Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Denim Couch My Prison

I wonder how the abdominal muscles stay in shape for vomiting. For months, or years, I don't use them for that, but when the time comes they empty my stomach with force and alacrity, as if I'd been practicing for weeks. How do they do that?

I wonder about wanting to be elsewhere, living for the future or for the past, camping in our lives rather than dwelling in them. Is wanting to be enlightened is just another version of this wanting to be somewhere else? I think so. So the part of Dharma that's thinking about it, writing about it, arguing about it is just the same old thing. Without practice, that is. You have to start somewhere and catch hold of something.

"I want to be dead," I heard myself saying, in the throes of this sickness.

I was surprised to hear myself say that. "You mean, 'I want to be well,' don't you?" I asked.

I considered. "I can't imagine being well," I answered. "So I want to be dead."

"But you can't imagine being dead either."

"No, but I can imagine the petulance of wanting it. I can't imagine the hope of getting well."

Our neighbor on the corner planted some trees, about ten years ago, that have grown very tall: they are strangly pale, all light-gray, white, and silver. I can see them through the little window above the mantel, from this denim couch my prison.

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