Seeing in Two Parts
There is a silence that I've longed for all my life. The silence of bare naked seeing.
Recently, I've admitted, after many long years of hiding the knowledge to myself, that I have constructed another kind of silence. The silence of not being seen.
It's useful, if one does not wish to be seen, to compose a life where the closest people to you do not see you. Useful and strategically sound. Then you can spend years going on and on about how you long to be seen. You can defend yourself with righteous indignation, because who does not deserve to be seen for who they are?
And then the story becomes so familiar, fortified by time and a string of similar relationship scenarios that you can easily tell yourself that you must be so deep, so intense, so profound that others just cannot meet you where you're at. That kind of grandiosity doesn't hold up, though, and it's much easier anyway to believe that really, you suspect, there is something fundamentally flawed about your character, deeper than that, actually, yes, deeper than that. You believe innately that you might not have a right to exist at all.
That's how it begins anyway, birth messages and all. From the beginning: See me, see me, see me, see me, see me, see me, see me! precedes all your footsteps, all outstretches of hands and arms and torsos and legs and pelvic swivels, all the way to each and every bow on sacred temple floors.
Twenty years into that song and dance, three or four rapes or more (you lose count), fifty landings and moves in the first decade of adulthood, a few life threatening escapes, and a handful of simple heartbreaks, and suddenly, you're ready to take the back seat.
You don't want to be seen anymore. You don't want to see yourself anymore. Or, rather, you never stopped, never got the chance to see yourself behind all that desperation in the first place. The next time someone doesn't look at you, doesn't even ask you anything about yourself, isn't interested in your amazing story, you're so relieved that you say, yes, let's get married.
You know what I'm going to say next.
There's no telling just how far into a corner you can paint yourself with that kind of agreement, that level of disagreement with yourself. It seems to be a family thing, too, so that makes the habit louder and more insidious that you previously assumed. How bad is it really to just want to hide out?
You just want to hide. Don't want to play anymore. You're going to take your things and go home. But you can't find home when you're hiding from yourself.
300 pages sit in front of me and for two years I cannot get past the beginning, wanting to get it right. It's a scene from the birth canal, and a memory of eyes being open.
It's a memory of being awake.
In my book of letters to River I want to get it right, the one distinguishing factor about her mother, that no matter what happens, no matter how great the forgetting, how deeply I fall into patterns that will shield us from seeing each other....I want her to know that I see.
And I want to get past the shame of being able to see.
I want to forgive myself for walking so far into people that I lost myself before I ever had one, because I could see their radiance when they could not. I could see far into the ancestry of their cells before they ever had a self from which to understand that kind of union. I could see the originating seed of pain in the heart and I went straight for sending it love. I want to forgive their rage and violence for being exposed.
I want to forgive the beauty for making the impulse move me so directly.
I want to forgive the tantric mess of it all. Sexual strength and isoteric flowering, spirits in bodies that could not possibly hold that energetic force. I want to forgive how karmic power can overwhelm a small child. How karmic power moves a young body into ancient love battles that are doomed, and nonetheless essential to engage, if only to feel that the spirit does, indeed, carry over from past places and times.
Indeed, better to know, to see, to be, to feel out extremely if that's the impulse, than to forget. Better to run that scream, better to run that spirit memory through the unknowing limbs of childhood than forget.
But what to do with all that sight when there's nothing to do. You're three and six and nine and fourteen. You've already glimpsed more craziness and terror than one would think possible in 1975, middle-American neighborhood. Already glimpsed altered states so comprehensive, puddles opening on blacktop bubbles after rain, you just don't know what to do next. You don't know yet what, exactly, is doing you. What moves the seeing. What looks behind the eyes. You don't know how to turn around, from the inside, how to turn that infusion spotlight back upon itself.
You don't know how to ride that chariot, you haven't found that protection yet. You don't know how to pray.
Awakening is a partial movement, pain and pleasure still separate. Being awake, pain and pleasure in one grip, ravaging and healing - you just can't tell the difference.
The other night, out with my oldest friend, first real love, I feel the truth of this whole story of seeing. I wonder why his wife does not want to become friends with me, why he has not reached out more for help from me through the years. "Don't you get it? Where you go, she can't go. She can't go there. And I don't want to go there. Where you can go....I don't want that. I want to watch Bevis and Butthead and live my life."
"I know, I feel that way about myself, too." I can get fat, read stupid magazines, watch all the stupid TV in the world. I can't hide, it's not possible. Therein lies the silence of suffering.
That young girl in me, eyes so wide open, so freaking intensely open.......
Looking over at him, he looks like a boy again, all that Indian medicine in his eyes, blazing. And I have to leave it at that. Some of us get to have a choice about seeing....and some of us don't. That's the long and short of it. Therein lies the truth.
I get so drunk that night that after he leaves the restaurant I sit in my car reeling. Thank you, Jess, for coming to get me.
Days go by and I work it all in silence, no sleep for me. Peeling away all the effort, suffering rests in simple tiredness. From bottom-dwelling tiredness, simple joy. Like I want to just be who I am.
Last night, fifty long nights into aloneness, I take off my clothes and cross over to the other side of the bed. Cross over and let the dark be my eyes. Let whatever wants to remain in the dark stay hidden. It's ok. I'll come to her and I'll come to him with the spirit of that girl, the way she is so willing to lend compassion, to lend her eyes to those who cannot see.
*photo: google images, National Geographic