Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year

It's amazing how much significance we attach to this idea of a new year, as though today were really any different than yesterday.

This morning, I was walking the famous dog Isabel alone, down by the Hudson River, pondering the sense and aim of my existence as the sun was rising.

The train roared by on the other side of the river in Westchester; for a moment, I wished that all the sounds of man, and even man himself, would disappear, so that a clear moment of perception of the reeds, a hawk, the silent golden light of the sun, could arise without the intervention of humanity and all its implications.

Such things cannot be. We exist; and at once, we interfere. It is in our nature. We are the genie that has been let out of the bottle.

What is this thing I call my existence; this life? I see that I am filled up with the past, brimming with it, overflowing with it, and bringing all of its results to every moment that I live. Is it a support, or an impediment? It's a mystery. I have lived through this experience I call life, but I have not understood.

This morning, I recalled a foolish thing–it doesn't really matter what it was, it was truly insignificant–I did when I was younger, and intent on destroying myself, not understanding that the world ultimately consumes and destroys all of us, whether we want it to or not.

I recalled this foolish thing, and I felt a genuine sense of remorse. There was remorse of conscience, applied to one tiny point, a microscopic selection, from an entire life. The moment itself could almost have been random; in itself, it didn't signify, it was just a symbol for myself and how I have lived.

In that moment-- where a finer sensation and a real feeling emerged, there, by the marsh, while the snow lay on the ground, and the dog looked for the things that dogs look for-- in that moment, the past dropped away into the present, and there was a wholeness that asked itself what it means to repair the past, to prepare the future.

And, as always, the sorrow.

I live a vast distance away from my life, but it is a distance of the imagination. In reality, it's not possible to go very far from here–here is where I always am, immersed in a life that I will not allow myself to sense, and that I refuse to allow to sense me. My contact with my life is clumsy; how can I improve it, helpless little creature that I am?

There is too much fear in me, and I don't trust enough. I have known this for some time. There is no cure for it.

I'm tempted to try and draw conclusions, to wrap this up in some neat, sage way that might imply I know what I am doing, or am at least clever and able. But none of those things are true, and I am not inclined to conclusions today. So we will leave things here.

May our prayers be heard.

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