school where two of my guys went.  Yes, I went on too long, and tomorrow I will face cutting it.  I made the mistake of saying hi to her the other night just as I was leaving work on my bicycle.  Sometimes you want a quick friendly chat, and then sometimes you don't.  I ended up walking her up the hill to the front door of her building across from the CVS above the late night pizza hookah place, a basement level bar with pool tables dangerously close and with old friends about.  She took out her pack of Capris.  No, I don't smoke anymore.  I never really did.

I forget, was it one night with the inimitable Mr. Tappy enjoying his after dinner 25 year old Calvados--he'd shared some of his St. Julien with me as he related the histories of colorful gay bars with names like "The Ramrod" and "The Gloryhole"--with the window open that we were foolish enough to call out the window when she happened to be passing by, her tastes running toward the sweet sparkling pink wine we have from the Savoie.  Those seem like older days now.

It's that point in the night where you have put some things away but there are still things to put away. And the washing machine still you are loading it, pressing the button to run it through, then opening the front down and pulling the rack out, wiping the glassware dry, hanging the neoprene mat and the rubber bar mats that say Campari and Remy Martin, red and black respectively, fidgeting the bottles, somewhat proud of yourself that you called the party right as far as the number of bottles of Sancerre and Corbieres you'd lugged up from the wine cave in the basement at the long-ago beginning of the night, and checkout, you still need to do checkout.  She is looking through my Facebook page.  Who is this?  "That's my sister-in-law," I say, feeling vaguely violated, a sucker, caught up in it now, whatever it is.  "Look at this."  She shows me--I lean over the bar, having just cleaned the rail liquor well with its bottles-a picture of a house with a glass-walled bedroom suspended over a cliff, then two versions of "Happy Birthday" one with candles and balloons, and then a picture of a woman's hips and legs with red glittery stuff covering her privacy.  Do you like?  Look at this one.  Which do you like better?  The second one shows the legs of a couple shot from under the table, with her panties slid down but now showing anything beyond that.  What?  Nothing.

More about the salad saga.  And then about something happening down in Georgetown, three young males taking over the sidewalk but fortunately a man with a briefcase behind her and a couple walking a dog as the young man gestured wildly with their walk.  "It's like they think they own the city."  Dumbarton Street is blocked off by police, and a lady comes out and tells her there was a break-in and she shouldn't be out walking the dark streets at this hour.  And she'll have to go up further to get to Wisconsin.

Later on after I'm finally done--energy levels drop quickly at this hour--and changed into my clothes, she is still concerned about the safety of walking at night.  "What kind of fruit is really healthy," she asks, inhaling from another cigarette by the open window.  "Oh, figs, plums.  Dark fruits with all those antioxidants and stuff.  Berries.  Nothing too acidic."  Just ride it out.  Almost done.  Hide the inner gloom, the sense of being set upon by the less-than-centered, that their drama might have a stage.

We get out the door.  I've already gotten by bike up from the basement.  She wants to go to Safeway and get some blueberries.  Then I can ride home.  She brings up the horrible murder that happened recently not far away from the VP's house.  We cross the street.  "Will you wait for me?"  I almost say no.  "Be quick about it."  I slump down on the bench by the lit entrance and look at my phone.  And then, finally, we are up the sidewalk and standing in front of the glass doors near the wine shop.  There is a little yoga studio storefront crammed in.  I peek in through the dark windows.  "What is chakras?" she asks.  I explain, energy centers through the body running up the spine that need to be balanced, opened up through all these poses so that life's breath flows.  Yoga will make you quit smoking.  "And what is this word, namaste?"  That means I salute the god, or goddess, within you, within all of us.  She looks out of her Russian face, her eyes looking out from under bangs and prominent brow, taking things in. Yoga is good stuff.  There are no errant desires, no feelings within of anything but wanting to be fair, to teach what you can, help out where you can, but know your limits.  Peace, that's all you want out of anything, really.

And now, I can go.  Mounting the Bianchi, up past the dangerous bar at the dangerous hour--their patio is quite full now at 1:25 AM--past the sushi bar, the strip club and the bars on the other side of the street where I see behind the cars my old friend Herb strutting slowly with Redskins jersey and a cap on, and I keep on and make a right, cross by the Finnish Embassy and glide down the hill with all my lights on, careful for deer.

"Tadzio," I remember Madam Korbonski telling me, "write about the street," she would say, with a  little chuckle at something concerning me.  She meant the little street she lived on, its history of generals and her parties and the sagas of different neighbors, the old cat who'd show up for handouts. But that of course was what she knew, and could write about if she felt like it on her old typewriter, and any street will do, but I just know too much, or rather have spent too much time, working to pay rent overlooking another one and all its wanderers and passers by.  Tragic in a way, all those years.

When you heal your life some, you change a bit.  You don't want the things that passed you by anymore.  You're okay with things.  You do yoga and meditate, aware of a great spiritual life within.  Centered, you're happy, not wanting much, almost, almost a simple mountain monk, at least for as long as you can get away with it.

But then, now that you are here, what do you do? What do you do with your life?  Where do you go? Where will you end up?

In the meantime there is the street, and also the distance from it.  The first night off, there is a bottle of wine with dinner, home, alone, and the day was good because you did some good yoga and you also got out for a nice long walk in the woods by the stream.

And today, there is, again, the need for calm.  Calm to figure out life.

To be a writer is to commit some basic social blunder.  Well, it's not completely a blunder, but it sets you apart, or rather, it aims you toward a certain way of life, one different from the typical householder described in Buddhist tales.  I mean, you're still quite capable of living a normal life, but that it is a life different from normal expectations.  Normal expectations are like a layer you have to peel off.  You peel away the layers of vague expectations you know not from where they came and see how things, like relationships, really are.  You really do see a crazy connectedness of things.  You sense the calm celestial presence within.  It can make you a very private person, finding a lot of lives led in strange ways, even as you really do wonder what you are doing with your own.

The good news is that the basic yoga ethos really works, or can work, if anyone wanted to join you.  And then you'd see that that thing that most centrally concerns our minds and bodies is best handled, indeed, in a Tantric fashion, and that this fact of high enjoyment leads us too to realize the flow of life through the Universe and beyond that its own principal task of healing itself through finding the appropriate in all things.  Not so far removed from our native state as animals, even when we are being polite, we do not always immediately know what is appropriate and what is not, and anyway, these are matters of personal explorations that must be made.  And a therapist might still prove to be very useful.

But writing and yoga really do seem to go hand in hand.  Going into each pose one beams, if you will, the breath and energy into each chakra energy center, in effect asking that particular one to help you align your body into the pose.  Each chakra offers a better way to bring the spinal core into the pose, and when you go through each one of the seven main, from bottom up to top and back down and back up again, then you're well situated in the pose given what your abilities are.  And then, even as the body might tremble from its own weight, there is that light inner core that would seem to, if it needed to, be able to move at the speed of light, something like that.

And when you write, that too is really to be okay with things, to ask within of your own opinions, your gut feeling, your native animal intelligence, and this element of self, perhaps it too has chakras or can reside in the same.  And the basic questions are always hovering around a writer:  what to do about the sexual instinct, what to do about feeing yourself, what to do about using your intellect, how to do you say things, to whom do you say them to, what bond do you establish, how to help out your own simple survival...  Thus we come about our own values, our own take on things, as to what, say, a relationship might look like, in a way that's real to you, not just go along with everyone else's convention (not that they themselves are simply being conventional.)

Indeed, getting into yoga can be like opening up a can of worms.  You'll open yourself up to how you truly feel about things.  Worst of all is opening yourself up to being wise.  Which is a frightening thing.  Will I be dogged for it?  "Who am I to be wise?"  What do you even say, when you are "wise?"  If you were wise, wouldn't you have a retirement plan at your age?  Yeah.  But what can you do?  No one, really, is going to hire you for being wise.  So I guess you just have to get over it.  Makes sense you would directly know the human condition, on an intimate basis.

Then the thing becomes to not dumb yourself down, not to be distracted.  To try and listen to that higher self, or to be there, nearby, when it has something to say, to everyone, but you are within earshot, so take down your version of what it says.

Jesus, the yogi, whoever he was, he was close to it.  Same with Buddha, who of course had done all the yoga disciplines before sitting under the bodhi tree.  And that's the stuff we get distracted from, and there is a lot of distraction going on, a lot.  We're told we need things.

So there you are, not knowing exactly what to do with yourself, but to write, on a day off, and do your yoga.  Is this confidence, or is this being timid, hiding away from the world?  How would you know?

Is it not the divine which one should be afraid of anyway in the natural state of humanity...  The 'artist's reward,' Hemingway called the general feeling.

In the proper spiritual state, we are told, the left hand does not know the right hand is doing.  The reading is not aware of what the writing is doing.  And the writing is not aware of what the reading is doing.  Until later, when you've sort of made your peace with the day, which you are only able to do through going through this awkward state completely on your own.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Looking for a term.

What if you considered the present situation from a longer lens;  what if you took into consideration all the myriad doings of all the tribes and the cultures on the face of planet throughout all the ages;  if you added the European Old World sensibility and awareness and eye for things to consider the way things are here;  if you added into the perspective the primitive, the cave painter (a sophisticated artist, tool maker, social being as any.)  What if you then allowed your vision to encompass the vastness of space and time and universes the Buddhists are aware of, the vast kalpas they speak of?

What if you took a job, your job, my job, any job, say that of bartender, that of a particular kind, one of food and wine at a decent bistrot, what place in society, what respect, what renumeration?  What is the meeting room, the tavern, the inn, the pub, that is a responsible healthy barroom, what is it's function, what happens in it.  What is the meaning of the job, what tasks does it serve, the random therapy, the communal show of garden variety human stuff...

And what about you personally?  Who are you, if you take in that broader perspective out into the Universe?  What is your own reality toward relationships, toward a profession?  Exclusive of labels, the name tags placed by society via an understanding of the professions and the way things work...

Is there the celestial person, a fulfiller of deeper roles, roles seen perhaps in a more archaic light, like that of 'wisdom teacher', or 'man' in some term of relationship as in 'man and wife,' or 'heroic seeker.'  A celestial person who has celestial relationships, a reality that extends beyond the immediate, say the relationship of a son with a departed father.

And what if the traits of this celestial person actually proved to be just as accurate a description of  reality, if not more, than the terms conventionally imposed upon the being, limiting the individual to narrow confines, of time and space, but also of societal roles.  What if we acknowledged the deeper appropriateness that we have few terms for, terms like 'poetic justice,' or appropriateness.

Like when you learn something from a teacher that turns you on.  Like when you meet an old soul and she gets you and you get her.  Like when you find the beauty of yoga's kind of science working and breathing within your own self.

But how do such things transfer into the real world, where the striving keep on striving...

Therapy is about connecting the dots.  Yoga is about connecting the dots.  Where did the low self-esteem come from....   Then you find, balance, and then it ceases to matter what knocked you out off kilter, and your health returns.  You're fine the way things are, you understand why things happened as they did.

But to tend bar really is an important education, a very good one, priceless really.  And what one finds doing it is the contrasts of being centered and being not centered.  And the non-centered people can knock you off balance, such that the next day you really do need to get back to yoga and the flow through the chakras, prana.

Then when you are balanced, again, perhaps we all fall out of whack, you know what to do with yourself again.  You realize how the self could get buffered about in the winds of needy people.  You know, like the kind of guy who interjects his politics into the forum of the public house, unsettled as he is by his pursuit of material things outside himself, spewing forth hate.  Go do some yoga, buddy.  Get centered.

The Gospel stories of the Rejection at Nazareth (in Luke 4, Matthew 13 and Mark 6) come to mind, with the focus shifting to the people in the synagogue.  What provokes their reaction, taking offense, driving him out, wanting to throw him off the cliff at the edge of town, but a kind of un-centered quality that Jesus stands in marked contrast to.  We don't see how uncentered and out of touch people are until we have the model of calm centeredness which Jesus brings.  It's harder to bring more back from the realm of wisdom than that lesson.  And it's a lesson seen throughout, the reassuring of the Disciples.  The meaning of what faith is, of having faith, is demonstrated in new light, much as if he had them all doing the yoga that he does.

Was it that he felt obliged to teach people because he found them so distracted and distracting, so unnerving in much of their daily habits that it was almost crushing for him to bear, thus his obvious irritation that pokes out here and there which is itself a thing in need of explanation because if you were the Son of God, divine, there wouldn't be any problems.  The language with which he asks and shows people to be calmed by seems vague, as if he worked largely through brain waves, yoga-like exercises off-stage.   Maybe he too wondered if he was crazy or not.

Where does doing yoga lead?   You feel a lightness, a calm beyond calm.  A core of energy within that goes beyond your own boundaries.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yes, writing is an act of self-defense, of standing up for yourself.

So it's Memorial Day, the restaurant is closed and I'm having a good monkishly quiet day, getting some writing done, when my buddy, who's recently been traveling in South America for the good part  of a year, comes by, calling first, which I did not pick up, to borrow a bicycle and give me an update.  He's found some good possibilities of where to live out in another part of town, a half hour ride.  He had a beer or two, and a shot of infused Jameson the bartender was too proud for him to pass on, while researching apartments, and he comes in, looks around, and I get him a pint glass of Britta water and a cup of room temp green tea.  And he tells me about the fancy big money restaurant down on the water front, the chef owner who barely acknowledges the greeting of a staff person, about the busboys who elbow him--he shows me as we sit on a bench, what it's like, literally to be at the server station putting in an order, a complicated process, getting jostled by the busboys there, who generally do as little as possible taking half his tips.  "Can you run this over to the bar," he asks, in a story he tells, of a busboy who's leaning over talking to another one.  "You too busy to do it yourself?"  He tells me about the manager dressing him down at line-up...

Truly I did not want to be disturbed.  I should have listened to myself.  I like people, I like their stories, I would like to help them out, but, I've got my own severe problems.  And at this stage of my life, I'm finding something unsettling about such visitors.  Odd.  It's like I am responding to something intangible, unseen, as if able to read inner motives, inner psychological states, and some people are just way they are and never really change, and probably none of us ever change that much but simple make the act of controlling it.

Anyway, there are my thoughts, there is my work, and I made good headway, waiting, but I get my friend set up on the bike, the thing making me nervous, and off he rides, and then, as I intended when I first heard from him, I call my mom on Memorial Day.  And it is a great relief to now hear her voice.  Her voice.

She tried to call Aunt Jean in the nursing home, with whom she would go to the cemetery and look at tombstones with in childhood, but couldn't get through.  And she's had dinner already, and a little wine with it, but we have a nice conversation, her voice brave above its tiredness.  Good stuff we talk about.  I tell her I got some good writing in, before my visitor came (even though one always wonders, in the background, but what's the point?  will it save me from homelessness, or build me a new career, a fresh outlook over the ruts of life...) "What should I do tonight?  Go meet my friend?"  Oh, you know the answer to that.  Stay in and and read your nice books and have a quiet evening.  Always, a great read of people and what kind of influence they turn out to be.  I miss her very much, she lives too far away, and here I am living my self-indulgent life...  "I miss your father," she says.  Yeah, I was thinking of him too.  And Madam Korbonski, yes, we shared her too, Mom and I, going to her decorated Polish funeral up in Doylestown, Pennsylvania (which was entirely in Polish.)

I go for a golden walk in the woods off of Massachusetts Avenue, down by the cool slate-smelling stream and pungent weedy banks, but with all those really magnificent trees no one has messed with for a long time after the original deforestation.  I love trees very much.  My chakras feel open like they've not been in a while.  I feel more like myself these days, as if I could accept my sexual energies, which is, I dunno, hard for some of us, even as we might mightily enjoy.  Because we have to ask ourselves, what does pleasure mean, and as long as you channel the energy up in a yogi way, then it's good and creative, a light shining within, even if you're left to pursue it on your own in front of a mirror, Catholic God forbid.  Yes, as any Frenchman or Elizabethan poet knows, we, all of us, shit and we piss and we come, all with the lower parts of our bodies, even on days when we call our moms.  You can take such energies wholesomely, to be more yourself, that being more good news.  And to say such is really to get down to the fundamental bedrock of the literary experience, Shakespeare's 'country pleasures," Sam Johnson's 'writing is like shitting.'  Flirtatious puns at the edges of the drama, but ensuring some reality, keeping it real, as they say.  Indeed, one might write nothing but complete crap, but you write enough of it, and maybe there is a transformation, somehow, shit turned into orgasm, and then carry that up through stomach and heart and up through the throat and into the third eye that sees beyond.

Yes, opening your lower chakras, that might sound a little gay maybe (to those not in touch, busy watching whatever they put on TV), but necessary, one must totally admit.  Why wouldn't there be a fast an intimate connection between the two lowest chakras, even situated together as closely as they are, the anal and the sexual.

But it was a good day of thoughts, thinking about what happened to me back when I was studying at Amherst, the things that happened academically, and a sudden inkling of how that spilled over onto my personal life in a way I hadn't seen before, rather blaming the effects on my own self.

And I remember that summer when I couldn't write that paper on the passage in Paradise Lost when they get kicked out of the garden, and I remember one of the few times my father got angry, not at me, as I might have thought, but at the Professor.  Years later, Dad explained to me.  "Look, I had a student once who had something going on and couldn't complete the assignments.  He came in and talked with me and I gave him a decent grade because he was  good student."  I'd gotten an A minus on my first paper for the class in Elizabethan poetry, about a Donne poem, "Some man, unworthy to be possessor..."  I had mailed him the paper, and got back that it was a good appropriate analysis, but, sorry, there are rules and I got a D for the class.  I took it with a shrug.  I blamed myself.

And then later, add to that the New Yorker young woman's habit of rejection, to her part of the cycle of flirtation, which I did not take well to, rather getting more depressed.

Because, yes, inside of me, there was a fighter.  A reader.  A good writer wanting to come out.  A young man who wanted to be a teacher.  Like Professor Demott was a teacher.

But instead I came out of the whole thing feeling like an idiot, and I got so in a state that I even stopped writing papers, out of protest almost.  And John F. Kennedy said that to do his real work a student had to neglect his studies sometimes, something like that, when he came to Amherst, right before his death.  On top of making a great speech about the importance of art and poetry and of Robert Frost's 'special significance.'

But the main thing for a young kid's heart, never mind his career falling by the wayside, is the beautiful girl, what to do, why did it all go so horribly wrong, what was going on inside my head, etc.

I kinda felt set-up.  An innocent young man accused of a lot of things he didn't do, made to look stupid.  That's the way a competitive ego-filled place with smart young ambitious people vying to get ahead, a good jump start on the really well-paying job...

Old Demott, I came across him in front of the library when my mom came to visit my last week, met my mother, but before he turned to walk up the chapel, he said, "I let him down," and then walked away, tall, big-shouldered, slightly stooped, thinking on a matter of some weight.

Ah, shit, that's not good.  "You didn't let me down," I called, not with great volume,  and he kept on walking.  Years later I would get some form of a nod for my efforts, when they read a blurb of mine from a letter I'd sent to Pritchard, to 'succinctly' sum up the adventures of his classroom, into the faculty minutes upon his sad passing.

Then to come home to my father for that summer, my lodestone star, my Merlin of spiritual educational guide.  Not knowing what to do.  But a retreat to the library, where I read, great books, and found an old issue of Life Magazine, James Dean going back to his home in Indiana.

Develop like a goodly flower
rising and opening from musty earth
your stalk, your pressing up
to receive the sun.
No where else to be
but you.

I guess I might have felt like some kind of bum, fallen out of a Chekhov story, and writing was the only way to get through that.  And then you practice yoga, and that restores you to your native innocence, the freshness with which you were created to go on and do good things and be friends with good people.

Art is the creative process itself.  What can you do?  You might not be the Grecian Urn in your efforts, but, hey, better than nothing, better than silence.  If sadness comes, channel it, upward.

To really write, I think one has to be vulnerable, associated with the humble and the meek, in some way.  Which, again, makes Jesus or the Buddha such a good, in effect, writer.

What Neil DeGrasse Tyson is talking about now on Charlie Rose, I bid Mark Franz, son of a dairy farmer up on the ridge, and I to do for a report for chemistry class.   I found a book in the Hamilton College library, a slim volume, about nuclear astro chemistry/physics.  The remarkable concept, back then, in 1981 or 1982, that all that we are made of, which are elements more complicated than carbon, have come about by being cooked up in the nuclear reactions that happen in the hottest an most energetic of places, the core of stars, stars bigger than our own sun.  What more was there to say?  We are made, all our atoms, each is a combination of the elements made in distant suns impossibly long ago, and yet here they are.

Ms. VanValkenburg didn't have much to say.  She gave my friend Dave Porter and, who was it, another guy, a much better grade for simply reading a chapter in the Chemistry text book., which they did without any liveliness more than a drone.

I thought it an incredible understanding.  We are made of stardust.  I wanted to share, a gospel of chemistry, of what the biological creature is built of, carbon, nitrogen, more than that, down deep in the most intricate fibers....

Monday, May 25, 2015

Writing is reading.  Reading is writing.  They exist in a state of equality in the eyes of physics and biology and in every reality.  To read is to actively participate with the text.  To write is to actively read one's own words.  To read and write is to allow the light within to shine, to not put the light under the bushel basket, to sense the possibilities of thoughts.

These are intimate activities, as personal as anything can be, amongst the deepest of mental events.

To be a good reader is the highest of joys.  We take it very seriously, the life's blood of our intelligence.

A great teacher shows you how to read.  In my case that teacher then moves on, to do a stint teaching at a humbler institution.  In that absence a reader falls, eventually, in that absence, into neglect.  Treated so, the reader takes things personally when the level of teaching is not the same, when there is no feedback.

It's the very same feeling as that of finding yourself rejected by a loved one, when your own readership is glossed over, neglected, unattended.  You can feel offended, betrayed, ignored, short-shrifted, not given your fair rights.  Who wants rejection?  When it begins to emerge as a pattern, well, you might tend to take it personally.

After the experience then I really had to write, just to bring my mind back to even keel about my readership, to restore a basic confidence that had been rattled.  I would have already needed to write anyway.  And now I had the material.  Which makes me wonder if indeed things don't happen for good reason, to fulfill some kind of a plan.  And in a way, all stories lead back to an original one, just your own personal version must be told.

Psychologically, I went out into the world to find company amongst those who would not reject me, drinkers in a bar, who occasionally talked about books and told stories.  (How can the naturally evolved human creature put up with the modern version of himself without wine anyway?)  Drinking wine in good circumstances is a lot like reading, maybe even is reading.  Rightly is it part of bardic tradition, part of the sacrament, a ritual of daily health.   It surprises one not that the people who strongly write, going off to do it like it is the rule rather than the exception, just a part of nature, like to let their brains indulge in it at the end of the day, leading one to believe that the events it triggers happen in the same parts of the brain, strengthening, rather than weakening, increasing the power and the breadth rather than limiting.  (Whereas the television often does nothing but cut us off, like a needy person talking about their own problems when we have work to do.)  And maybe it is lonely enough at the top of the game that wine is a solace, a medicine, as there are not enough egoless people to gently converse with a great writer without stuff coming up.  To some minds, even drinking a glass of wine alone is not the worst thing.  It eases, insulates one, as Joseph Mitchell writes, against the loneliness of old age.

Reading and writing is, in good hands, in your own, a spiritual activity.  Jesus the savior is an excellent reader, an active reader, taking texts, applying them, letting events be part of the text.  You cannot just 'read' spiritual texts (in a shallow way), but bring them alive, make them personal and engaging.

It is no coincidence that one of the great disagreements in spiritual literature is over the reading of texts, the difference between how the individual, Jesus, versus the strict narrow sealed over traditionalists.  The imaginative full reading and the strict law.  We know the rest of the story.

But of course, I'd taken a hit, bad grades, my own ability and desire to write a paper, even what I was good at, at what I most enjoyed and wished for more of, taken from me.  It was a big thing psychologically, a great discouragement.   It caused me to turn away from the life of education, away to the streets.

And then I did yoga, and I began to let the life breath flow back into me, and my confidence and a sense of purpose, even as I worked on it all, was gradually restored.  It took a long time.

Of course, not everyone takes the wordy process so seriously.  After all, they might say, what's the point of being an English major, a good reader, in today's world, in the present economy.

A person very close and dear to me to bring a meaning to her life went back to school to get a degree in reading education,  and she wrote a great book about it.  That person, in tune with herself.

But of course, it is a kind of lover's quarrel.  In that light I can understand Hemingway's line of going rounds of boxing with Tolstoy and Shakespeare a bit better, not as complete bluster.

Academics, I suppose, can not help but be a little bit (or more) jealous.  They have their territory, their specialty.  They are earning a living.  Their institutions have standards to uphold.  They do not generally open up to you, keeping you separate.

But Robert Frost did not teach that why while at Amherst.  And Benjamin DeMott was the least jealous of all.  He spoke with authority.  He encouraged that pursuit in others, putting them directly in front of the text.

Polonius is a model not necessarily for being foolish, but for being one of those self-limiting academic types, limited because of his sense of pride, the sense of earned territory, a titled position.  Thus his lesson, 'be not a borrower nor a lender be,' is dead as far as a potential lesson in learning, in teaching how to think.  No Socrates here.  Hamlet's reaction is beautiful.  'Words, words, words...'

When you're young and you're learning and your mind is turned on, it's hard not to be in a certain way, to want to explore your own direction toward the truth.  You're raring to go, and you almost get single-minded, or focussed, once the stars align to show you where to go.

I myself, fired up by Demott's classroom of 'bringing things to life,' found something in Hemingway worth study, eventually.  I called it 'abandonment to the textual truths of life.'  That is how we might explain the writer's focus on the details, the texture of an afternoon on the boat out on the water, the texture of his home, because it all seems to have meaning.  And the best story, in written form, is told through describing such things as the rusty colored gin and tonic with bitters, or squeezing orange peels into the fire and the oils making different colors in the flame, or the cat's habits of going up into the avocado tree.  What do all these details mean?

Well, they are simply the shape of life, of the shape of life we all lead.  Very close to the realization that we have hands, feet, faces, legs, chests, and so forth, simple basic stuff, but stuff which has to be acknowledged.  And then, like Da Vinci's drawings, or Durer's, man, humanity, the life breathed into the human form male and female, each coming from God's sketches, takes on what human energy might look like when given form with all our different centers of energy, tribal, sexual, appetitive, emotional, expressive, mental and spiritual, the being is revealed.  Take The Old Man and the Sea.  Take The Dangerous Summer alongside it.  Which is the real one, which is the fiction?  Or rather, the same story emerges, maybe one of later life, yes, but also of a man's work, his prayers, his prayers for truth and accuracy and the presentation of a complete picture.  And if a man is led astray by his friends, that too is a truth that must be acknowledged, and the writer is not one to avoid taking in personally such a lesson, to see how it works, what it is like, to see what costs it comes with.

That's the poet's job.  To look.  To look, as they say, dramatically, unflinchingly (a term for back book covers, marketing blurbs, Polonius-style literary critique.)

There is, it must be acknowledged, an entirely high purpose behind all education.  My father's own mentor, Dr. Ray Ethan Torrey of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, describes such a thing in his little handbook, Science and its Function in Education.

But the work of the Buddhist Abbot, of the Professor, of the writer is not much different, when you get down to the core of it.  And the truth may be variously represented, as, say, being free of ego...

Well, personally, I found out that I had to write, that I had no particular field of academics to seek out and jealously guard.  I wanted all learning to lead in the direction that spiritual people place it in.  And I did not know how to become that kind of a teacher, given the way it seemed to be set up.  I could not write papers without an eye for the higher purpose and the mode of teaching was not so much engaged in that.  What I should have been doing, instead of being an English Major was study religion with Robert Thurman.  I was dumb about that.  Dumb about a lot of things.

And so, now what, for the writer, now that he is so abandoned to the textual truths of life that he is positioned behind a bar, at the whims of the restaurant business, an author unacknowledged.  It would  seem that his old institution is to protective of its territory to acknowledge his critique.  Dismissed as 'memoir, to be kept private.'  Dismissed by the reviewer of Kirkus Indie Review who missed directly the central piece of dialog as far as its meaning even while directly mentioning it.  Yes, the text has its faults, but it is enough of an opening of experience to allow light to shine in and with it the eye of anyone in search of the higher meaning, beyond the psychological aspect.

I should have known it would all come at a price.  Cast outside.  Treated like a freak.

You know...  It was a choice I don't think an artist can help, my sort of withdrawal from the conventional academic flow.

But it is hard, to be downgraded at that which you know yourself to be doing a good and valiant and an intelligent job at, at the things that inspire you, like you show up to play ball and they tell you to go home, or "No Irish Need Apply," something like that.  It hurts.  You feel that you're letting everyone down, and that does not make you feel good either.  And there are bound to be other relationships that get caught up in it.  It can all just leave you mute, shrugging, 'what can I do?'

You know you tried.  You know you did on a good job on the earlier sets of problems...  And it's a hard thing to explain to someone else, that you are not feeling exactly so good about things.  Something is rotten in Denmark, and yet you can't quite put your finger on it, even though it's pretty obvious.  You want to say, 'look, I'm not a rebel, I'm not an instigator or a trouble-maker,  but there is something wrong here.'  The stereotype conventions, help out the minority, they get attention...

And what would you do, what would be your instinct, after taking such hits, finding your teachers turned away, the best one gone?  You'd want to tell another person that she was whole, that she was beautiful, and that her state of goodness and even perfection will never change, and that she has the strength within, just as she is, "I like you just as you are."

But the mainstream might not see it, and end up treating you like an idiot because it seems your lot in life, maybe.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

But yes, I think it's natural for a writer to feel the need of leadership.  There is that wanting to express the truth, your own truth, the truth as you see it, your understanding, your version....

So it's natural that it all falls within a realm that is to some extent a competition.  And if you write out your version of the truth, and then you don't get any feedback at all on it, or you get the polite 'good job, however it was late and I'm giving you a D' then of course you're going to lose a bit of respect for the process.  And that's not so good for a student, because he's going to have to pay a high price, maybe for the rest of his life.

If you're a natural born writer, one at a decently young age, well, chances are your leadership is not going to be accepted.  No one is going to care all that much about your version of the truth if it's not that marketable.  And what follows, of course, is a natural form of exile.  Hey, I'm a writer, take it or leave it.  Emily Dickinson.  You leave behind an almost anonymous record.

But all that might be good for you.  Because it leads you even more to wisdom.

And I'm afraid that wisdom is more about finding things within yourself, which is the great thing about yoga of course, than finding it in materialism, or outside yourself, like, you name it, TV, Tindr, going out down on 14th Street thinking you'll meet some friendly un-selfabsorbed people.  What woman would date me anyway...  What a loser I would appear to them.

But I'll tell you, I had to, I had to, stop looking for happiness outside.  Haunted by things that happened twenty five years ago, hey that's life, wouldn't wish it on anyone.  I'd done enough damage to myself, my mind and all that.  I had to really meditate, and accept, and work to get unblocked, and away from the old numbing temptations...

And unfortunately, you can't control any of this.  It's just what happens when you're a writer, when you are, to an extent, the word.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We pulled off the highway toward the smaller roads that would lead us to our hike, me and the boss, headed to climb Big Schloss and camp the night.  My boss, driving, a Cooper Mini, his lab in the back with our backpacks, had forgotten his German fitness rye bread, and the same kind of bread I had brought had been made into almond butter sandwiches, which would not work anyway with dinner and cheese in his French habits.  Up we came the off-ramp, stopping, turning left, rolling past the fast food restaurants on either side, the Seven Eleven, Sheetz, another gas station, a Tractor Supply in the distance, and I look at the tiny map on my iPhone and see there is a Food Lion up ahead, not far at all.  A chance to get more water and use the bathroom before being out in nature for an overnight and the hike out.  He looked through the bread aisle, not finding anything impressing, and I thought maybe, like the local Safeway here, such an item would be in the ethnic food category, a small slice of Germany between Asia and Latin America somewhere, to quickly find that there was no German nor a Kosher section.  I remember the call of nature and met him going through the checkout.

We drove back up over the highway bridge of Route 81.   He looked forward.  "Look.  They are all here.  These are the only options people have out here."  Burger King.  McDonalds.  Taco Bell.  KFC.   Pizza Hut.  The familiar colorful rooftop logos provoking habitual hunger in need of quenching, who wants a thick brick of "Fitness Bread"...  Not the healthiest, but the money makers.  As a restaurateur, this is interesting to his eye.  And I feel the same way, food as health, and look at the poor diet Americans do to themselves, the fix of dough and sugar, the combinations and choices that lead directly to obesity.  I know myself I must avoid the mainstream, conscious selections to avoid inflammation of joint and gut and breathing passages.  For much of the drive we have discussed yoga routines, mainly his at Down Dog Yoga Studios.  At one point back up the road he expressed how he would like to find a formula for a restaurant, duplicatable, not reliant on the tastes of a chef, a new one to change routines as twenty year old restaurants have developed, expected by the customers as old comforts and dishes loyal to the tradition.

We drive on, the road getting smaller and winding over the rolling hills, farmland, rustic houses, and on into small hollows with a stream running along the road, and then we turn off into the timber, and down onto a gravel fire road which leads to a small parking lot by another stream from where we will set out, up the cut-off trail to the ridge, and then up to Big Schloss.  "We are going to be in the clouds tonight."  And I smile, happy with my new trekking poles as I follow him up the trail.  The dog is carrying two cans of beer of an unspecified kind (though not Guinness) along with his own food, and I have pouch with a decent bottle of Chiroubles poured into it to go with the camp dinner of duck confit and white bean stew my boss has in his backpack.  The forest is wet, and up atop the ridge, there is a fog, and when we climb upward the limestone castle outcrop is hidden in cloud.  The conditions will make the gathering of wood for a fire not much worth the damp effort, and I am wishing maybe I brought the warmer rather than the lighter mummy bag to sleep in on my inaugural night in my new REI tent.

My boss comes and helps me with figuring out the rain fly, staking it down here at the top between the slabs of rock on a bed of pine needles of the trees brave enough for the ridge, and then he heats dinner in the single pot stove a mountain climber would use for lightness and efficiency.  My one, the old Svea Optimus, a classic and good for the fabled high altitudes, is tricker to light than the push of a button as the newer models.  The tall boy Budweisers empty, my attempt to gather dry sticks and leaves from underneath layers of rock, cautious for little inhabitants as I collect dry wood, not resulting in much of a fire, but for a few minutes of smoke and an ember as I blow, we squat down on our rocks for dinner underneath a tree.  And from our overlook over the valley, there is nothing but clouds, and the wind is picking up and the spit of rain along with it.

We talk about the boss taking the younger manager from the other restaurant to a yoga class, and being formerly a dancer, T. "did okay."  Cool.  But we all have blocks, blocks from our upbringing, and whenever you lead people you have to make them respect you.  And people will always wag their tongues and grouse about management, and you can't, as a good boss, listen to all that, but really tell them what to do.  I nod at this lesson.  The boss has just told a great story as we drove up the timber road as the tires crunch about taking his wife to dinner for her birthday at the fancy new Fiola Mare and the failures of management there to bring forth a smooth night worthy of the time.  There is another good lesson in the story of the departed manager, who seems really to have taken a typical punch-the-clock uninspired American attitude toward the noble business of hospitality and making people happy.

It is still light out, the boss offers me a slice of Beaufort cheese, the cloud we're in seems thicker and wetter and moving more, and then it's time to turn in.  "I'm cold."  "Me too."  I take a walk out to the ridge, crossing the nifty sturdy wooden footbridge, to the edge, and with darkness falling and wind's power on me, my plastic cup in one hand still with some Beaujolais in it, it is a good idea to retreat now to the tent, take off wet clothes, hope my bag will be warm enough and try to rest my way into a decent sleep.  The wind howls, and I think of the account of Edmund Hillary up on Camp Nine perched against the rock and how the winds of Everest must indeed be unimaginably frightening, sleeping upright, back against the wall before the final summit attempt.

The night is taken as survival, windy as it is.  I pull my mummy bag, rated to 45 degrees, tight so I'm just able to breathe, pull the wet windbreaker over me as a blanket--it helps--and will not remember sleeping much, getting up once at 12:30 with a real undeniable need to pee, and then, why not, hang my dungarees, socks and underwear over a mountain laurel, before tucking back in to hide way the remainder of the night. Soon, as it grows light out, a feathered creature makes a continuous two-note announcement of sunrise after the night, no bears have come, and finally I hear my name called in the morning air, okay.  I cough up some phlegm, and step, bottom half naked except for my running shoes to retrieve my pants and underwear and socks, which in the wind have reasonably dried except for the thicker pair of socks.   The sky is blue, and the valley below has a green blanket over all its littler ridges of fresh trees and there are turkey vultures sailing at equal height to ours and my boss is sitting in lotus position facing the sun looking down into a book.

In the morning, after the struggles of the night, the dog having shivered through it, we are allowed a deep conversation about the transformations yoga and meditation allows.   Not one for organized religion the boss tells me a bit of his family history, how his ancestors held out in a mountaintop castle in Mazamet in the Languedoc as the Catholics persecuted contrary minds, burnt people at the stake, massacred the town of Bezier, pursued the good people of this the Cathar country who had their mountain top holdouts in several areas here in the South of France.  I have ancestors, too, who seemed to have been Huguenots.  The book he is reading notes of how three billion people have to get by on less than two dollars a day.  He offers me some of his Souchang Tea, which I accept gladly in my little metal stove cup, giving it a quick rinse and wipe remembering the dog licking the remainder of dinner from its sides, the leaves resting at the bottom of the smoky dark tea.  He also has some mango apple banana pureed smoothie, and some carrot juice too.  And we continue our talk back and forth about the possibility of deeper human reality and of how to deal with the bad thoughts we all have.  Compassion, compassion for the self, and I can say, yes, I've learned some of this in therapy.

And perhaps in the context of the Cathars and the Huguenots and those who generally wish to avoid organized religion and their adolescent stages and growing pains, outwardly inflicted, serving people a decent healthy dinner and some good cheer with hospitality truly is noble.

I take the rain flap off the tent and hang it out to dry in the sun, and start to take apart the tent, trying to be efficient, and to get things cleaned up, the tent shaken out.  The talk might have gone on longer, maybe I cut it off just a bit short.

We hike out.  I follow him, this tall sturdy man who has done years of karate when time and restaurants allowed, who had to suffer four years without yoga because of a hamstring pull which needed the time, who has a lower heart rate than I, who exercises more than I do, and I have to keep it at a quick jog almost, my pole tips tacking tack tack tack against the rocks of the narrow trail.

There, finally, the road, and my calves I can sense will be tightening up pretty soon.  In the car, we decide to follow a lead on a Buddhist monastery somewhere not far away, as we drive the back way down from Wolf Gap, through the trout stream pastured valley we've looked down upon, hearing dogs woof in the distance, seen the lights from houses and cars at night.  One day maybe we will do a four day hike to circumambulate this valley, and it is gratifying to look left and see Big Schloss and even the wooden foot bridge above us.

The monastery, near Capon Springs, is a worthy stop.  Our visit unplanned, a young monk, ordained two weeks before, gives us a placid little tour of the meditation hall, the greenhouse, the library, the room in which the abbot himself is seated lotus talking to a few folks, as we take turns keeping the dog from barking.  He is concerned about the monastery's cat with the dog around, but reassured, lets us walk around up to the men's dormitory.  Perhaps we might make a visit during a non-retreat period, stay overnight, meet the abbot of this Theravadan society.

And then we are back on 81, and then soon on to 66, following behind a group of four Harleys with leather jackets with "Legacy Vets" on the back.  Traffic gets thick as we get closer in, then comes to a stop, an accident up ahead.   Emergency vehicles clustered on the left side of the highway, the metro train conductor peering back from his open window, a woman beside a minivan facing a policeman, and looking back myself I catch a glimpse of what might be motorcycles lying on their sides.  Further in I look out at all the town houses on the way and all the cars, and wonder how I'll ever afford real rent or real estate in this sprawling empire I do not neatly fit in to.

Dropped off quickly at East Falls Church I ride standing with my backpack to Foggy Bottom and walk home slowly, calling my mom along the way.  But home is quiet and I am back, stuck in my strange situation, alone again.  I take out the packed tent, the rain flap and the tent footprint and hang them over the clothesline to let them dry out.  I have a piece of farmer's cheese, reheat a plain hamburger, eating it before it's even hot, and fall into a nap into which the snooze falls into the dream as a strange vibration like a  nagging conscience, a sense of being unsettled.

I hobble out to the grocery store, Glen's, to restock, a roasted bird for dinner, green vegetables I will hopefully cook at some point, after protein needs are met, not much in the way of sweet potatoes but the ones the size of coastal stones.  I grab a six of Guinness Extra Stout on the way home, to absorb the adventure, while Somm plays in the background, leaving me with no desire to be such.

My cold has returned as I wake in the morning.  But it is nice to be up in the morning, as if the night and the sunny morning up on the ridge has returned me from the nocturnal pattern of winter and shifts and maybe too much wine at night back into a creature of the daylight.  Hot water with lemon and green tea, as I write.  I am still too much in recovery to have enthusiasm for my yoga routing.

And I think of how, as I absorb the boss man's wisdom, I failed at leadership, how I failed at a crucial time.  For wanting to rise and be myself as an English major writing papers as I saw fit, giving them the time they needed, but this not being good for grades nor morale nor my guidance toward future professional activity of the appropriate sort, and of how this bled over onto a personal relationship I tried to lead, but utterly failing at it, leaving the two of us estranged, dissatisfied, an appropriate friendship of some kind between the sexes derailed and destroyed, left to nag me from the past in a repetitive way, and how much better if I'd actually been a leader, as a young man is supposed to be in these and all situations.

Maybe failure at leadership is one of those lessons that awaits one in life, that one steps toward, discovering some final inevitable obscurity, a sense of the uselessness of effort, and then the final retreat from public life and the pattern of the mainstream as well.  And one is left merely to provide whatever insight or wisdom which might innately reside or come out of such unhappy lessons only in some passive way, as if one were, too, to be a kind of mountaintop monk such as grieving people might seek out from time to time.

The boss's lesson of the story of the man who saved the monks of a Shoalin Temple, by teaching them karate, and getting them into shape after their weakness and vulnerability to whatever marauders whim, sticks to the mind.   And a bath is poured, with epsom salt, to ease calf muscles which have tightened to make walking awkward after my day of twenty thousand steps.  The beginning of another journey, perhaps, hopefully.

That lesson, found in my own failure of leadership, a failure I must own, perhaps that is a lesson that has to be learned, sooner or later, in all lives.  I found that I could not plant the seeds of any kind of real happiness outside the self, as much as I tried habitually to do that.  I find now that one can only be happy finding a contentment within as one might come across without seeking it anywhere but in the present.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yes, Sancho, now that I am seeing a therapist lady I see how you, noble busboy of this storied knight-errant barkeep, you too are therapeutic.  Someone to talk to, to bring out my deepest and most noble of thoughts and then to reflect upon them, watering the ground that more seed may sprout.

Have you ever observed the family dynamic?  Well, yes, of course you have.  When everyone wishes for the same basic thing, accommodation, love, a sharing, bringing one's own unique personal tastes into play.  And then what happens, in through the chinks, come crossed signals, miscommunications, well-intentioned efforts that lead to the misfiring of wishes.  And so, when you find someone you want to share good things and love with, but then fall, because of the fondness of those wishes dear to the heart, into miscommunications, such as might happen between a slow, thoughtful country boy, and a lively fast-minded beauty of the city, i.e., a girl used to that pushy New Yorker mode, 'order now, speak up, or get out of the way, me first, that whole way of life, it is because of the obvious miscommunications that love actually deepens, almost impossibly.  And because of it all, we say to ourselves, on the deepest of levels, ah-haaa, this person must be family--look!

Would that we were not all so separate, so that we could express our deep love and our wishes for the other's perfect well-being, so to lift the other up to the finest of life as we wish, by out inherent nature, unselfishly, without a single thought for our own comfort.  And that state, of selflessness, brought on by the recognition our entire inner being and our core and our hearts wake up to, in this world too seems the seat of many a problem.

And I am afraid that after years of such sustaining unselfish love, where do we find ourselves but in this current state of poverty and concern for our own futures which we should have planned for differently in this present world....

Ah, Sancho, Sancho...  we have indeed become ourselves, haven't we....  What we always feared, what we always wanted.  Exactly that fine wish to do something noble and gallant and beyond ourselves, beyond our humble capabilities, but nevertheless, pulling it off, at least in some way, a little footnote to our efforts, such as they will say, 'he was a nice guy.'

Perhaps, it is simply better, dear Sancho, faithful sidekick to my foolishness, to act on one's own desires and wishes, to let other people simply deal with it, as they say...  yes, I wonder...

Maybe we are better off to directly storm the castle of our fondest desires, a Crusader, setting the world aright with his sword and his lance, chasing away the selfish infidels.

Ahh, Sancho {in the mode of the turn to earthy conversations held between gentleman in the quiet of a noisy restaurant, with regard for the pleasures of lady's offerings} you know of the castle I wish to storm, that which a gentleman can take from behind without any show of cowardice.

Yes, there has to be some humor allowed in all this, as when our author, gallant old Miguel, describes as a man doing that which no other man can for him, speaking of a certain quite necessary daily bodily function, which reminds me too, of Saramago, another fine chap, god rest his soul, who describes the body as having openings and closings all of which must be in working order for life to go on.

One may pursue things either as a rich man or a poor man devoted.  It's all a matter of taste, in seeing the value in that which one comes up with, one man's junk being another man's treasure.  "Nothing is, but thinking makes it so," a clown says somewhere, in Hamlet, I believe, and yes, I believe.

Oh, but look at the world.  Look at all the miscommunications, all the selfish desires people chase after, destroying what's left of the world, drill, baby, drill.  When all of who we are really is plain old you and me, just trying to get along, cause no harm, love thy neighbor and thyself, and all that sort of thing.  Woe unto the world because of offences...

It's sad to realize we all, she and I, wanted the same thing.  But that I had my language and my ways, and she had hers.  And here I stand before you, Mr. Sancho, and you are less a fool than I am, I really think.

Ah, Sancho...  This may come as no surprise to you, this coming revelation, which is, {clears his throat--'ah hem'} that I am the biggest of fools.  I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted nothing from it, other than just simply doing it, whatever it was.  As if it too were a bodily function necessary to the continuation of certain life forms, maybe even the entire world itself for all I know.  Yes, I was thinking I was just, seamlessly, a part of the world, thus good things would come, organically, out of fulfilling the worldly function, eventually there being a transcendent purpose to it all, as I have often prayed, even as I cross myself as I leave the place where I live by the grace of God and mount my bicycle to come to work.

'Tis a world that come down hard on you, Sancho, even when they like you, the latter a sometimes secretive thing.  And all I've written, I'm afraid it's not of much use.  Good to move on, to do your yoga, to unblock chakras and things that have been blocked for years and years.  And maybe I shall put my time to better use writing a treatise to, say, the pleasures of anal sex with my love Dulcinea, which, of course, as any writer knows, must be first researched by various stages before it may be written and find its form on paper.

What higher, what better, what more honest way is there to say "I love you," but "you're crazy!"  As she in fact once plainly yelled at me.  To which I said, "crazy to bring flowers to a beautiful girl," which was to say, yes, exactly, I am completely crazy, and you are in fact kind to notice that, my lovely love.

It's taken me years to get unblocked enough to realize that in all its beauty.  A myriad diamond jewel of human life, so, maybe my great chivalric story A Hero For Our Time was not a complete waste of knightly time.

And with this great utterance, he drew a mandala of ketchup on a hamburger patty reheated in the toaster over, sliced an onion thinly, and moved, as he ate, chewing each bite, to get ready for work, Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2015

After seating at now the third table, way in the back (where it's 'quiet') away from all customers but a no-nonsense diplomat three top finishing a one course meal, as the busboy makes 'an extra hot small cappuccino' the slender woman is insistent upon down to the temperature, as she talks to her friend, an easy-going Mapplethorpe-era gay man who has visited us before pleasantly, having found the quiet she wished away from other customers, she tells him, 'just go with the flow.'  She won't even look at me when I come by, as if I too were a great cause of anxiety and disturbance.  With her cappuccino, no she doesn't want water, but a Diet Coke.  Okay.  When I come back she is talking about her relationship with her daughters.

The contradictions one sees waiting on people, observing them up close...

Ahh, Sancho, but some days, and after a long week, I feel like I have failed at everything.  What got into me?

Is it the bad habits of my co-workers?

What causes this stagnation?

Sancho, had I known then what I know now, I would have been doing yoga, breathing in through each chakra in every pose attempt, letting the breath of life come hissing in like sea water, filling me through each, filled, like a sea cave, and then the wave allowed back out.  Had I known that, I would have been calm before all things, and I would have seen the difference between the false attempt at finding the inner life and the real ones.  I would not have been illusioned, I would have been calm, known what to react to, and how.  Would I have known.

The inner life, yes, at least one like me deserves some credit in the world, as the people of the world can focus on the outer things.  But I have that within.

The great knight errant took a drink of wine after his shift.  Then to continue his conversation.

"Sancho, I know, I can look like quite a fool sometimes.  This I know.  I know reality myself, believe it or not.  When I tilt my lance at windmills, thinking they are monstrous giants, I know they are not that, not exactly, nor, I suppose, approximately.  Nor in fact, perhaps.  But, I know, there is an inner space, and in the inner space, is it not true, true for everyone, that something like a windmill cannot really be a frightening foe?

"I, for instance, have stepped upon an airplane heading, via Charlotte, to New Orleans.  The door closed, and I had only slept an hour getting ready...  Was I not trapped, the door closing, and I in the rear stomach of the flying snake, held by the hands of some evil magician who took me upon the air as if it were water?  And everyone with me seemed to think it was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, pulling out their laptops or their happy attitudes, playing along, as if to make my frightened misery even worse for the lonely quality to it...  How do they see it, as if it were nothing but a bus in the sky, though for me a bus can be a scary enough trip, but at least down to earth....

"I know, Don Sancho, that these things are strange, but they are part of reality, because they are so by speakings from the inside.  And to address such thoughts, I believe, is to embrace the old method of Socrates and Aristotle, that by questioning, including, taking in the vast circumferant possibilities, we might find a path, an arrow, a strike, at truth.  Is that not the point of literature anyway, to back up, and to broaden the lens, then, having taken in the large landscape with its bogs, its mountains, its fields and forests, its rivers, its sky, its depths, that then we might come in, focussing...

"A school teacher, a good old friend of my retired aunt, speaks of what it's like today.  The dreadful literal quality, a completely corporate model... teach to the test, the test, the test...  Good God...  Who wants to learn like that, under those conditions, the teacher already strained, in a vice, while the administrators who come up with the prison attitude drive away in fancy cars...  And he, good man, described it, something like sticking Aristotle's head in the dumpster...  Or did he say, the toilet...  'Socratic method? God, what is that?!'

"And Sancho, take the world of the literary, of the agents here in this town, how the inner life of my own windmills and foolish adventures can never even appear on the radar of their selling plan, because, of course, 'books must sell.'  Well, 'tis true, they must, but, we must give a chance to the most pointless of heroic books without earthly meaning and only questions and unsatisfying ends, victories of another world.  To protect the inner values the creature was once known to have, yes, that is a worthy end, but nowadays it always has to be sold as something, packaged...

"Inner values, they get laughed at more and  more.  'Can you make money off of that?  Because, obviously, we need money...'

"Alas, Sancho, the great inner art of hospitality, she is lost quite often enough...  And the Son of Man hath nowhere to lay his head, security an ever-departing demon, running off to some distant horizon I know not of.  Whereas the people who travel around in airports, at the beckon of the Great Sorcerer's laptop biddings seem quite fine with the world they create, to which they retire safely to at night.

"Well, I guess the book I sort of wrote, or is it a sort of book, the principle quality of it, the scaffolding behind its picture, is Quixotic.

"Yes, Sancho, people can lie dormant for years, until finally the thoughts within take shape as if suddenly becoming obvious.  Then they sprout.  Perhaps kind of like our Savior.  What was he doing all those years--yoga I would imagine--and then suddenly he was coming up with all these deep thoughts, and of course people were wondering, where, how, did he come up with this stuff...

"And maybe he would say something like, 'oh, well, I was just writing, you know, whatever came to me...  No particular shape, just the obvious truth, though yes, I suppose they are deeper truths than normally considered in daily language usage, the how-are-you-doing and what-can-I-get-you-to-drink sort of thing.  You just wake up to the insight that the world is a forum, or that it can be, so try to squeeze a few thoughts in to its large picture wherever you can.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

So, yeah, Doctor...  I guess the yoga is helping me...  At a certain point, you have to relax.  Like...  think that maybe things worked out for the best, or that this is just the way life works...  Maybe it some way it's just better the way things played out.   More realistic.  More appropriate.

I mean, from my end, I see the way people can turn out.  Yes, they're married, and have children, but, in a town like this, you have to buy into a lot, or be rich already.  And I've always been poor.  I've always looked for the spiritual in things.  Not into the big image thing.   Not into being a pain in the ass to waiters.  I know, you have to provide, if you want a family, but that's not the way my life has turned out, and I guess I accept that for what it is.  I didn't have the big ego, something you need if you're being practical.

And then, well, accepting things the way they are, you move on, and you just try to get better and live healthy and get your prana flowing and your chakras unblocked.  Be honest with yourself.  Healing.

And when I do this yoga stuff, it's like your drawing an inner mandala over your chakras, three dimensional.

And that's similar to what an artist is doing, like Giotto, making a two dimensional surface come alive with a three dimensional representation.  Finding the inner reality.  The act of art, taking a two-dimensional icon figure and breathing life into it, gravity, shade, shape, human emotion, mirrors, perhaps, the act of Jesus who brings out that which is within for people to see.  That's what the halo is about, the geometry of an awakened mind...

So when you're doing yoga and you find a chakra and you open it and feel it, draw some intersecting axes toward the center point, you're awakening to the inner dimensions, and then the fact that this flow is the real you, the Atman, the soul.  And from doing that, the baggage drops away, doesn't it.

Well, here I am, fifty, and to tell you the truth, I've never figured out what to do for a profession.  Because I've been caught up in Ego.  I guess as a writer you have to tell a story, and a story involves egos, but...  it's a futile exercise until you find your own way to move on.  Rather than latching on the next ego's story.

So what I need, Doc, is a job.  Something that will give me a sense of a retirement plan or a place to live, even if it may be too late to accomplish any form of security of the kind known around here...

Yeah, I guess I got my own life to worry about now...  And trying to figure out what it is I want to do with myself, all that sort of stuff that you're supposed to figure out right when you get out of college...

I was blocked.  What can I say.  I had internalized.  And now, every day, with yoga, I get better, opening the channel through all the energy centers, and I diminish that old ego and all its stuff.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The story of the Prodigal Son ties in neatly, Doctor.  It's a story of the ego.  You can be led by it;  look what happens.  You go and squander everything.  And  then finally after all that, you return.  To your father and brother, to your true self, your true Atman nature.  You return to the way of the Universe, to abundance rather than scarcity, to a better place psychologically.

That was my problem.  Not that this was what I was intent on...  Not that I even was ever that much of a big egomaniac.  In fact, I don't think I was.  I was a pretty agreeable guy, a bit shy.  Not a particularly big ego, strangely enough, by most people's standards.   But the ego comes out.  It comes out when you don't want it to.  Because it has to protect itself, against the real truth, which we can only see by being very much in touch with our deeper imaginations.   Hard stuff to talk about.  But the ego makes you act out, in a way different from the way you want.  And it's your own ego that's the hindrance, the most frustrating thing, a cloud that hangs over you.  No wonder.  It defends itself, makes you do dumb things against your own interest.  What is it defending?  Itself.

And then the habitual way leads you to a certain kind of approach or habit, also subtly reinforcing the ego.

This is why one has to go think long and hard.  Why Jesus went out into the desert, or Buddha went through his ascetic starve-himself period.   It's like you have to cleanse yourself.

Maybe that's why I wrote that book, to kind of lay it all out for myself, like, what went wrong, what would I do differently now, how would I see things...  What is the ego?  What is me?

But, you still are living in that state, even if you don't see it, where your true self can find its way.  And, of course, the way things are isn't as bad as you've been making them out to be.  It's just your ego, again, hanging crepe, being habitually dramatic.

So things are reasonably okay, I guess.  Just have to make the best of things.  Live and learn.  Maybe it all works out, because you have to learn these things the only way you can, by going through them.

So when is it ego?  When is it the real you?  The real you goes with the flow, right?  But it has to be healthy and do healthy things...  You have to recalibrate your perceptions and your habits, I guess....

The universe is healing who I really am.  It's telling this entity I am to let go and be content.  To find good things that way.

But struggling against the beast of ego, I can see why I'm not very social on my days off...

It's nice to wake up not feeling so down about everything, you know...  Like not dwelling on the past, and thinking, well, truly thinking, things work out.  Takes something to get you there....

That's what you'd want a story to be about, you know...  The real potential in human beings, what they could become if they shed their egos, to be their true, like, yoga Atman selves.    What would that look like?  Happy ever after?  Something from Madison Avenue on the cover of a Brooks Brothers Catalog?  No.  I don't think so.  But still, even with all the poor suffering that might be involved with bucking the trend to be the big success, economically, professionally, maritally, even with all that, maybe a human being can flourish and be something, something like Jesus was...

Christianity bears a subtle warning, don't try this at home, does it not?  Don't want to end up like Him...  The Bhagavad Gita tells us to fight back, take the yoga path, and that's better than just sitting there hiding under the bed, go out and slay, the yogi way.

But how do we imagine what that enabled freed person might look like?  We'd have to trace him back to his roots, watch him grow, and then, yeah, wait and see, what kind of person he turns out to be.  It's like it would have to be expressed in art, in some form of biography, but one with a claim as to what that biographical history might represent, how to interpret, how to interpret 'the Idiot,' or, whoever he is...  (Was poor old Van Gogh up to that, before the cadmium got to his nervous system?)

Barrooms are, of course, places of ego.  That's what makes them so troublesome.  The peddling of the bad influences, the supposed pleasures...

And the story of what happens to Christ, it's like a real-time account of all the egos...  Egos, egos, egos.  No wonder we all have to side with Him.  And maybe He is telling us that these battles do play out in real life, that they are real.  That you are called to join the battle, by being the real person.

But, you know, as I think about, as an aside here, where was he as a young man?  How did he manage  the keep a low profile?  What was he up to, what was he like?  There have been sketches in various Gnostic gospels, but, maybe he was away in India or something...   What was he like as a student, ha ha ha...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I wrote that book, embarrassing as it may be, as a way to reinforce a young person, to help them identify insecurities, so that young people wouldn't have to go through the kind of pains I went through in the phenomenon of young love.   I wrote that book to help young people feel that it was okay to be themselves, shy, awkward, ineffective, frustrated as they try to grow, to show that being overly thoughtful and idealistic are growing conditions and pains normal to the process.  I wrote that book to show what the young animal is like at that stage.

The book ends as it does, characters leaving the town, to leave silent the space they will inhabit.  The book leaves out the years of wandering and lack of happiness and any sort of lasting satisfaction.  That's how life is sometimes.  One moment you're at a great school, and the next you're struggling to get by.  I would hope it is of some service to humanity to raise a note of caution, a way to avoid making the mistakes of youth and indirection, the mistakes that happen when a young person is trying to find himself.

The first day off I do yoga, and then a slow walk up Massachusetts Avenue and past the mosque and over the bridge to where there is a pasture that slopes down to the eastward side.  Today there are the stalks of dandelions in seeding stage, the grass richly green in the late afternoon sun.  I reach it.  The ground is soft as I walk over it, and there is a quiet away from the road.  I walk down very slowly, robins hopping about, and down to the stream, by a dirt deer path, and out on the park trail along the creek that will lead me along a nice stretch and to the bridge I stop and look down from, the small fish, alewives, slipping around each other like eels in groups of ten and twenty.

No, I'm not that much of a tough guy.  That act can only get you into trouble, and here in this patch of nature I can be the idiot I am, able to think freer than the sidewalk along the embassies can allow.

Happy are the insecure, for they will find security when they wake up and realize it's okay to be insecure, less the need to hide from it with varying strategies.  The strategies will one day not work, and one day you'll find yourself facing that.   On the good side is the work you've done, glossing insecurity over less than is generally done.

I would sit somewhere and look over the stream and the woods, or even lay down in the grass, but I will have to make my walk back and by the time I do get back I will be hungry, having skipped breakfast to do yoga.  And the yoga was worth it.

One can get the sense sometimes that you can try to fit in, but that it's either not all that worth it or that it cannot honestly be done.  One does it for monetary reasons, sure, but...

After all the insecurities and all the pains of not belonging, of existing around edges, of not seeming able to really get what you are supposed to do, the way you're supposed to live your life, indeed, you do find a feeling of being welcomed by the quiet things of God and prayer and Buddhas.  And that's what gets you through, while allowing you to still be honest with yourself.

And that's a lesson hidden within all of us, encoding us so that one day we might come to see that.  Thus the seeming strange ways of our earlier paths, the strictness of them, the way we can only be detached from our own fond wishes some times.  The mind that knows deeper wisdom leads us even then in happy days of youth.  As the Buddha says somewhere, it matters not what path one take, I am there to meet him or her.

Well, I suppose I've been at fault, treating the world as a place of scarcity rather than abundance.  Hiding out from life.  Letting nights slip away into the ego's own wishes, enduring, not trusting the wisdom of Atman self.  Afraid to make the moves I needed to make, say good bye to bad habit.  Thinking that's all there was.  Hiding out.  Feeling guilty.  It was my own attitude.  Not trusting.