Saturday, January 10, 2009

Duke Ellington and All That Jazz

I'm not sure where the day went, but it sure left in a hurry. Now its the end, lots of things got done and I'm working on making space. Not the "cleaning the closet" sort of space but the "cleaning out the head" sort of space.

One of my mentors, way back in the day, told me that there is fertility in emptyness, that until there is a void, creativity is stifled. When he told me this I was seventeen years old. I thought I understood what he meant. That was before I acquired emotional baggage and furniture and a file cabinet full of check stubs and tax returns from the last seven years.

Being single after a couple of decades of serial monogamy is a scary proposition. It means sitting still and not chasing the wind. Its learning to sooth that anxious feeling that comes up from the pit of the stomach when it would feel so much better to call someone, anyone, to feel some sort of connection with another human being. It means walking through the dark alley of longing and regret without panicking about the boogy monster (who is me anyway).

Buddhism teaches that suffering is caused by desire for anything other than what we are or what we have in this moment. Now is perfect, it is as it is. I have always had some difficulty with this idea. Isn't suffering also caused by circumstances outside our control? If we didn't have desires, how would we educate ourselves, feed ourselves, take care of our loved ones, or create art? Those things stem from desire. They are all good things.

I think the difference is this: does the desire cause unhappiness or joy? Does the desire come from a place of compassion or fear? Compassionate desire can save the world. Desire that comes from fear has nearly destroyed it.

By no means have I got this all figured out. I get angry, petulant, resentful, depressed and a host of other negative emotions. I feel sorry for myself sometimes. But I'm working on it.


John said...
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John said...

marvelous thoughts that i too am familiar with. I pursue compassion, love and understanding to my best ability. sometimes before and after I flip off a dingbat driver. : ) I believe most of us that are engaged in the this life are trying to figure it out and that is a major component and joy of this life. Blessings to you.