The woman I loved
Chances to have drifted nearby
From across country;
Alights on a section of the city
Typically distant to me
But I happen to be there in evening
And see her photo on my phone,
A few blocks away in person
But still (safely) states away in heart.
I still proudly disbelieve in fate
But feel the irony that twists my heart
With thoughts of how we’re linked
And in the future, published,
I envision a woman reading these words –
Not her, someone else
Who I imagine myself feigning to love,
Imagine her reading and feeling sorrow
Because she never loved me in return.
I always see someone I think I know
But it turns into a different face.
Tell me –
Who did I see?
Did the face really turn
Casting uncertain quantum waves
Like a soggy blanket over my feelings
On a cold night, rain-swept and infinitesimal?
If I see you in so many faces,
Can’t you learn to see me too –
Anguished and searching all those eyes
For a semblance of someone I used to know?
Memory is not even a feeling
But a memory of a state of feeling,
An aborted daughter in the womb of childhood pain
Cut from limb to limb
But somehow still living.
Which face goes where?
Who places them like guitar strings
In their proper slot in a floating bridge?
O Floating World, over-full
Tune me tightly, like a lover
Until I snap from rage
Then turn again
And let your face be the one that I place there
Threading you through a bridge
Gently pulling you up and down
Smoothing out you’re trembling,
Wrapped in soggy night terrors,
Lost to the turning of eyes.
In cryogenic sleep
I wasted through space
and that was paradise.
for seventy years
in a half-remembered dream
I walked on the earth
and that was Hades.
You, where will you walk?
How will you float?
Alone, or in the host of Andromeda’s Angels?
On Brighton Beach after dark
The lovers take the lifeguard chairs
Keeping watch as their love goes out to sea.
When I’m on the train I like to try to sit quietly, stare ahead, and meditate. I try to think about nothing, be mindful of the physical world. I try to think about the train, how it’s moving from point to point, how it has an origin and a destination, how people get on and off, how each of them has a point of origin and a destination, and how it’s ok not to be in a hurry and just be mindful of how everyone is on a separate journey on the same train. Just like how we’re each on a separate journey and our lives intersect temporarily, never permanently. Each of us is alone. Never fully with someone else.
What does it mean to love myself? I’ve noticed that there seem to be two different forms of human love, in broad terms. Erotic love is the first, and it means possessive love. This includes but is not limited to sexual love; any form of love that is rooted in desire for possession of an object of love can be grouped under the heading of Eros. More forms of love than we might like to admit can be found in this category. The second form of love is what I think of as charitable love; a love rooted in giving. It’s the opposite of erotic love, in a sense. Charity is divine love. (But isn’t Eros also a form of divine love? A tangent for another time…)
What I’ve noticed is that, when it comes to self-love, possessive love always fails. “Self-Eros” is emotional masturbation, the desire for the self. Self-Eros is ultimately self-hatred. To love myself does not mean to possess myself as an object of desire. The unencumbered ego goes the same way as the unencumbered libido. It follows that I cannot form my own identity because I cannot possess myself as an object of my own love. But this is just what I constantly try to do. Individualism is an attempt to possess the self. But the innermost self, the spiritual self, is distinct from consciousness and can’t be possessed by the intellect. The conscious self can think about the spiritual self, but only the spirit can “know” in the sense of gnosis; the knowledge of participation, of the consummation of the spiritual, mental and physical. Possessive self-love emanates from the intellect, from self-consciousness, but it always leads to self-hatred, because the beloved is never possessed; the true self remains elusive to the intellect. Real self-love, then, is not possessive, but on the contrary, to love oneself can only mean to totally let go of oneself.
Self-love is self-charity. It means giving to myself in the way that I give to others. Extending forgiveness to myself in the way I extend it to others. Seeing past the mistake of a moment to see the arc of my history, as I do when I think about the reasons that I love someone else. Possessive self-love fixates on my moment-by-moment existence and relentlessly tries to form my identity by the decisions of each moment, but charitable self-love pulls away until my conscious self can see all the moments that make up my life. Charitable self-love doesn’t demand that I define my own identity. It simply sees me for who I am: the sum of every moment of my life, an empty vessel filling up with experiences, a physical body with a brain, which possesses consciousness, which is aware of my spirit. Charitable self-love emanates from the spirit. It exists before thought, before self-consciousness. This is why we have it as children, but lose it in adulthood. The task of loving myself is the task of relearning the love of the spirit.
Loving myself rightly is crucial because it’s impossible to love others if I don’t love myself. But charitable love originates from God; it’s the divine, the original love. It emanates first from him, and when I accept it into my spirit, I learn to love myself first, and then I learn to love others. Charitable love means loving intrinsically, before thought, without thinking. This means that not only is God’s love unconditional, but it I’m free to love myself unconditionally too. Loving others unconditionally should flow freely from this way of living. God, teach me to love like that.
If all your structures break beneath you
Do you let them fall
For the sake of truth
Or do you still believe them all?
Do you rise from the rubble and rebuild
Frame by frame
For the sake of truth
Or do you lay down at night the same?
And who can judge, if you choose to build or rest?
On which side of your thinking
Does reality really lie?
In that night, does your conscious testify or lie?