What If

What do you do

when you love someone so much

but you don’t know how to tell them

so that they truly hear it?

 

What if that person is yourself?

 

August 26, 2016

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Things

Whatever comes naturally–

that is the “right” thing

that is the “wrong” thing

well, it’s just a “thing.”

Perhaps it’s “nothing.”

This feeling of trying

to reach out and grasp

an answer out of thin air

I’ve been chasing it

for a long, long time,

but not as long as I have been

breathing, kicking, speaking

these “things” we advocate for

and believe in are just “no things”

living and dying and rising

and settling for rather than loving

“Trust me,” says the wind,

“Listen,” says the water,

“You’re here!” says the bird.

Meditate on that.

Find your passion.

Be the passion

that allows you to be.

 

July 20, 2016

The Human Condition

Alone

in my head

how did this happen again?

Afraid of myself

more than anyone else

afraid of my mind’s tricks

like the devil

part of me runs,

part of me nourishes.

 

External realities

versus internal dimensionality

my vulnerability

got me everything good

and everything bad

trust my mind–

it is strong,

then flies out the window.

 

All I can do now

is observe the mess I am in:

feel the anxiety,

the past pain,

the current waves of doubt

and listen to the monster truck

of thoughts roll through my head

as if it was the last track in the world.

 

Perhaps this is the most natural thing:

to let up, to let it win and lose

and nothing and everything

to let the stories be

to let the suicide be

to let my knowledge free

to let my wisdom bring

me the greatest joy I’ve ever known:

the expanse of life

growing in and out

nothing the same at any moment

love blossoming in my bones

while fear eats my mind–

it’s just one iteration

of the human condition,

is it not?

 

So eat away,

my friend fear…

I’m not sure what role the pills will play

but life can’t get away

simply because experience and temperament

created a shift in my thinking

understand that this is still

my gift of a body

and I respect its reaction–

mind, body, and soul connected–

to the darkest corners of life…

sweet loneliness turned sour

and still with age, abandonment

of reason with one phone call,

one bad dream…

and still the pure light of tomorrow…

the pureness of now.

 

April 1, 2016

 

More than anything, this is a release of thoughts and feelings surrounding mental health and my own struggles/my family’s struggles and experiences (the mention of suicide, a phone call and pills allude to a tragic family event) with the topic.  

You are never alone, no matter what unfolds in your life.  It can be difficult to find meaning out of suffering and loss, but it is, indefinitely, part of the human condition…and through the cracks, love and art can find their way out. 

Teacher

In times

of good

and bad

I let nature

be my teacher.

 

One leaf

sways

as gently

as a summer song,

not so I can sing along–

but to remind me

that I belong

in these last pieces

of greenery,

they are not simple

scenery

they are our home

a good climb upon a hill

does more for me

than an hour in mass,

sings me back the source

layered in my own skin

not to spite religion

but society warms itself

on separation,

these leaves

that sway

sing songs of connection

of life

that will stand

long after we fall–

no human controls all.

 

Instead I open up

my window,

lean into the wind

and listen.

 

January 10, 2016

A Poem

Sometimes,

it’s not enough

to write a poem.

……………………………………….

“Feel it on your back,”

she told me

from the church cellar.

 

“Know it by name,”

he whispered

through the garden;

he chased the snake

but only I could tell.

 

“Let it loose,”

she sang,

leading the students to the edge,

bird cage in hand,

lowering her fingers to the door.

 

Sometimes,

it’s not enough

to listen to a poem.

…………………………………………
“Jump into the sea!”

he screams to me,

head rolling with a laughter

children know at dawn,

no midnight mass approaching.

 

“Hold onto your hat!”

she begs of me

on the local F train,

subway cars dashing past

and claiming my wear with it.

 

“Don’t open your eyes!”

states the man

sitting on his box, NW side,

poking the sidewalk

with a stick,

just as he has

every Wednesday I have seen him,

handed him a banana and ran.

 
Sometimes,

being the poem

is not enough.

……………………………………..
“Open the box

dear-

and, of course,

open your eyes…”

 

October 3, 2015

A Lesson on Father’s Day: Listen and Love

For the first time in what feels like a while, I am taking a break from poetry for this lovely Sunday.

I am currently reading an appropriately enlightening book (one that many of you might already know), Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. From what I have taken away from the book so far, Eckhart’s main idea is that we all, as humans, have grown to identify ourselves with our minds. Our identities are thus formulated around time: the mind depends on time to function, the idea that we have a past behind us and a future in front of us. The problem with this, however, is that the past and future do not truly exist. Our minds wind up thinking too much about something that is not real, instead of focusing on the Being in each of us, the only thing that is real: the “now.”

This book is important to me, if not for any other reason than for putting into words a feeling that I have had much of my life, the same feeling that has escaped me for quite some time. If you were to find a mirror right now, stand or sit in front of it for more than a minute, and just stare at yourself, absent of thought or surrounding noise, what would you see? Would your brain register the image as you, meaning “Michael” or “Mary” or “John”? Would you feel that name and your “story,” your past and future self, is the real “you”? I used to do this growing up, most times accidentally, and I would, after a while, say my name to myself. I would repeat it over and over. And yet it did not stick. The name had no meaning– if anything, it made me truly question, “Who is Reaching Joy*? She is not real.”

It didn’t feel like me; but it was a good feeling. I felt like I was much more than just my name, my story. I was, my identity was based upon, the simple feeling of being alive. I felt connected to a force much bigger than myself, a force that held more truth than the identities we carry with us day to day.

It was a unique feeling, indeed, to experience growing up. I once tried to explain the experience to my friend in college and she looked at me like I was crazy. I do not blame her. But now, reading Tolle’s book, I can see and begin to understand what I was experiencing. Was it a form of “spiritual enlightenment,” as he describes it? I am not sure. But I do know one thing: the one thing that I have always believed in is that we do not know anything in this life. Tolle’s book has now let me in on a second thing I truly believe in: listening.

When we listen to others, to the world around us, to our own selves, we tap into something much more meaningful and truthful than anything we could speak verbally or inwardly through thought. To truly listen means to quiet everything: the mind, judgement, the notion of time. If we really know nothing as human beings– as I believe– listening allows us to observe our world and experience it for what it is, not for what our perception makes it out to be. If there is a truth to be found in this world, listening is the way to it.

Oh, and I do believe in love– a love that connects our experiences to each other and everything around us. Love and listening: they are what I want to be the center of my life. Thank you, Tolle, for teaching me this.

What do you think of Tolle’s message? And what is the center of your life?

*I substituted my real name for my blog name, naturally