Friday, August 21, 2009


So one of the many ways to frame the question is: is it possible to write out of love and plenitude, rather than out of loneliness and wanting?

It is a strange thing to do, to set the bounds and say, joy lives that side, and seeing lives this side, and I am now in the space devoted to seeing.

But maybe much of my unhappiness in the last thirty years has come of not doing that. If you always cross over, joy becomes the enemy of seeing. And not long after that it becomes the enemy of joy.

But turn to the past, the past that has been so much with me recently. Isn't this the choice that I've always been haunted by? -- I can have love, or I can have myself, but I can't have both.

What does "have myself" mean? Not in the psychological sense, of trundling about an enormous ego with me and servicing it all the time, like some hapless Republican with a lemon Hummer. No, it just means resting with what I see as long as it takes to really see it. Not replacing what I see with what anyone else sees. Which means holding on to my solitude, at least, if not to my loneliness.

To change the metaphor, understanding needs a quiet protected space in which to grow. I've always known that. But only in the last few years have I had reason to think that maybe others know that too, and that maybe I don't need to lead a Jeckyll-and-Hyde existence. And if I don't need that, then maybe I can rid my life of its heavy insulating layer of compulsive repetition. Maybe. That's a queer thought, if taken seriously. The exposure of that thought exceeds the exposure of this little experiment. What if I no longer needed to hide?

I'm not sure I can even think much about that, yet.

So tomorrow we go to the beach, to Otter Crest. Gray water and soft light. We'll run backwards through time. We've spent a week there every summer since 1975: every summer leaves a tree ring, or a pond ripple, there. It's a haunted place now, haunted by our own happiness and unhappiness; our kids' happiness and unhappiness. There have been times when the haunting was too intense, and we had to leave. Most memorably, on our honeymoon. It was too hard to share that time of distress and grief with the ghost of our old happiness, and we fled inland, fled to Ashland.

There's no putting the pieces back together again. Every year we make something new, and something old vanishes. I wonder what it's like to be people who go to new places for vacation? I can't imagine. Maybe someday we'll go someplace new: but it will only be if we have to, I think.

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