Thursday, May 23, 2024

This, and That

But my question, the linchpin question, is, "will I come through for myself?" Am I actually on my own side? Can I rely on myself to defend myself and protect myself? Because there is a Gollum portion of me that believes that it can hide, and survive in the wretched dark on cold fish, and by throttling the occasional goblin imp. I have betrayed myself, at critical moments of my life. I can see my way to doing it one last time, and I very much do not want to end my story this way.

You see, this is why the Food Thing has been so important to me: it has been the most basic and chronic betrayal of myself. When in stress and doubt I would hide, and let myself down. Let the Dale of the Sun fend for himself, let him be fat and ridiculous! I was going to hide in the dark, and eat, eat until my mouth was raw, eat until my belly was swollen, eat whatever ever I wanted and never stop, not for him, not for anyone.

But we are not two different people. We are one person, in the light or in the dark. That's why the food thing is important. And though the solution may look like simply thwarting and oppressing Gollum, it must not actually be any such thing. It has to be bringing him gently into the light, reminding him of flowers and grass and sunlight, reminding him of when he too had a family, and listened to wonderful tales out of the South. 

We are not equals. I must be the master. Because I can see him clearly, but he can't see me clearly. Because I can say, "this is enough: this is due proportion." When I let him misbehave I am letting him down, as well as myself. He can't look after himself, not really, though he doesn't understand that. 


"There is one God, and his name is Allah," one of them said; and the old man answered, "maybe there is only one Kindred, but there are many people." The roses came back and gave me their scent, yesterday. White roses. If there's not room for them, what is there room for?

But anyway my time for disputation has come and gone. One God or many, my life is His, or theirs. Little noises come piping from our mouths, for a little while, and a wind bends the roses. It's not my part now to quarrel with anyone. And anyway, I only ever quarreled in my head: I taunted my phantasmal enemies, while I grovelled in front of anyone real. It's time to admit that courage has never been my strong suit. Nor do I think I would have done much good, if I had had it. The first struggle is to see things clearly; swinging wildly at shapes in the dark was not going to help anyone.

The Dalai Lama said it was best to stay within your own tradition, "if you could": I used to take that to mean I should be a Christian, if I could, but of course the tradition I was raised in was not Christianity, it was Nothing, the religion of furtively snatched treats, and my god was the Self I was going to be someday but somehow never quite got around to being. Heya! Enough of that. Square One is a fine place to be, if you don't fool yourself into thinking you're somewhere else. Times of collapse are times of beginning.

I used to think that I would figure the world out, and establish a solution, and then impose it -- by force of my brilliance, I guess; that part was always a little hazy -- and the stupidity and hubris of that idea, the revolutionary's idea, has been late in appearing to me. The thing to do was to talk to people, and to come to a common understanding of what was wrong and what needed to be done. That would actually be a political life. Issuing manifestos and marching in shows of ritual (or real) violence is actually about as apolitical as you can get. Politics is talk. It's talking with people you don't understand, and people you don't agree with. It's listening. It's making yourself vulnerable to your neighbors. It's something I can't do. Heya! Enough of that.

So what now, you little rootless last-gasper? Do you go to that little Orthodox church, where the people are so benighted as still to think that a church should be beautiful and services should be reverent? Do you go to that Episcopalian church, where awkward people are actually trying to be nice (in a clumsy and ineffective fashion) to the unfortunate? Do you go to that Zen temple up the street where they take silly Japanese names and dress in weird overalls and take it from the top, all bald heads and rationality? Do you walk under such stars as still can be seen through the city glare, and chant heya? Hah! You don't know. You're hopeless. Go home.