I believe I am choosing something new
not to suffer uselessly yet still to feel…
(Adrienne Rich, “Splittings”)
It seems so genuine and easy, so much the way one would imagine it to start in a different world. In this one you and I allow ourselves go only this far: relaxing into the warmth of the voice on the other side of the line, smiling to a joke or sharing a sudden moment of silence, happy grin across the face, the ocean of lights of the evening city between us.
Why is it so hard to see or experience something as wonderful without the desire of having it taking a tight grip around the heart the moment I admit to myself that I like it, so it becomes at once desirable? Desire in itself, as known, is a heavy burden to bear.
For a moment we are tempted to take refuge in the world of dreams about something that might be, not what is but in time decide not to take the train to the land of “What if…”s. Finally, we hang up, hardly believing it is happening and the bitter taste of our good-bye stays with me for a while together with the feeling of a loss.
Yet, what could I possibly have lost? A few minutes earlier I was not even aware of the fact of your existence, could not imagine such inexplicable tenderness between complete strangers. What I am mourning now is the forgone chance of a continuation, still hanging on to that moment and adding to it the weight of inner resistance: how could it be like that…?
The mechanism is quite simple: when I like something, I want more of it and inevitably I will try to control it as I entrust it with the responsability of contributing to my happiness. More than the person I like the idea of the person. The person doesn’t have much to do with that idea of mine and will never be able to live up to it.
Who is it we spend our entire life loving?*
As the day comes to an end, so does my feeling of sadness. I feel a warm wave of gratitude filling in the space around and inside me. I take a moment to wish you and your loved ones to stay healthy, happy and safe, put on the coat and walk out the door to meet the winter city. I do not demand to get closer to you so you can make me a happier person. Neither do I feel sorry for myself because you cannot be here with me. Without you knowing it, I release you and let you be free. Nothing stops me from caring about you in the world as it is.
In the West we seem to be very preoccupied with sharpness, seeing with as much detail as possible. It is understandable: we want to get as much information about the world as possible. On the other side, singling out something or someone – object of the immediate attention – in a way excludes everything and everybody else, makes them less visible, less real. Taking in the whole picture, using the peripheral vision is as important for survival, I would think.
According to my friend who is also an optometrist, if we let the eyes wonder at least six meters from our position, they become at once less strained. Staring at something close to us, on the other hand, makes the eyes dry not to mention that it prevents us from seeing a bigger picture of the situation. It seems, letting go of something that I set my eyes on can be quite a healthy exercise. I should remember that for the next time – there is only as much we can see six meters away from us. What if I choose six meters as the starting point and take it from there, all the way to infinity?
When one flower opens, ordinarily dozen open.*
*Kabir in translation of R. Bly