Sunday, July 30, 2017


This morning for once I remembered a dream. In it, I’d been very sick, with something like the plague.  Large bloody boils like eyes had taken over the cavities of my joints. A young woman with brown wavy hair, thin and long, was teaching me. She explained that I was so ill because I saw God as representing Perfection and Ideals instead of pure, simple love and acceptance. She noted that I must replace the steely spires of ambition to perfection, Godliness—wouldn’t it be lovely to be beyond reproach? Maybe these monuments to projected worth are enclosed in mirrored glass. She urged me to replace this with something along the lines of a lighthouse—visible to its core, and shining light. Wherever it shines brings safety, bliss, love, joy, celebration, bringing eyes to see and recover the lost. In being sick in this way, I can’t help but think I represent not only myself but most I know who continually explain what is best and what needs improving, splitting hair after hair, giving enormous power to details of utter insignificance in order to quell the anxiety provoked by tremendous formless form. Solving problems that create new problems. 

Recently I was taking the subway out of the neighborhood on a hot and grimy day. As I descended the staircase I noticed a woman standing at its base, one hand resting on a shopping cart full of large, tightly-packed grey plastic bags, crammed together like lozenges, more on the ground next to her. When I passed by her, wondering how and who would help her get her load upstairs, she laughed, her dark and reddish hair seemingly caught by wind. When others passed her by she laughed too. I got on the train feeling uneasy for walking by such an obvious need, as many of us do that all the time.  I wondered if she could leave any of that stuff behind for easier traveling. When I returned to the spot after my errand, she was gone. Had someone met her, someone she knew? Someone very strong?

The next day I picked up a volume of Hafiz poems because, as usual, I was hungry for beauty and the fire in the house of my life was growing cold. At random, the book opened to The Bag Lady. In the poem Hafiz adopts a motif of being blissful in the nomadic life of homelessness now that he knew wherever he went was divine. I thought about the women with the bags. The mystery of  laughter and flying hair still worked at me, not knowing who she’d become. Because no form could ever hold her secure, perhaps she took her own shape, laughing.

These years I find, in the writings and in the lives of many now esteemed in their professions, traces of madmen and women bitten by love for those scrambling or huddled at the base of the stairs, descending with eyes like flashlights, ready to lift them up.  Heart-thinkers, unencumbered by oughts and shoulds, molds and models. I take a few steps up, drop my flashlight, roll down, climb up again. What enchantment lies between us and the capacity to feel awe for all things? Maybe it’s the ash and cold of a smothered fire. 

No comments: