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Sunday, July 11, 2010

That Which Cannot Be Taken

"Only that which cannot be taken away by death is real. Everything else is unreal, it is made of the same stuff dreams are made of." -- Osho

A friend asked me to elucidate this statement as it pertains to my life. As my readers know, I have fallen a considerable distance from faith (also hope and love). I have been grasping at straws, and that is just how elusive my efforts have seemed at saving myself from being awakened every morning with a dark heaviness in my chest, a near inability to breathe, and a mind clogged of any vision beyond my nose. It is only with forcing myself to get up, dress, roll up my bedding, and start the engine that I come out of the bog.

That morning slough happens every day now, and it is a painful reminder that I no longer want the life I am constrained to live. Belief that tomorrow could be different requires a leap of faith for which I am no longer equipped. That kind of faith is a pole vault or a climb up Mt. Everest. What I have had to do, at least, to make myself more comfortable physically is dial down the sensation and shut off my mind, meditational skills I learned long ago.

What remains is me being, me in my beingness and nothing else. I am not relating temporally where there is so much energetic investment and anxiety, nor am I connected spacially where I experience confinement. I am existing outside time and space: I am here but unattached, here but free of judgments. I am bound only to the moment and the barest of daily routines.

I am not talking about the be-here-now mantra I never understood unless, in fact, I now understand it as I never before could. That mantra seemed to imply a spurious break with the past and future in exchange for a romp in an irresponsible moment. One's past and future, like a prison term, are still there the next day. No wonder so many hippies turned out to be investment bankers.

What I am referring to here is shutting out the suppositions, assumptions, theories, what-ifs, as-ifs, and the futurism and nostalgia that perpetuate these states of mind. I am getting empty so that I can see again, if there is any path at all to follow. I am just here, and I do not pretend to know why. Maybe answers will come. Maybe not. I suspect there is no reason to be here, though I would still like to be more comfortable, that is, not living in my truck any longer.

So far so good with these new practices. I really have no choice given the deadly, suffocating heaviness I experience every day. At least, the emotional pain subsides; and I keep it that way, rejecting any thoughts that lead to uncomfortable feelings. I am not ignoring my feelings, but being discriminate as I have walked the way of those difficult feelings before and know those well-worn paths to be unnecessary and unprofitable. I am staying open to new experiences.

All that is left is the living soul experiencing.

One question I am beginning to ask is, "What am I not seeing?" I ask this question particularly in response to running out of money, which, as I reported in a previous post, causes me tremendous fear, even if I do recognize the damage it has done to our society. Nothing changes the need for it, but I am beginning to look for ways around it. Most recently, I cannot pay the cell phone and internet broadband bill. I panicked. I phoned a friend to see if he could pay the bill this month for me, but he is also hard up and goes without broadband.

So, I figure I, too, can go without broadband, though it means driving to places where there is a wi-fi presence that allows me to connect from the street while online in the truck. Of course, there are also cafes and coffee houses where I can plug in as well. Anyway, that was how I used to do it, and I got spoiled. Any convenience is very welcome and usually saves gasoline.

Minus broadband internet, I may be able to keep the phone on, and my best friends are going to appreciate that. Nonetheless, there is someone who would be willing to take calls for me in the interim if I cannot find at least $50 today. And so it goes.

Allowing myself comforts, however small, is becoming a new habit. Yesterday, I had ice cream sandwiches, raspberry with small chocolate bits between two chocolate cookies. Four in all. (I still have Food Stamps!) As a concession, I did not eat lunch or dinner. I was quite full, anyway. I am also sleeping more as a way of worrying less. Worry is tiresome, and I can feel those fine lines around my mouth sagging with every sorrowful thought. I am afraid my mouth will fix in a permanent frown. Hence, I remember to smile, sometimes at nothing. I seem to have created, magically, more time in a day by not worrying. The day seems to race to a close with an excess of concerns and fears in the mind, and my vanity just will not allow me to consider aging in any serious, graceful way quite yet.

Remarkably, despite my mother, despite the life-long agony of feeling motherless, I want to go home and fantasize about being in the house and surroundings of my childhood. I allow it. No good fighting the sense of joy I have sitting for breakfast at the antique table in Mother's light-filled kitchen as the sun tops the huge oaks in the backyard: 10:00 a.m. From now in summer, the heat will pour on thick as a down blanket and all but smother every living thing. Bathing is futile, for as soon as one dries off, the sweat is on again.

There is no use doing much of anything. The old people used to sit on their porches and shell peas or shuck corn in this weather. The slightest breeze would knock together the delicate glass pieces of the Chinese wind chime hung in the corner, the sound wondrously like the tinkling of water. It seems anyone with a porch had one of those once-cheap wind chimes comprising two or three tiers of glass inscribed with Chinese characters held together with paper glued to red string and gathered at the top by a ring. The chimes were available for sale at the dime store for two bucks fifty. Some years later, I bought one in Chinatown and had to spend $35.

If one can only get through the muggy afternoons, the early evenings bring the sweet smell of grasses and wild honeysuckle. Ground fog rises up and sits gently over the neighboring fields like a dewy cloth to relieve the brow of fever. The air is humid, misty, fragrant. The oppression is lifting as night falls and the tender winking lights of the fireflies fill the trees and shrubs as if to rival the display of stars overhead.

There is only one healthful time to eat in the midwestern summer, and that is in early morning, though one is tempted to eat, and hungry, when the sun goes down. But one is also tired at the end of the day, enervated, sapped by any human effort. If there were ever a place to drink a lot of water, it is here. The cool evening air is delicious, stirring musings on life and love and their inevitabilities as one begins to drift to sleep.

But my mind wanders, relaxed in these peaceful thoughts.

That which cannot be taken away by death is what has remained in the heart long after the passing of people, places, and things, which can be evoked again and again and which are met once more in lifetime after lifetime. The heart, connected to the permanent atom of myself, is what transform all experience into light.

Still, I do wish I could go home again.


  1. Kerry,the idea of "home" is such an amazing concept! What is it really? Recently,my father & stepmother sold the house & land they had been living on for the past 30 years. On that land, was also a warehouse that had been converted into an amazing living space for my son & me, when he was a teenager. We had two staircases & upstairs lofts for bedrooms. Downstairs, the ceiling went up two stories & there were concrete floors, where my son & his friends could skateboard & I could make sculpture and paint sans concern over ruining the floors. The kids also had a band, which practised on the 2nd floor balcony next to my son's bedroom. After the sale of the property, the house was moved to another location & the warehouse, which had collapsed under the weight of snow the season before, was bulldozed. Now there is a parking lot and picnic area, as the property was purchased by the local fairgrounds. It is as though no one ever lived there. So, the memories, which you mentioned seem yet more important, because there is no evidence to remind us of our joys & sorrows on that space.

    I have moved 75 times in the past 58 years & people often ask me why I still use clear plastic storage boxes for end tables and most of my furniture folds. It is because "I'm not really here." I know that doesn't actually compute for most people, however, in my mind, I'm always between moves. So, as for "home," I don't think I have any reality on the term. I've coined the phrase "Reality is Overrated" & used to think I'd like to have that on my tombstone. Even in death, I've asked to be cremated and that my son take a trip around the world, scattering my ashes as he travels.

    Strangely perhaps, most of the time, I don't feel like I'm in my body. This seems to be a result of having had so many surgeries. I think the essence of who I am decided that hanging out in my body wasn't exactly a safe place to be. As a result, my body doesn't feel like "home."

    In the end, I'm fond of saying "I Be" and apparently, wherever I'm doing that must be home (for the moment).

  2. Hello Rev. Cynthia,

    Your paragraph on "home" is so insightful and really touches me. I can feel the lose and how very strange our idea of home is since there is no permanence here. It does make me wonder if "home" were evet meant to imply something actual on the ground.

    I am reminded of my father's workplace, which was built of cinder blocks and finally collapsed after a particularly bad winter not long after his death. The building was a local landmark and right across the street from our family home. Now that building exists only in the minds of people who remember it, and those people are getting old and passing.

    Strange, indeed.

  3. Wow Ladies, wow. I can so relate! The closest thing I've ever had to a "real home" has been the various and sundry Kitchens I've spent so much time in over the years. The "house/building/structure" I spent many of my early years in still stands, but aside from the kitchen and small part of the attic I used to hide away in, nothing about that place ever spoke to me of home.

    All my memories are in the kitchen, and a handle of the fireplace in the living room my Mom and I made breakfasts over when Cold New England storms took the power from us. When I was seventeen my father told me not to let the door hit my bum on the way out and that was it for that bit of shelter from the storm as it were.

    While I am technically numbered (barely) among the housed, my place honestly smacks of protracted homelessness. Italian Luggage (plastic bags) and boxes hold my belongings, the chairs are folding camping chairs and an air mattress in the "bedroom" make this place seen like anyone is here. For the most part, even after two years of being here, behind this door, I'm still in ways living out of my car.

    Oddly enough, the closest connection to "home" I have is a place on another world completely that I travel to in my mind. It too is an apartment, but it's near the beach in a quiet sea side town full of old European charm. Were it not for the three moons that trace a path across the sky at night, it could easily be somewhere on the Italian or Greek Coasts. But it's not here.

    When I need to get away from it all, and this life weighs heavy on my heart and soul I retreat there. It feels most like home out of all the places I've "lived" over the years.

    Perhaps one day when I can afford to get the contents out of the locker I have in New England and moved here it may seem more like a place someone lives. My life is a bit of a catch-22. Money I spend every month on the rent for the locker I could save to move the stuff out of the locker. I have no idea how I'm going to make that work.

    When I finally once again slip away from this mortal coil I should think I'll go spend some years living at that place that is my old refuge from the weight and pain of this world. I should like to think I'll retire there.

    Till then "I'm not really here" either. And that kinda hurts. I dream of having a quiet safe, comfortable, place with a wonderful kitchen, lots of sunlight, fresh bread and tea.

    My kitchen here is an insult to my soul. I literally have to step out of it to open the fridge. But I can bake my bread, and make my tea. It's in those times as I'm sipping tea, the smell of fresh bread baking, that this place reminds me of all those years ago in the kitchen with my Mom.

  4. Dear Samantha,

    Thank you for adding your experience to the topic of "home," and how interesting your story is. We seem cut of a similar fabric.

    How home can be so etheric and so real at the same time is quite a puzzler. You give me so much to thing about.

    Thank you!

  5. Just thinking about you, Kerry. I hope you are well. I just read about this place and it seems they offer a service that may help: http://www.dreamsforchange.org/
    Source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/sep/22/midway-district-fights-back-against-urban-campers/#comment-80083091
    Anyway, sending love and thoughts of protection your way. Please take care.

  6. Oh, Kerry... where are you?

    Hope you're okay.