Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Paint it White

I want to see the sun
blotted out from the sky.


Mist shading sometimes into rain: the sky a damp, indistinct gray-white. June in western Oregon: the sort of June that seems right and proper to me, Spring as I have always known it. Everything more than a few yards away is softened and blurred a little. That's how I prefer it. I don't like the glaring light and harsh lines of what they call beautiful days. Not for everyday living.

Summer will come of course, a few weeks of what people call good weather, and women will wear distracting clothes, and I'll glance at them guardedly, careful to betray no unbecoming yearning. It's wearing, even exhausting, sometimes: even now, when I no longer particularly cultivate desire, the habits of a lifetime still drive me. Wanting, and wanting to appear not to be wanting – how much of the energy of my life has disappeared into that fruitless back-and-forth? Most of it, maybe. What Buddhism has given me, above all its other gifts, has been other ways to think about desire, other things to build with it than envy or covetousness or shame. I'm a slow learner, but that's not the Buddha's fault. The fact that I'm learning at all is what I pause on.

Wilder, deeper, more intractable, is love itself, and grief: I am helpless and blinded by both of those. That, maybe, is the work of another lifetime.

11 comments:

Patry Francis said...

(o)

rbarenblat said...

I don't see why yearning ought to be unbecoming. But maybe that's just me. I do hear you about the gift of having other ways to think about desire, other things to build with it. Yes.

Zhoen said...

Eh. Look. That's part of why some women dress that way. Avoid the leer, don't approach or cat-call, but feel free to look with kind appreciation. D had to deal with that in Boston, when the weather got warm, Boston jiggled. On the streets, on the train, even I felt a bit slapped in the face with it. So we both looked, no big deal.

Dale said...

Oh, I look :-) With pleasure. But it is a stress, does set up an interior struggle, keeping the gaze polite and casual. I used not to be even aware that there was an unpleasant aspect to it. But there is.

Especially now that I'm older, and I'm quite well aware that these displays are not intended for me, there's a sense that I'm being made a fool of. Which, as I tune to it, I realize I actually used to feel quite wounded by, even when I was young enough that the displays might have been intended for me. Not of course that any one was ever setting out to make a fool of me, or to wound me. Just collateral damage :-)

marly said...

All poets must follow The Way of the Fool. Or at least this one does!

I'm terribly far behind in Moledom after being away so long, and now I have mountains of NBA books to read... Bit woeful, being far behind in both!

Dale said...

Can't be behind in Moledom, Marly: it's an obligation-free zone. xo

Zhoen said...

There is a story, of a young Buddhist monk and his teacher. A young woman at the edge of the river, the old monk picks her up and carries her over, the young monk quietly horrified. The next day, still bothered, he asks, "Why did you carry her, we are not supposed to touch women!"

And the old monk says, "I left her at the other side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?"

Anne said...

When my youngest son was 14 he insisted on walking well behind me in the grocery store (just for instance) so nobody would know he was with his ever embarrassing mother. I tried to explain to him that nobody was at all interested in him or his embarrassing mother. Here's a little bit of motherly advice for my dear friend Dale: nobody will notice if you look -- even if you ogle. You are fast approaching the age of invisibility. Young people simply do not see older people. So gaze away at your heart's content, without regret.. Jerry does every chance he gets, and it entertains me to see him do it.

Dale said...

Thanks, all! But I can see I didn't quite convey my meaning. More anon, maybe... good night for now!

marly youmans said...

P'rhaps not, but that doesn't mean that I don't have desires to do other than I am doing!

Dale said...

:-) Now that would be an extravagant wish! To never do other than one desired! Perhaps after all that lurks behind these thoughts: the old dream of utopia.