|not just circle
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Oh! and one more thing I am learning about love: it is self-sustaining. It doesn't need you. The beloved is in one's own heart, and in the absolutely monadic objectivity of each soul. How real is the experience of the plenum, and of relatedness. How real is that other person?
I'm a little relieved to find that I still have some theories. I wonder if I would throw them over for the physical fullfillment of my desires?
So, I'm feeling conflicted about the whole notion of being involved in concrete ventures, like, for instance, a cycling publication. Before I started writing about cycling for a publication, I wrote about the poetry of human effort in my journals, and used cycling as an example. Now, I write about cycling, and it feels so mundane sometimes, and I have to keep explaining to myself why I was interested, because if you compare the sport of cycling with other things I could dedicate my free time to, for free, then volunteering for the DATA organization, or campaigning against the dunderheaded blundering of our dumbass President in the Middle East seem like they might be better concrete engagements.
Part of why this issue arises is that I really do have to spend a huge amount of time thinking about men in tights to do a good job, and don't get me wrong... I LOVE men in tights, but what I really need to achieve is that link between the conceptual things that really interest me, and the actual engagement, and sometimes it feels like I am losing the plot a little bit.
Of course that's my own fault, and if only I weren't so intellectually lazy, those threads would be stretched taut over the abyss of meaninglessness, and I would not be in these straights. The thing is, I KNOW the meaning is there. Sport is like art, in that it is a pursuit of our leisure time, and it is composed of unrepeatable performances of human endeavor. Sport is truly beautiful, and cycling has that drama in spades. It gives everyone a chance to experience those beauties in a way that doesn't tax the mind too much, since those comforting right answers are there in the results.
Even so, I'm pretty sure I believe that there isn't much that's more important than art.
Also, I believe that the truth is in the details and in the conrete experience. Theoretical thinking is entertaining, but action and engagement is where truth resides. The most comforting and pleasurable thing about sportswriting is the way you are really just asked to tell the story of what happened. That's really very good for me.
On this same note, here's something lovely and true I read by Joseph Campbell about what gets lost in times of political strain and war. Sport originated in preparations for war, but with the first Olympic games, became an offering to the gods.
That's a nice transition.posted by ~ | 3:41 PM
Monday, January 27, 2003
I'm cranky about all the work I have to do, and about how many different people expect me to work my heart out for little more than a pat on the head.
I am cranky about the job that does pay me. I don't want to work with, or associate with nasty, greedy, unkind people any longer. I'm retroactively pissed-off about not being given so much as a CARD by my employers at Christmas.
I'm feeling growly about the man I am smitten with, and am wishing I could simply be over it and perhaps move on. I am weary of attempting to uphold high-minded ideals about the nature of love, and would prefer to throw a temper tantrum until I get my way about every little thing I want.
I'm financially anxious, and worried about my mother, who is ill, and who doesn't have any medical insurance.
Is there any way that every single possible logistical detail could be taken off my hands by the can-do fairies so that I never have to think about any of it again? Could all the work I have to do magically appear in my computer, all filed away in the apporpriate locations with my next key-stroke?
While I'm at it, could I please get about 17 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep, and be woken up on an elfin bower by declarations of undying love from Lord Aragorn, after the battle is over and he is already the king, dressed in kingly garb and with a long sword at his hip? Could I please be as beautiful as Liv Tyler?
If I can't have that, could I simply be transported directly into a fur-lined sleeping bag on the deck of a sanitorium in the Swiss Alps for 7 years, or find myself suddenly in hibernation in a turf-covered house in the frozen Icelandic tundra where all sounds are muffled by drifts of softly falling snow? Could I please live there in a state of almost total isolation, and with a steady supply of nice warm soup? Could the only soul withing a 50 mile radius be a sheepherder with beautiful nordic bone structure and ruddy cheeks who doesn't speak a word of English?posted by ~ | 5:04 PM
Sunday, January 26, 2003
So, my sister has been having a disastrous relationship with an old friend of mine from college. When I met him, he was interesting, and funny, though always a little bit cold or prickly - someone who never brought his heart to the game - but he was a sweet boy, all the same, and I loved him... not as a lover, but as a person.
Since then, he has spent the past 15 years making as much distance as possible between himself and any kind of meaningful life. He has shrunk down every last part of himself until it's as small as it can possibly be, and lives in a tiny little space, and his heart is never in the game. Enter my sister, (which, incidentally, is what he did, both physically and emotionally) a relatively inexperienced girl with genuine feelings and a soft heart, who calls a willingness to be treated like a doormat loyalty, and whose insecurities seem to be excusing every one of his ugly actions, and let me tell you this: I can't look at it anymore. He disgusts me, and she does, too.
This is more of that emotional engagement that I should really be seeking to cut out of my diet. Why do I care?
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
It's a thin line between love and hate, incidentally.
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Reading more Camus. Jesus, is it brilliant.
I'm reading his notebooks about the develpoment of his character Merseault, from A Happy Death, and he writes that Merseault realizes that "Happiness implied a choice, and within that choice, a concerted will... Not the will to renounce, but the will to happiness." In this estimation, there are no excuses. My old boyfriend used to tell me that happiness was the result of "righ choices," and that always bothered me; I think it allows too much room for excuses, selfishness and the comparison of choice against choice, which is perhaps anathema to happiness. It's a process that can wind you up in yourself until any true feeling you had is gone.
I believe there are no excuses. To whom can you report your excuse for denying happiness?
My happiness is always in moments of clarity: those sublime moments when the soul descends into the body, and an almost forgetful abandonment comes over you, fearsome and intense, as if the whole of my life had condensed in that one moment, and I cannot hesitate to feel the the pleasure and pain of its absolute solitude. In those moments, I am strong enough to feel my own singularity, and to let my body be my vehicle. It's as if perception is purified by a moment of truth that can only be felt in the pure sunstantive matter of this body in this moment, and it's a moment that is unremarkable; a moment of truth not because it is heroic, but simply because it contains nothing else. In those moments, I am truly innocent of intention.
I have a great longing for isolation and for pragmatic work. I think the loneliness I experience can only be had in crowded places where one is always brushing up against people and relations. The aloneness I desire would have to be a separation, and a convergence with all that is voiceless, before which I would be forced to bow, accepting that my reasons and constructs cannot touch meaning. A place where I would organize my heart to match the rhythm of the days, rather than submitting them to the curve of human hope. My desires.
I love the romanticism of Camus' Existential vision. It's the detachment I seek where all things are imbued with their own profound significance, but nothing pushes or pulls, and the human being is still and silent before the silent face of all that is.
Perhaps it's true that all things are insignificant to the one who is called to this kind of silence, and that person does not need the love of another, which would only fills one with the urgency of survival and fullfillment of desires. Sometimes I want nothing more than to loose the bonds that tie me to other people, to silence the desires that keep me looking after them: my love of them and of myself, my hopes for outcomes that please me... But, there's an escapism in that. Hopes detached from outcomes are bloodless, and love without the specificity of a body in all its fragile violence turns us away from our own bodies, and from the fathomless animal, and the inexplicable substance of flesh.
Albert Camus. Huge favorite.
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Sometimes the choices seem bleak. Bloodless fatalism or, a fool's hope: sometimes it seems like they are the same. Perhaps Camus' kind of empty but fervent hope mixed with an equal part of denial is some kind of middle way.
Friday, January 17, 2003
The last two nights have been spent, until late, in the company of someone nice. Talking about books and art. Today I have received e-mails about nothing but just with little jokes and remonstrances. He called me this morning to tell me about a spelling mistake he made. We are going to a movie on Monday.
I have some hope, and that's probably nuts, but moreover, I have an insane amount of tender feeling, which is even more nuts, and is perhaps a sign of bad judgement on my part... but I am forced at this point ot admit that it isn't a choice, it's a compulsion.
There's a feeling of being stretched and of being half, like there always is when love that lives year round like a vague shadow, pin-points its focus on the specific bones, skin, hair and self of a person who breathes, speaks, moves and is. Last night, he was showing me something in a book, and I leant in next to him, and breathed in the warm clean scent of his skin and hair, and reminded myself: this is love.
This moment is.
you being in love
am i separated from your body smile brain hands merely
and how do i prefer this face to another and
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Day 7, but I think I'm going to have to break it tomorrow. I have to go to a friend's for dinner and since I fully blew her off last week, I need to show up and be social tomorrow. I won't be able to eat much, but I'll have a little. I feel like I could go on now, though, indefinitely. I am not feeling it anymore, really.
I spent a long, very charming time with the man today. The truth is, I love him, and there's nothing else to say. It's up to me how I feel about that, and I choose to feel all the good of it. He met with my brother about doing music for the film, and that went very well. I think they'll find some good things together. Also, he came to my house for the first time, and liked it. He seemed comfortable, and was very sweet and friendly to everyone, and was not false or acting. Met my mom, and my ex-husband, by chance... After that, we went out for a drink together and talked about books, mostly, and art - what makes it good - what makes it work. The whole time I wanted to put my head on his chest. He laughed a lot. It was nice to see him like that.
It feels so good to feel that... to feel that kind of affinity as if it's part of your body. There's something so good about those feelings that I really just know that I have to be patient, and let what will be, be between us. I can't change the fact that I love him; I simply do, so what must now be done is to find the course of action that allows me to give that and to be happy giving it. I know that I am important to him, and that my friendship is good for his heart. I know he feels that.
I wrote a poem a long time ago, a short one, about being out of love, and it was this:
This feeling I have now is the opposite of that - it's that sense of quiet. Love fills me with a sense of purpose, and the desire to improve myself and my relations with others - it makes me want to purify myself, and to be worthy of love itself. There is no clamor, except occasionally that of my desires, but they are not as important as the clean feeling of love. My sister asks me what he gives me... and it's this feeling: the opportunity to feel that and to see that a human being is beautiful when you you see them with eyes like that.
Now if I can only achieve a posture that is stable and free from suffering. I think I can.
Monday, January 13, 2003
Every person is a huge, uncharted territory.
I've spent a long time using my questions as the sonar that will help me map out the contours of an inner landscape. I have sought, and I think to a great extent, found a spiritual signature. I have been submissive to the body of knowledge I've sought, and will continue to be so.
I had a nice conversation with whosit on the phone today.
Day 5. The hunger is much less intense. It's amazing. Today I feel tired, but I might feel tired on any given day. Incredible, not to have eaten in five days. It seems crazy to say that, but I feel good. I feel sensitive and light, and very clear, though just a little bit short-tempered, if the truth be told... though not unhappy.
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Day 4. I feel good. The agitation of it has gone away, and I feel full of clarity and energy, actually. I did my yoga class today, and it felt great - I felt really able to feel myself and very light. I felt a sense of space in my body and an openness that I haven't felt in a long time.
Also, I feel really pleased by things. A certain person of whom I am very fond says that it's not out of the question that we might go to a movie together, and that is delightful, especially since I have followed my internal directive in not pushing for anything in that interaction. I've also been shown a great deal of confidence and trust by not only the crankster, but by other people whose response to me has been entirely their own.
I feel renewed in my sense that love can be given freely and without making demands in return, and I read something very nice in the Tao te Ching, which is "The way is easy for those without preferences."
Being hungry, having appetites, and not filling them is a good exercize, and one with more than one application.
Also, I saw a film that was staggeringly beautiful, and that film was Joe Carnahan's Narc. Absolutely brilliant in every way. Hardcore, hard to watch, sad and gritty, but so truthful and so deeply good. There is hope!posted by ~ | 11:38 PM
Saturday, January 11, 2003
Day three with no food, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. Day two was tough: headache, worsening cold symptoms, stomach ache, but I feel fine now, and strangely energetic. I'm amazed by how much advertising on TV is about food, and also by how thoroughly unhealthy all of it is.
I saw a good film last night - The Hours with Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Juliane Moore. It was good. Very sad, and a little melodramatic, but also very truthful about some things. Nicole Kidman was especially brilliant. She's really a great actress, and so beautiful.
Today, I had to go to a baby shower, and it was really interesting to be so deeply in the world of women. Baby shower games, oohing and aahing over pink baby clothes and talking about how we all handled things when our children were babies. I spent a lot of time silent. I love my son, but I think I'm glad to only have one. There are children I love very, very deeply, but that world! I'm not sure I love that world, or that I love children in general.
Maybe I'm just a grump.
I haven't seen my cranky friend in two weeks, and I'm starting to miss him. We are in touch daily, but I am missing the way he hugs me hello and goodbye, and how he gets excited in the middle of conveying some very important thought and as the volume of his voice climbs his diction becomes more and more emphatic and distinct. I'm missing how he looks so tired and rubs his eyes, and the way he sometimes laughs at my jokes... but not always.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
My new computer rules.
Today is the first day of a fast. I hope to hold out for ten days. In that time I'll drink a lemon juice drink, or tea, but nothing else. It seems insane thinking about it, but the first day has been alright; not too difficult. It's an experiment. I want to see what it's like to not feed the appetites, to gain some mastery over the primary urges, and it's good to clean house every once in awhile. I think now would be a good time.
Also, I am attracted to extremes, and it interests me to attempt one. I want to feel the effect it has on the mind to deny the animal. The first physical symptom should be headache, and I feel that coming on, along with a kind of aimless lightheadedness. I'm tired, too; and a little cold. it will be good to sleep.
I've been depressed lately, and it's been a bad week. Some things are very good, and others are worrisome; logistics, mostly. Things that I can deal with, but sometimes I just feel too tired to think about.
Something that I keep thinking about is a thing Cranky told me: that for him, the bike racing, the intense connection with his body and the looming excitement of the next race were all like a rest for him. Like a moment when his brain stopped turning and he could just be. He also said it was addictive. When I asked for more on that, he told my why it was physically addictive, but I suspected that a psychological dependency was even more likely. He's like me... secretive about that crazy stuff, and painting a nice picture for the people he meets. He's good at it, and so am I... But, back to the issue: He said it was an escape, or a distraction. If things got too crazy in his life, he could always count on his body to be strong enough to take him somewhere that was concrete.
I have the sense that we all spend a lot of time distracting ourselves and killing the days off. My brother told me the other day that he thought he might have a problem with anxiety. He said he feels that disaster is looming, even when it's not. I think the reason why is that he is not able to be engaged in his calling... which reminds me of another thing Cranky told me, last week in an e-mail:
"What's really important is that we find our calling. The only way to lead a truly spiritually satisfying life is to always work towards that path. Doing that is rarely the easy road. Even when it comes down to making choices, the right ones are never the easy ones. My own opinion on our path in life is even a bit stronger: I've always felt that if we are lucky enough to be given a gift, for whatever, it's more than a necessary path. It's an obligation not to take it for granted."
It just seems like there are things that get in the way of that - logistical things, or things that one imagines are necessary. Or, maybe just money, or lack of it. It seems like something that is so important a part of one's virtue, something that MUST be done, or both mind and body will suffer, must be somehow attainable. I really need to believe that, and to believe that astonishing things are possible.
Maybe it's the combination of being hungry and tired, but these are some real stream of consciousness ramblings. Oh well. It feels good to be writing them, and good to be thinking them. I have a feeling its going to be an intense 10 days.posted by ~ | 10:37 PM
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Ok. There's no doubt about it that yesterday sucked. Today had its moments, too. For one thing, I'm still sick. For another, my car repair is going to be ridiculously expensive. I also slammed my fingers in a door, and there still isn't anyone here prepared to give me the foot massage I so desperately want... but today, there is a bright side.
I got a beautiful new iMac laptop, and my new address book lets me put little pictures into it next to my little monkey boys and friends. Also, I had a great conversation with a guy from a PR firm in NY who is going to help me market my team big-style, and I also heard from Mr. Team Boss that the team will pay for my travel next season in compensation for my efforts, which means that I will be allowed to enjoy plenty of bitchin' bike races in person without going to the poor house, and will continue to cement my position in the bike boy industry.
So, although my finger really hurts, and my car is going to take the place of travel in terms of showing me to the poor house, there has been some silver lining today.
I read yet another beautiful thing in Albert Camus' notebooks, and it's this:
"We don't have feelings which change us, but feelings which suggest to us the idea of change. Thus, love does not purge us of selfishness, but makes us aware of it and gives us the idea of a distant country where selfishness will disappear."
Beautiful. I love Albert Camus.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
The Highlights of my Day
1. Woke up sick at 6am.
2. My son woke up with a fever of 102.
3. I still had to drive the other kids in my carpool to school, a 45 minute drive one way.
4. The bank refused to cash my check from Schwab, thereby foiling my plans to buy a new computer today.
5. My car broke down - cooling system - and had to be towed.
6. I left my cell phone in the car... which was towed.
8. I had to wait for hours at a MALL for a ride home.
9. When I got home, I discovered that through some snafu with an old business account not being paid by my employers on time, Pacbell had turned off my personal phone as punishment.
10. I totally forgot about dinner plans with my friend, who is 7 months pregnant and made pasta from scratch for me. I stood her up.
Monday, January 06, 2003
Look at this lovely picture I found of my dearest professor ever:
Professor Christopher Ricks. He still haunts me, and I can't help thinking sometimes that he would be so disappointed with my terrible editing skills, and for the fact that I've left off my studies. He was always so generous and kind to me, and I loved him very much. This picture almost captures his charm, but he looks rather too well organized. I remember him with his hair a bit messed, and with one collar wing eternally out of place.
But he's lovely. I miss him.
Feeling a little tired, and wondering how I'm ever going to get the ups and downs under control. That's priority number one.posted by ~ | 4:00 PM
This weekend I revisited my DVD of the greatest movie I've ever seen, Jane Campion's unbelievable masterpiece, The Portrait of a Lady, adapted from the Henry James novel of the same name...
...what a brilliant film. It's seriously, the most excellent feminist document I have ever seen, and has such a remarkable relationship with the source material. Like all Jane Campion's films, it deals with the strength of a woman's will. In the film, Isabel Archer rejects one suitor, an English lord, because accepting him would mean "giving up other chances," not to marry, but "from life... the usual chances and dangers." Then, she tells another suitor that she will never marry, that she doesn't wish to be a "mere sheep in the flock." When she is finally caught, it's by a terrible man, but her imagination has made him beautiful; has smoothed all of his worst evils into his greatest virtues and has convinced herself that she is absolutely in love with him. Of course he is the worst man she could ever have chosen.
Moving on from that, I went to see some friends this weekend that I don't see often, and they asked the question that is rumored to be dreaded by all singletons: "how's your lovelife?" I told them that I was, in fact, in love with someone, but that he is dreadful. My friend told me that she thought my whole family was a family of women who choose the wrong men, and offered to help me come to a greater consciousness of my choices. (She thinks she has such a handle... but that's another story.) I can't really deny that it's true that not one of us has shown a genius for choosing, but I also feel like the jury's not in on my sister and me. So far we have not succeeded, but only one love can be the love of one's life, and if it isn't found yet, that doesn't mean I won't recognize when it arrives. Still, her comment made me think, and then... Isabel Archer.
At the end of the film, Isabel's cousin, who loves her but is dying of consumption, tells her that he can't believe that "so generous" a mistake as hers can harm her for more than a little.
Maybe that's what love is: a generous mistake; an illusion of the will, or kind of willing suspension of disbelief. Looking back, I have a brilliant career in the exercize of my imagination in just that manner. I can't help but wonder, in the face of the crusty, cranky old geezer that has arrested me, if I'm not letting my imagination make him beautiful in just the way I'd most prefer.
And, if it is, why him?
Saturday, January 04, 2003
Having decided to take the job, (which I'd be doing for love, really) I am reminded immediately of the need for caution. It's going to be a real practice to navigate the Scylla and Caribdes of the ego and self-doubt that characterize my new brother in arms.
I talked to him today, and he sounded more tormented than ever before, and is really and truly living in the vacuum of his own mind. If I'm to truly give what I can, out of a pure spirit of self-lessness, then I will have to very carefully ferret out what he can and can't accept, and cultivate myself very carefully. At all costs I can't let myself be thrown off, not by desires denied or fullfilled.
As Krishna admonished Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:
They live in freedom who have
As much as I love, I have to remember that he is damaged goods, and is dangerous. I have to find centeredness and peace to be stronger in the face of whatever comes my way, and most importantly the strength to release the outcomes.
Albert Camus in his notebooks: "To give oneself has no meaning unless on posesses oneself - or else, one gives oneself to escape one's own poverty. You can only give what you have."
Another real question that plagues me is that of balancing a right level of engagement with the detachment that allows one to live amongst people without pain. Talking to people who know and love me about my decision to go forward with the current experiment, some people tell me, YES! Take the chance, while others tell me that it's a kamikaze mission.
The truth is, he is a different kind of person than I am. He is unkind in a way that I am not. He is foreign to me, and has lived a life that has no similarity to mine. Also, There are millions of things about him that are unlovely and vampiric, and that by all rights I should not invite in. Still, if he only hit me in the head, I could keep him safely in the realm of science, but he hits me in the heart, and it almost makes me angry, because it throws me off my balance. I resent that.
In other news, I delightfully dreamed about kissing last night. The delightful kissee was none other than my ultimate cinematic heartthrob, Viggo Mortensen, with Aragorn's hair and beard.
Friday, January 03, 2003
I've decided to take the job. When he asked me, I started trying to think about how it would work, could I do it, how would we structure it, etc., and he told me "You just have to jump in and do it. We can't plan it all out right now!" and he's right. I have to just take the plunge. One can't live life in fear, and yes has been on my lips since he asked me.
Having made that decision, I am full of happiness.
On that note, there's a brilliant song by Joni Mitchell from her fabulous album, Blue that comes to mind, and it's this one:
All I Want
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
It's hard to tell people, in life, that you don't have ambitions or visions of grandeur - that you only want to be quiet and to be able to give what you have.
I remember when I was travelling in Turkey, we took the Ferry from Istanbul across to Bursa, a trip of about two hours. The ferry had a small play structure for children in it, and there were two women, an older one and a younger one watching over a small boy.
Both women wore conservative black scarves over their heads in the more traditional style - not just loosely covering their hair, but smoothed flat over their foreheads and held in place by pins, with the scarf fastened under their chins as well. Their hair was not for public consumption. The older woman was stooped and weary, but stayed near the younger; the younger one was beautiful. Her skin was clear, pale olive with full lips and wet brown eyes. Her voice was quietly gentle and she was graceful and lithe in her long dress.
The boy she was watching over was rowdy and playing vigorously with some older children. His mother's constant vigilance kept watch over him and corrected any waywardness with the smallest gesture. She guided his will rather than imposing hers.
While I was there, I started thinking about the fact that she was an Islamic woman. Her hair could not be seen in public, and she would lead an essentially private life. Her deeds and her service would never be known or published, but would be kept under the sole proprietorship of her husband and children, her parents and kin. Her full beauty would never be seen in the world, and would always be like a secret garden in the harem. The harem, which for us in the west conjures images of amber-limbed saracen maidens dressed in sheer silk, and a sultan in silver-soled shoes taking his pleasure at will, but in their world only means the private part of the house that is occupied only by the family.
Culturally, it's hard for us to imagine that anyone could be happy without a public will, or that the willingness to be of service, especially in a woman, is anything but a martyrdom or oppressed victim mentality, but I'll never forget how much that life appealed to me. Of course, I am dreaming of ideal partnership and a perfect union of forces, and not every relationship can achieve that, but to me, those kinds of trappings do not seem to be such obvious evidence of inequality, nor does a quietly lived, non-public life, or a life lived in the service of those you love seem oppressive.