Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Of All That

Of all that God has shown me
I can speak just the smallest word,
Not more than a honey bee
Takes on her foot
From an overspilling jar.

- Mechthild of Magdeburg

* * *

I am verbose. I spill words the way drunks spill beer. I listen for my voice in words, to catch the cadence and rhythms of my thoughts. I write and write and talk and talk and it is what I do. But, in truth, I cannot say a single thing that I know. Either it is unsayable or unknown and in either case all of these words are shadow puppets trying to pantomime a flash at the corner of my eye. It is both too much and not enough for me to write these things out, for you to read them, for me to presume to say a word. Silence is sweet to me because I can pull back and just listen once in a while.

The past few days have been quiet. Very little written. Not much said. Out of that quietude, that interval of relative quiet I heard a screaming, a howling darkness. It seemed to belong to all of us. It kept me silenced because of its raw, ragged insistence. It said: you don't understand, you cannot know my pain, my suffering, you know nothing of where I am or my losses or my anger or my desire to be rid of being this lost. All of your words are meaningless to me. Platitudes. Pablum. Shit. They mean shit to me.

And I cannot argue that truth. Words are paltry things. Approximations for some other thing and while I find them to be beautiful from time to time their beauty is often held in the distance between my desire and the desired. Sweetness is there. A crack of light in the door that leaves nothing to compare. You know this feeling as well. The ineffable knowledge that you have caught a glimpse of something but have no way of making another understand other than words.

This is so. This is so. This is so.

But in the end neither you nor I can know another's mind. We cannot feel what they feel. We cannot know what they know. And if they are in pain, if the howling storm of depression has them in its grip, if they cannot let go of a tragedy, of a loss, of being lost, of never being able to forgive themselves for the wounds they delivered, the wounds they think they deserved, for the whole ball of wax, our words are meaningless. Our words become further proofs of their insidious pain. But we offer the words anyway for it is all we have to give - this transmission of knowledge, hoping it all makes it through, hoping it isn't distorted, lost in translation, that out of love we offer our words of hope and encouragement and logic and reason and love, sweetgodalmighty love.

And we are not wrong to try, but words really aren't the best way for us help.

Compassion is.

* * *

The word "compassion" is bandied about like a cure-all, a magic spell, a word that contains healing powers just by uttering it. Bullshit. There is no healing in a word. Compassion is a noun, where it needs to be a verb.

Of all the things I know, of the things I know in part, of all the things I think I know, but actually have it wrong, all that matters is that we be kinder and gentler to one another than we are. We do not, I do not, you do not know exactly what another is going through. You cannot. Language helps us understand and give names to these concepts, but there is no bridging that gap, that distance between you and I except by being present, by each other's side, without judgment or complaint. This is the beginning of compassion.

* * *

I write here in a voice that is direct, sometimes caustic, certainly full of itself, hopefully at times with more elegance than I have away from the page. I presume to speak of unfucking our lives because, well, I've fucked mine up and writing is how I try to unfuck it. I use the words of others to help me get started and then I rant downstream from there. I want to embolden you. I want to remind you that your life is beautiful regardless of your circumstance. I want you to feel less alone, for aloneness is a great sorrow. I want all of these things, to be able to do these things - for us both. And after the last few days, with so much talk about depression and the headlong rush to great, great harm, I just wanted to say I can't say a thing that truly matters. But I can be here. I can provide this for you to use as a place to do some of your healing. I have no answers. I am a clod of clay.

All I know is that a bee's foot is a very small thing and it carries with it every bloom.

You are not alone.

* * *



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