Sometimes changes take place within us, so far beneath the surface that we don't know what they are. But there are ripples moving outward across the still pond.
Lately, I don't feel social at all. Yet here I am writing this, and writing is a form of socializing, reaching out through language to touch another, to be touched.
Do you ever feel lonely, but you don't want to be with anyone? It seems like too much work to socialize, to figure it out, where to go, what to do, planning. And then talking. Listening to opinions, issues, personal, political issues, with the world, other people, dogs.
I played tennis yesterday, and my partner brought her small dog with her, her small, well-trained dog onto the court, a public court. A Japanese man and a young boy (I found out later it was his son) were playing on the court next to ours. They were hitting many practice balls, balls were all over the court. However, my friend's dog did not go chasing after the balls. The dog has been on tennis courts for years, and knows how to conduct its dog-self in that situation.
But the man came over and told my friend to get her dog off the court. He said it was a rule, no dogs on the court, and his voice was loud, authoritative, harsh, rude, his teeth hanging out of his mouth like fangs or a vicious dog's.
My friend told him that her dog wouldn't bother him.
He yelled and yelled, saying we were breaking the rules, to get her fucking dog off the court. He raised his racquet. He advanced toward my friend and her dog.
Suffice it to say, all hell broke loose. A shouting, swearing match ensued. I didn't participate, except I'd told the man earlier to not to talk to us in that tone of voice, to calm down. That was as useful as trying to stop a hurricane by raising your hand, palm out, and staying, "Stop."
I've been in way too many of these confrontations in the past, some initiated by me, unfortunately, so I'm choosing to become ultra-aware and bowing out now whenever possible, or at least not add any fuel to the fire. So I stood with the boy, watching the fray, and I said, "Your father is very angry."
The boy replied, "She broke the rule. My father told her no dogs on the court." His little boy's face was hard and resolute, his eyes dull with certainty and righteousness and fear of his father.
I wondered if the man would go home that evening and scream at his wife and kick his own dog or maybe start World War III if he had the opportunity.
My friend and I went to another tennis court. We played tennis for an hour and a half. Her dog lay under the bench there, quiet, calm, and alert for an hour and a half.
The man showed us his pain-body in action. (Definition of pain-body, see previous blog, "Into the Beauty." )
Dense and negative, he spewed it all over the tennis court, and made sure his son got a big blob of it on himself probably forever or maybe he can wash it off with thousands of dollars of therapy. I think if that man had a gun, he would have killed us and the dog.
Lately, I'm just not that thrilled with socializing. Sometimes I wonder if I should enter a monastery. Maybe stay there for a year or five. And do what? Being a writer already requires many hours spent in the monastic writing room of solitude. I'm alone plenty.
But I seem to be choosing to spend even more time alone than ever.
I'm of two minds about it: I want to get back out there more, and I don't.
I understand Emily Dickinson completely. Although I'm not going to start wearing a white dress every day.
In the monastery, you are free from the chaos and the yelling, the calamity of daily existence, the ego wars, but you miss the beauty and light and tenderness of company. The laughter, oh, the laughter, the best part of humanity. I sit here right now, remembering times I've laughed with someone. I'm not saying it's better than good sex, but laughing is, to me, like good sex. It is better than sex. It is like great love. I can't think of anything better to do in this life than laughing your ass off with someone. Hey, and then have good sex. That's what I want for my birthday.
I want to belong to the world, but I also turn away from it so often. When I think back to my beginnings, it has always been this way.
Sometimes my students choose the prompt to write about their first memory. My first memory is when I was three years old. I almost drowned in the ocean, in Long Beach, California.
I remember walking into the water. I remember how beautiful it was, the sunlight cascading around me through the dark green water. I remember the buoyancy, the quiet, the peace, no fear, and the freedom. I had no resistance. I rolled with it. I was surrendered, and it was wonderful.
Then I was yanked up. I lay on the ground, a stabbing pain in my chest, my father bending over me, bringing me back to life, a circle of people yelling, yelling, yelling.
The dark sea loved me. That's how it felt. I wasn't interested in coming back. But I was only three years old. I had more memories from beyond the world of form than from this world. I wasn't that interested in the world of form.
But is that statement true? No and yes. Who knows what I thought then. I just thought the people standing around me yelling and yelling were scary and noisy and what the hell was their problem? All I did was drown.
I want to join the world and I want to walk away from it, from that yelling circle.
The world is made of yelling, of hardened opinions and pain. The world is made of song, of quiet conversation and laughter and joy.
Surrender, I think. You are the one who must surrender. To the dark and light sea of this world of form. Yield. Let the man scream and scream about the rules. Notice it's you screaming, it's you yelling against what is, you who wants to have it your way, always your way, just the way you want it.
It's the ego again and again, screaming out its wants and needs.
I'm not sure what this essay is about. Dear students, what is my thesis?
Surrender, I guess.
I remember reading the book, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. She said, "Everything in this world is either love or a call for love."
So if you're ever wondering what's going on around you, this is what's going on.
The man on the tennis court was really yelling, "Love me! Love me!"
I want to say, "Honey, it isn't my responsibility."
But somehow it is.
We're all in this damn thing together.
Ripples, ripples, moving outward from the deep pond.
So this is it for now. And now is all there is and its chaotic peaceful terrible beautiful itness of love and the call for love.
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