December 17, 2018

some momentary awareness

Therapist Gumby handed me a printed copy of a Rumi poem before we last parted, and asked me to read it, let some time pass so I could move beyond my predictable gut reaction of thinking it's absolute rubbish, and then consider what it has to say.  I have done all of that, and I'm still considering.  This is apparently one of Rumi's best-known pieces, but it was novel to me:




The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


I can be very specific now, after letting that first impression quiet down, about why I think it is rubbish.  I think about the immense anger I harbor toward my mood swings and have difficulty with the idea of inviting them in, but I can't disagree with it; the idea simply seems out of reach.  I resist letting new books, movies, music in; how much more these things he names?  But it's his conclusion, based in mysticism, that makes me toss it in the rubbish bin.  I simply cannot.

One thing, however, seems to have persevered:  For the first time, I found reason to be grateful for my swing into depression.

I hoped yesterday that it was a result of circumstance ... the completion of reading a trilogy and the let-down that always brings ... a perceived rejection ... clumsy mistakes piled up.  This morning, I knew better when I looked at the box containing the Charlie Brown Christmas tree replica that I had intended to bring to work and thought, "Why bother?"  I left it sitting there, and turned and left for work.

I drove to work with depression.  And when my mind turned to its continued grappling with the questions of why I write, whether I have a core, what is real, what stays, I found the depression gave me clarity of thought.  I can't speak to whether it's worth it, and I'm normally inclined to follow the wisdom of others and distrust anything I think while in the night, but I was grateful for this anyway.  The depression has swept away all protection against seeing myself clearly, leaving frightening, razor-sharp introspection, unfettered honesty.

Why do I write?

I know that in part, I have written to be read, because the loss of that feels just so - like loss.  What does a person do when she writes a book, but shows it to no one?  Why does she attempt to get it published?  Is it always money, or is it to be read, heard, validated?  How does she cope with suddenly being vulnerable to criticism?  That external validation may not be what led me to begin, but it is the cornerstone of why I have continued.  It's the same drive that gave birth to Facebook and keeps it alive.  Tell others or it isn't real; tell others or it didn't happen.  It's likely a conditioned worldview, and I share it.  I wish this was not true, but in the moonlight of depression, I can see it for what it is.  I write to be read.

Why do I write?

It's who I am, not just what I do.  I cannot deny this.  My snippets of thought often come out written in some style.  This is how I would put that, I say without saying it.  I phrase things a certain way when I speak, especially to P.J.  Writing affects me the same way music does.  When I listen to music, my vocal cords contract and lift and form sounds and notes almost involuntarily, and I have to become aware that I'm doing that in order to stop and listen instead.  Likewise, when the world comes to me, I put it into writing in my head.  I seldom realize that I'm doing it.

My Grandma was right.  You can't help writing.  It's who you are.

Why do I write?

If I stopped writing, I would lose part of my identity.  Right now, I don't even know what "my identity" means, but I know I would lose part of it anyway.  A consistent behavior can feel like a core in the midst of existential negation, when nothing else can be detected.  I am looking for a constant Me, and I cannot find her, but there is constant writing.  It's a flimsy twig on the cliff's side that I can clutch with white knuckles.

Why should I write at all?

If no one read what I wrote here, ever again, the blog would become a private notebook.  Something fundamental would be missing if it came down to my writing out loud to a wall instead of a window.  Something rudimentary would remain, the part that needs the unbroken and dependable aspect, the part that cannot help but write, the part that would form and mouth the unheard words because it must.

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