Saturday, November 5, 2016

I'm Gonna Take

I'm gonna take that fear and wear it like a crown.

- Rebekka Karijord, Wear It Like a Crown

* * *

The Japanese phrase "wabi sabi" roughly translated means a lonely freedom, a solitary melancholy, a stoic acceptance of change, the ability to hold life with an open palm. It is the source of haiku. It can become precious, self-referential in unskilled hands. The best haiku is an explosion outward: revealing the sum of life in the particular. But outside and beyond haiku, past poetry itself, I am certain that wabi sabi is something altogether different. It is a type of fearlessness. Neither proud nor foolish, it is a courage to persist, to journey on regardless of hardship, equity or justice. As such it is fiercely subversive. It does not require being alone, but draws its strength from the ability to be alone, to choose for oneself how one will encounter the road, to know, just as haiku knows, that the individual, the specific, the momentary is eternal and encounters the universal by the very nature of its arc, that the arc of one's life is the very nature of eternity. We are eternal while we last. By our individual names we contain multitudes. 

All of this may or may not be true to you. It may or may not strike you as a type of poetry. What cannot be dismissed is that such things as wabi sabi and haiku and the arc of our days insist upon facing our fears (loss, money, love, adequacy, our physical selves, death, illness) and make our way not in spite of them, but because of them.

This is great poetry to do so.

* * *

We ebb and flow. We ascend and decline. We run on and we run on fumes. We burn days like a spendthrift. We count them like a miser. We want to make the good times last and the bad times to disappear. We want the bills paid and bit more. We desire love and touch. We get drunk and don't mind the hangovers (for a while), then, then, then, then, then, then, then, something shifts. We learn hunger, dis-satisfaction. We notice calendars. Our children seem ungrateful. Our partners unfaithful. Everyone is hungry though their bellies are full.

Sick on my journey
Now only my dreams
Wander the empty fields

We get sick on the journey. What we began with hope or enthusiasm, or at least the sense that we'd find our place, is detoured through losses and fears. We stumble over roots. We fear the dark. We drink too much, distrust too much, withdraw by degrees and bitterness comes easily. This is the sick part of the journey. Wabi sabi tells me I am free of constraints, tells me I am free to meet nature: my nature, God's nature, the natural world of leaf and worm and cycles and rain and snow and its effect on each and all. Bitterness is the opposite of freedom. The narrow mind the narrow gate while the world is free and open. It is refusal because it is hard or unwanted. But that is of no matter. What matters is your willingness to move past the sickness of wanting what you don't have and encountering the world as it is, where you take the fear and wear it like a crown.

This is the single most subversive act available to any of us: to journey on.

When you cease trying to box life into a shape you approve of, life quits resisting you. When you accept your fears, the amor fati Nietzsche called for,  the love of one's fate, when you are able to name the fear and not run from it, but defuse its power by wearing it, by taking it by the hand showing it the world before you, you become free, a solitary being at home in the world. But to be clear: you, as a single being, in this time and place, are, of course and by needs be the reflection of all that is not you. You are all beings, all times, all distances, all suffering, all joys, all that has been experienced. Your eyes are the eyes of God, and if God is too much, then your eyes are how I will see.

A wild sea
And arching to Sado Island
the Milky Way

* * *

We need poetry for the road. We need poetry to make it through the sickness that tells us we're wrong, that we've been wrong for some time. We need poetry like graffiti to let us know others have made their way. We need their stories so we can venture our own. If one can transform sickness and fear, then all can. It is how any of this works.

The old dog
Sleeps heavily–
A lifetime of rabbits

* * *

I wish you well.

__________



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