Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Me

On waking this morning early, I found myself trying to dig deeper, in the darkness, into what it is that drives me to do this writing, and now this speaking and this serious effort I'm engaged in, to have people read what I write. I have given myself the easy answers--the desire to make a contribution, to share my ideas, even, perhaps, to offer consolation, healing of a sort to those with whom I share the compulsion to write, to make a painting, sing a song...

And I think the most honest clarity I came to had to do with making my presence known. We are given so short a span of human life, we cannot help but be troubled by our own mortality--if we choose, that is, to go deeper than our small, immediate, passing needs, and pains, and pleasures. There is of course that old, Romantic myth: that we seek immortality through the art we make, the poems that we write. And what I'm thinking may be related to that notion, but it's not so grand; it's self-important, yes, but in a relatively minor key. It's that old "Kilroy was here" impulse to leave a marker, no matter how trivial, to say that "I was here"--in this place, on this planet, at this time.

And if I dig a little deeper yet, I realize that, more importantly, it's about making myself known. Not just that anonymous Kilroy, but this me--something of a delusion, perhaps, if you happen to be a Buddhist, but a compelling one. And even for a good Buddhist, surely, it's important to actually know this me, to come to terms with it, before I am able to move past it. (I guess I haven't done that yet!) For myself, as a writer, the writing is a way of doing just that; and the making myself known, the usually secret or unacknowledged desire to be seen for who I am--because I honesty believe myself, by contradiction, to be a rather private person--the "publication" of myself becomes a way of testing the authenticity of what I discover, of what I declare to be this "me."

There's also the matter of recognition. And by this I don't mean recognition in the sense of honoring: what a terrific guy, how smart, how eloquent. No. I mean recognition in the sense of saying, yes, that's me, too, I recognize some part of myself in what is written here. That's what I read for, to learn more about myself. And I believe that the deeper I can probe into this self I have, the more intimately I can speak to other selves, who may be able to recognize themselves in me. It's about our common humanity, then, about that place where we are all the same, despite those superficial differences that separate us from each other.

Which brings me back, perhaps, to the idea of healing. Writing, for me, is certainly a kind of healing. It's a way of discovering for myself what hurts, what troubles, what sends me skittering off course. And if I can do it for myself, in the process of self-discovery that is writing, then perhaps, if my way of thinking about all this holds true, I can dream that it's possible my writing may do the same for others, too...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your courage and your contribution. You are brave to put yourself out there to us and brave to continue that inner search. The writing aids you in that quest. Yes, you are eloquent, yes, you have acheived a fair amount of recognition and praise, but I believe your intent is pure and your desire for healing for yourself and others comes from love. I'm all about love and healing... so, thank you again. I'll go home tonight and attempt, again, to write of myself, to release some of myself. Love, Kilroy.

colin said...

So, I read your words, look at your photo and recognize myself. the experience is tinged with the subtle private and perplexing embarrassment of seeing my own 'uniqueness' in my brother. Ten or so years ago I went to a ballet...
While watching a young Bolshoi Super-star ballet dancer begin his performance, I was instantly & profoundly plunged into a familiar abyss of caustic envy, self-loathing and anger. Here was a boy (19-20 yrs old) at the top of his profession with the world acknowledging his achievements. There was I, a 50-something aspirant for artistic greatness with very little to show for my longer period of opportunity, nor any affirmation of any particular achievement. By some unexpected grace, I was plucked from this primordial stew and lofted to a perception which has prevented my return to such gnawing envy. The vision offered to me was the following... I saw God Almighty in full splendor, He looked identical to Michael Angelos' white bearded wonder. The revelation was that the white hairs of his majestic beard are actually optical fibers and if you take one and look into its end, you might see the young and gifted ballet dancer. Look into the end of another and you may see the person who cuts your hair... I understand that we are all hairs on God's venerable face and that that is all there is to it. Now you know all about me. Pardon the familiarity... Colin Lambert

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, both, for these responses!

Aaron said...

enjoyed; looking forward to more!

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Aaron. Welcome to The Buddha Diaries--if, as I assume, you're new here. Sounds like bleak weather in PA!