In the tension between astringent mind and sloppy emotion, I am landing in the slipshod stuff of emotion. That is my selected connection to God – and don’t we all want to be connected to God, don’t we all intuit “home” and miss it?
The poet Jane Hirshfield – we used to be email friends many years ago – called simultaneously seeing and living in both mind and emotion as “double vision,” feeling passion and remaining dispassionate at the same time. She followed Zen and pulls you into the life of a tree or a rabbit or a dog or a jar of jam as though it is the story of all existence right there right then. But it makes me ache, that discipline. I want more. I want to dance and know not that I’m in the thrall of what’s around me but that I am disturbing that thrall. I dance therefore I am.
There is nothing like the juxtaposition of the sense of being surrounded by the just-released dancing spirit of your just-deceased (and until then rule-bound) mother and seeing your 4-year-old granddaughter dance her “Wonder Woman Ballet” to understand that there are “more things in heaven and earth, . . .” and so forth than analytical understanding. There is STUFF. There are banana peels to slip on and finger cuts in the kitchen and lost mittens and weather that slams you one way or another. There is love and passion and desire that make you salivate. Your body knows.
And I will meditate, I will take that up again. Heaven knows, my body knows that my mind is cluttered to overflowing, that my dreams are so filled with Bosch-esque images of sight and sound and touch, both good and bad, that no storyline has any hope of shining through, no dream messages have a chance to guide me. Sleep is still assigned as cleaner-upper – which is vital, but meditation is too. When was my mind last clear of want and need and habits and ruts and patterns? When was my mind empty and light as the air under a bird’s wings?
Yes, I know that being inside passion and being outside as observer contradict. I know that an empty mind is also a portal to the Greater Essence, the thing I’m trying to evoke in my garden where I planted nearly 100 iris bulbs this fall on the theory that gardens are poetry overlaid on Source Emptiness.
Yes, I know that mind stillness and emotions have both separately been embraced as being with God. You do understand here that I’m not even vaguely talking of the costumed creature that religions call God, don’t you?
And don’t talk to me about mind-body balance. Got that half a lifetime ago.
Because there is dancing, wildly without form, that is sometimes called for. Don’t talk to me about Bach and mathematical relationships, not even the Golden Mean. Because there are also supernovas and black holes and the touch of a rose petal and their math is beyond calculation.
Surely my body is fighting now to escape death, to grab the life left of a person with no parents left. Surely that is true. Surely it wants to escape a death of my spirit before the death of itself. Surely that, too, is true. And that involves passion, large passion even about small things.
The intent is not to go splat, I am not self-destructive. The intent is to survive the super-reality that being alive is such a large thing that we all always filter it into bits and pieces so we can have the safety of the illusion that we understand or manipulate our life. If we hear only one note of the symphony, we can feel master of it, fools that we are.
How much energy, how much electricity bursts one’s cells, overcomes one’s rational mind? How much? I have no illusion that I can process the whole symphony, but maybe instead of one note or one instrument I can gain a passage, a measure or two, the high notes of the flute or the vibrations of the cello. Or with luck and trying and persistence maybe sometimes both at once . . .
. . . because that is what processing pain and loss and birth and creation and living here in bodies is about. We cannot know the whole symphony until we can hear more than one thing at a time . . . and somewhere in there passion rises not because we start to understand but because we begin to feel. I trust this impulse even though I feel it could burst open my mind into the terrifying nothingness of salvation.