Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Love, Physical Abuse, Tara Lynn, Verbal Abuse

“Jame Loves Rachel to Death”

Tara Lyn had an expression, a turn of phrase.  She would speak of “loving someone to death”.  It was almost her only way of saying, “love someone well and truly”.

“Jamie loves Rachel to death.”

“Chris loves me to death.”

I do not recall ever much caring for that way of putting things, but as her initially charming new boyfriend began to abuse her, and as his abuse of her progressed from verbal and emotional abuse into beatings, her casual use of the words became terrifying.

In the end, to hear her words was like being throat-punched while knowing yet another blow was coming in a moment.

About This Blog, Tara Lynn

Some Excerpts from a Forthcoming Novella-Length Poem

Dear Reader,

Twenty-six years ago, I was a nearby witness to an authentic Greek tragedy.  A tragedy that I believe is justifiably described as a “murder”.

If it was not some kind or species of murder, then there is no English word I know of to describe the outrageous cruelty and brutality of what a false lover did to a beautiful young woman who worked with me at the time as my data-entry clerk.

Today, the word “trauma” has become a popular word  to describe the effects such things can have on people.  I never sought nor received professional help for the personal fallout from witnessing her betrayal and murder.

I wish I had.  A professional might have saved me years of numbness.

I am calling the novella length poem, “A Death in the Spring”, because the fast moving events the poem is based ontook place during the six-month period between Christmas 1992 and June, 1993.

I regard the novella as perhaps the best effort I have ever made to see below the surface of a series of events and see into their truer nature.

I published an earlier, premature version of the poem about a week ago.  It wasn’t ready then.  It was “scarce half made up”.  I have since worked hard re-writing it.  It’s very different now.

The poem will be posted sometime within the next few days on this blog.  Here are some excerpts from it.

An alchemist. She was an alchemist, Traveler.
Beneath the warmth of her sun
Beneath the lightness of her breeze,
Beneath her cloudless blue eyes,
Beneath her bold and fearless Spring,
Beneath it all she was an alchemist.
In her depths, in her nature, she was an alchemist.

An alchemist I told my true name.
Unbidden by her, I surrendered
My true name.

I fated myself, Traveler, when I told her my true name.
I fated myself.

 

 

Chris was himself a ball thrown hard and fast into a room.
Child-raped by his step-father,
Subjected growing up to innumerable other evils,
Chris was understandably warped and weft by his life.
His heart and mind both were twisted yarn
Dyed black with self-centering and selfish pain.
Screaming in self-centering and selfish pain.

 

She phoned me at home on Christmas Eve.
Her boyfriend had been missing for some days.
She had friends. Some close, some further away.
But she turned to me.
She turned to me in trust,
The sole reliable elder in her world.
She turned to me
As people have always at times turned to elders.

That’s how it began.
In hindsight, her evening had come.

Love sometimes is
Too softly spoken
To be heard
Above the wind

Hearts sometimes are
Too softly broken
To be heard
Tara Lynn

Love sometimes is
Like a dance
We don’t think
We’re in

Hearts sometimes
Dance apart
Tara Lynn.

 

Abuse, Butch, Ethics, Family, Friends, Goals, Happiness, Human Nature, Judgementalism, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Mature Love, Meaning, Morality, Morals, Parental Love, People, Purpose, Quality of Life, Rae, Relationships, Romantic Love, Sex, Sexuality, Shannon, Society, Tara Lynn, Tomoko, Values

Butch and Rae: An Unlikely Love Story

(About a 16 minute read)

Butch was such a nondescript man that he surely did not need a crowd to be overlooked by most anyone of us.  He was of average build, and just under average in height.  There was nothing either ugly or handsome about his face.   Blue eyes, a bit narrow.  Sandy hair.  Pale complexion.  Not only was he easily overlooked, he was even more easily underestimated.

Had you seen him during the time we knew each other, you most likely would have thought, “janitor”.  Arms too thin for construction, looks too unpolished to be a professional or even a store clerk.   And you would have been right.  At that time in his life, Butch was a janitor.

He was also one of those curious sort of people you sometimes come across in small towns and rural areas.  An honest genius with no more than a high school education, and no ambitions for himself.

Continue reading “Butch and Rae: An Unlikely Love Story”

Adolescent Sexuality, Alienation, Attached Love, Attachment, Emotional Dependency, Erotic Love, Impermance, Infatuation, Life, Love, Lovers, Marriage, Mature Love, New Love, Passion, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self, Self-Knowledge, Tara Lynn

How Love Ends

(About a 5 minute read)

Some people have time machines.  They take you back a few decades, maybe more than a few.  This morning was hardly past first light before a man I know had posted on a forum a long-winded sermon, self-righteously confident that women (“especially in California”) have turned love into “a temporal thing”.

His ex “moved on too fast”, you see, and he resents that about a woman he no longer wants anything to do with — beyond still control her every move, apparently — should now prove to him that all her words of love were false when she once was in love with him.

Continue reading “How Love Ends”

Abuse, Bad Ideas, Cultural Traits, Culture, Human Nature, Humanism, Obligations to Society, Oppression, Society, Tara Lynn, Village Idiots

In Defense of Stupid People

(About a 5 minute read)

There was a report a few weeks ago that over 60% of all Americans believe they are above average in intelligence.  I think it’s understandable that more people believe they are smarter than average than actually are.  You could write volumes about how our culture — and possibly most cultures — places great value on being intelligent.

But perhaps Americans carry that a bit too far. It’s not just that we look down on stupid people.  I hear people here say things that strike me as implying stupid people a fair game.  Fair game for any con that will work to exploit them.  Certainly, we don’t have any widespread notions that intelligent people have an actual obligation or duty to look out after stupid people.

They more or less accepted relationship between smart and dumb in this country is much more predator and prey than that.

Do stupid people deserve being looked down on and even being thought of as fair game?

Continue reading “In Defense of Stupid People”

Life, Love, People, Poetry, Relationships, Tara Lynn

Tara Lyn

(About a one minute read)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara Lyn

Love sometimes is
Too softly spoken
To be heard
Above the wind

Hearts sometimes are
Too softly broken
To be heard
Tara Lynn

Love sometimes is
Like a dance
We don’t think
We’re in

Hearts sometimes
Dance apart
Tara Lynn.


Originally published March 11, 2007 on this blog.

Attachment, Authenticity, Community, Cultural Traits, Culture, Free Spirit, Happiness, Human Nature, Intelligence, Intelligentsia, Knowledge, Life, Memes, Mental and Emotional Health, Morality, People, Psychology, Quality of Life, Reason, Spirituality, Tara Lynn, Thinking, Village Idiots, Work

Tara Lyn: Leaning Into the Light

(About a 10 minute read)

At the time I knew her, Tara had but one passion in life: People.  Specifically, the people she personally knew.  I don’t recall her ever mentioning someone as remote to her as a celebrity or some other personage she’d never met, but she was just as fervent in discussing her friends and acquaintances as any newlywed is about discussing their beloved.

Indeed, perhaps the only really significant difference between a newlywed and Tara was that a newlywed tends to ignore any faults or flaws in their beloved, while Tara seemed incapable of ignoring anything about the people she was so fascinated by.  That’s by no means, however, to imply she was overtly critical of people.

As a rule, she was not.  Or at least, she appeared not to criticize people.

It took me awhile to catch on to her because she would say things about people, such as “Brian is so jealous of Sammy”, that I assumed meant she was judging them.  That is, I assumed she believed, as I did, that jealousy is a negative emotion, and that she must therefore on some level disapprove of it in Brian.

Gradually, however, I learned that Tara was oddly — quite oddly, when you think about it (for it is human nature to judge) — rather on the dispassionate side when it came to communicating her thoughts about people.  Almost as dispassionate, I sometimes thought, as a chemist reporting on the interaction of sodium and chlorine.

Of course, I’m sure she did in fact judge people.  How could she not?  But the fact is, she seldom expressed judgment.  She spoke of the commonplace and the outrageous in the very same tone of voice, the very same body language.  She could say — and this is a true example, near as I can recollect it now — “Danny hit Rene last night because she said something he didn’t like about his getting a job.” — and sound just the same as when she once idly mentioned that Rene and Danny were moving in together.

The one time I can now recall Tara actually expressing disapproval — if that’s what it indeed was — was when she told me about a young woman who, at the age of 14, had been raped by her step-father.  Tara ended her otherwise dispassionate account with something along these lines, “She was always telling jokes and laughing before that happened.  Then she kept to herself a lot, and never much laughed again.”  I have a fairly vivid memory of her saying that because it was so rare of her to express disapproval.  But she expressed it so subtly, so gently, that I think you would have needed to know her as well as I did by then to detect the disapproval in her voice.   Disapproval or sorrow, I’m still not sure to this day which.

Tara was one of those very rare people who seemed to more or less embody Spinoza’s statement, “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”  She would not, however, have ever heard of Spinoza, and had I quoted him to her, her first question would surely have been, “Is he a friend of yours?”

She could show surprising general insight into people, even though she herself seldom spoke of people in general terms.  I once shared a poem with her that I’d written about a fictional “Kathy”.   After I’d read the poem to her, Tara fell silent, looking deeply perplexed.  “What do you think of it?”

“I don’t know.” Tara said.

“You didn’t like it?”

“No, it’s not that.  It’s just that I’ve never known anyone in my life like Kathy.  Did you make her up?”  I no longer have the poem to test it, but I’d wager eight in ten people would not have so quickly realized Kathy was a fictional character.

I hired Tara as my “secretary” in my final year in business.  “Secretary” was a bit of a stretch; she had almost no real secretarial skills; and she served instead as my data entry clerk.  That’s to say, I hired her with the expectation I could train her up right and whole to be a real secretary, an expectation she proved to have little or no interest in fulfilling, just as she had little or no interest in anything other than the people she knew.  I eventually resigned myself to her much needed help with data entry, for that she was willing to do, and do well.

Tara also resisted any urge I had to keep to a strictly formal employer/employee relationship.  A mutual friend once told me, “Tara says you’re more of an uncle to her than a boss”, and I had to admit, that was how she treated me.  There came a time, for instance, when she made a habit of calling me each evening in the office.  Around nine o’clock the phone would ring, Tara.  For the next forty-five minutes to an hour, she would fill me in on what everyone had been doing since she her last update during her working hours.  It took her that long because Tara so seldom, if ever, generalized.  Instead, she recounted details.  All the details.

It also took her that long because she quite often asked me for advice.  I once questioned her about that, and she replied, “You’re the only one who gives me good advice.  Everyone else just says things like, ‘Go burn his house down’, but you give me things I can really do.”  Which was ironic because, by that time, I had discovered that — of the two of us — Tara was the wisest.

No, she didn’t know she was wise, but she was.  And she was wise in a very special way — a way that is often neglected or under-valued by Westerners. For we in the West so often think of wisdom as something shown through a person’s words.  So far as I recall, the closest Tara ever came to saying something that might pass as wise with many of us was perhaps when she one day told me, “Boss, I don’t worry about doing the right thing or the wrong thing like you do.  I just try to do the best thing.”

Somewhere in his book, Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez mentions that the Inuit word for “wise person” literally means, “Someone who makes wisdom visible through their actions or behavior”.  The word has nothing specifically to do with what a person says or doesn’t say, except as that might be accounted a part of their overall behavior.  Rather, the emphasis is on visible actions (and perhaps equally telling moments when one chooses not to act).  Tara, I came to believe, was a wise person in the sense of the Inuit word.

It was quite a long haul for me to arrive at that conclusion about her.  For one thing, I had to overcome my prejudice that wise people spout wise sayings.  The thought that a wise person might not say many wise things at all was simply foreign to me.  Another prejudice I needed to overcome was that someone who routinely asked me for advice might actually be wiser than me.  But when I finally got around to observing how skillfully Tara appeared to be negotiating her life, as compared to how clumsily I seemed to be negotiating my own, it revolutionized my understanding of her.

For instance, at about midpoint during the year I employed her, Tara’s boyfriend abruptly decided to cheat on her.  Tara spent all of three days and nights crying on her couch, waiting for him to come home.  Then she had, as she put it, the revelation that, “I was doing no one any good, least of all myself, by feeling sorry for me”.  With that, she picked herself up, and returned to her circle of friends.  The ache was not over for her, nor were any of the issues involved resolved.  But she was firmly set on getting on with her life, come what might of the boyfriend business.

I doubt Tara had ever heard of — or at least had absorbed — the expression, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”, but no one had to have told her that, because she lived it.  Not just when her boyfriend cheated on her, but in one manner after the next.  Tara could drop an emotional burden as spontaneously as a child can let go of a grandparent’s hand to run play on a swing.  I believe the metaphor of a child is correct because hearts as resilient as hers usually belong either to children or to sages.

But was Tara really a sage?

I do not think she would compare with the Buddha, nor even, perhaps, with a few other people I actually know.  I saw her falter more than once; that is, I saw her do something I regarded as foolish, sometimes terribly foolish.  But it seemed to me that each time she faltered, she picked herself up, and made the best of her new situation.  Sage or not, I am fairly certain she was at the time I knew her, wiser than me.  Yet, only if you looked at, not what she said, but at what she did or did not do.

Barry López again:

How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but in oneself? There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.

I mean it as no criticism when I say that Tara would not have fully understood Lopez’s words.  She wasn’t educated well enough to entirely grasp what Lopez might mean by “finding darkness not only in one’s culture but in oneself”, for instance.  And life’s “great pressing questions” never seemed to me to cross her mind, at least not in any abstract way.

But Tara was as level-headed, as dispassionate as anyone I’ve known when it came to seeing people as they are, seeing both the light and darkness of them.  And she was surely empathetic, although I’m not certain that her empathy often rose to the level of compassion.  It might have, but I just don’t know.  She did, however, in so many ways, “lean into the light”.

I never discovered even a hint of malice or cruelty in her.  She was forgiving perhaps to a fault (unless one understands her willingness to forgive as a refusal to emotionally cling to things she had no control over).  She strove to tell the truth when talking of the one thing that really mattered to her, people.

Her circle of friends and acquaintances included many people whose behavior can be clinically described as “dysfunctional”, people full of petty hatreds, foolish envies, habitual cowardice towards the more powerful, and just as habitual bullying towards the less powerful then they; people who never seem to value what they have, nor ever get what they want.  Tara lived in that world, but she was not of it.  It did not turn her.

Instead, she was to some remarkable degree true to herself, albeit not like a stone, but like water.  She didn’t oppose things that were not her, she flowed around them, under them, or over them.  I would not call her a sage at the time I knew her, more than twenty years ago, but I would not be at all surprised if I’d call her that today, should we ever meet again.  Last I knew, she was married to a man she loved and the mother of six children.

Agape, Attachment, Erotic Love, Infatuation, Love, Lust, Mature Love, New Love, Philos, Romantic Love, Sexuality, Tara Lynn

Nietzsche’s Mail

There are many kinds of love; some cleaner than others. Of course, I do not mean some loves leave us cleaner in the trivial moral sense, but in the profounder aesthetic sense. That is, some loves are cleaner in the same sense in which Nietzsche received his mail.

Nietzsche wrote we should set aside a single day of the week, say, Tuesday, to open and read the letters of the prior seven days. Then we should take a bath.

The first time I read that, I had no idea what he meant.  The second and third readings didn’t help either.  But one day I discovered what he might have meant.  Years ago, a Peoria newspaper was owned by an editor who was apparently a man of  intense but shallow sentiments.  And so that editor wrote little editorials stuffed with banal passions.  I had just finished reading one of his little gems — something about how deeply it saddened him that the youth of the day were so regrettably failing to measure up to the high morals and imposing standards of the great men of banal passions in his own generation.

At least, I think he was referring only to the men of banal passions in his generation, and not to the many in his generation who were much better than that, because I had been reading him on and off for a while, and the only folks he seemed to admire were the folks who were all but identical to him.  At any rate, moments after I put aside the paper, I was aware of feeling dirty, polluted — and in need of a shower.

Since then, I’ve noticed it‘s not always one way.  Some folks, instead of leaving me feeling worn and dirty,  leave me feeling fresh and clean.  And what can be said about people seems to go triple for different kinds of love.

Intensity has nothing to do with it.  In high school, I lusted for a certain Janet. I was raptured to a 17 year old’s heaven each time she spoke to me.  The first time I saw her breasts, I thought I would never see something more beautiful if I lived to 90. But no matter how ecstatic I felt with her, I always felt dirty later on.  I also felt depressed, but that’s a different matter: I have often enough felt depressed without feeling dirty.

I could blame those feelings on Janet, but I think they had more to do with the kind of love I felt towards her.  Some would call that kind of love “lust”, and some would call it “emotional dependency”.  But I call it “a kind of love” mostly because I’ve noticed quite a few people do.  In other words, I am not going to argue over semantics.  On the upside, I’ve experienced loves that have left me feeling fresh and clean.

My love for my ex-bimbo-secretary was that way.  I used to think she was made of sunlight and helium, but it wasn’t really her — it was the way I loved her.

At any rate, it seems an interesting question:  To what extent do we owe such feelings to the person we love, and to what extent do we owe such feelings to the way we love them?  Anyone want to chew on that one?

Abuse, Agape, Alienation, Attachment, Delusion, Emotional Abuse, Erotic Love, Family, Love, Meaning, Mental and Emotional Health, Philos, Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Quality of Life, Relationships, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Tara Lynn, Verbal Abuse, Work

Some Words for Tara Lynn (Part One: The Catalyst)

“While I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw…”.

— Black Elk

Tara Lynn used to work with me in a small business I owned and operated some years ago.  I know a few folks thought I hired her because she was gorgeous.  One day, a business friend I had not seen in a few years dropped by the office and was stunned.  There’s no other word for his reaction but “stunned”.

I got from him that he was there to sell me on investing in a project of his.  But that information didn’t come out too clear: Once he saw Tara, he lost track of where he was in his pitch.  It was like a bad comedy. A bit later on he left — having either forgotten to ask for the sale, or forgotten to set up a follow-up meeting to his visit, or both, despite his 35 years in sales.

Yet, he didn’t leave before impolitely suggesting that he was no one’s fool, and that he absolutely knew I must be “bopping” my employee, as he put it.

Tara Lynn’s physical beauty was alchemy that could — and sometimes did — turn a man into an idiot.

To this day, I’m honestly unsure whether or not her beauty had that same witchy effect on me.  Here in my “exile” among the foothills of Colorado, I have wondered more than once whether things would have worked out as they did — worked out back there, a thousand miles to the East — had she been somewhat less than hang-jaw beautiful.

I don’t know.

I was married to my second wife, Tomoko, when I met Tara.  But to explain how I met Tara, I must go back long before I met her — even go back to before Tomoko and I were dating, let alone married.  Back then, Tomoko lived in the trailer park on the North edge of town.  And, there she had met a small child, a boy of about six or eight.

The boy’s mother was in the habit of locking him out of her trailer.  When he was locked out, he would stay in the local laundry mat, where it was always warm, and it was there Tomoko met him.  She all-but-legally-adopted the boy, and she raised him up as her own child.

In time, the boy grew up and became Tara’s boyfriend.  Then, one day, Tomoko asked me to take a vacuum cleaner over to their place, which was in the trailer park on the North edge of town.   When I got there, I met Tara, and I was in the act of handing the cleaner over to her, when I had an impression that I had seen Tara in a dream about twenty years before.

I think she was 20 that year we met.  A couple weeks later, Tara’s boyfriend asked me to hire Tara.  I thought it was strange he was asking and not her.  But I agreed to give her part time work.

I was willing enough to hire her because I had a project I was behind on, because I was fascinated with the dream, and because she was beautiful.  But I’m not certain which of those was more important to me.

It wasn’t long after we began working together that I was in love with her.  If you are wondering, that’s hindsight speaking.  At the time, I either failed to recognize that I was in love with her, or I was in active denial that I loved her, or some of both.

No matter how much I was in denial of my love for Tara, I was in far greater denial — almost infinitely greater denial — about the ruthless and almost unrelenting abuse my wife was throwing at me.  Of course, you can deny abuse all you want, but you still will not escape its consequences.

I hired Tara in the first week of June.  Everything will change from that June until the next.  I had many possessions when I hired Tara.  I will have few possessions 52 weeks later.

Of course, it is easy enough to talk about the material things: I will leave the greater part of all I own.  I will leave my wife and my home.    My business will fail and my career with it.  I will lose countless items at one time personally dear to me — from a library of books to a small collection of oriental rugs.  I will lose most of my friends and will feel estranged from my birth family.  Yet, in 52 weeks, I will still own a car, a few clothes,  four books, a fountain pen.  It is the spiritual things that are harder to talk about.

Losing the material things — even the wife and home — will not be that difficult compared to losing my self-identity.  My image and understanding of who and what I am.  My feeling that I have a place in the world.  My sense that I am decent.  Honest.  Good.  Intelligent.  Hard-working.  Competent.  Wise.  Kind.

It will all go.

It will all need to go.  Because there will not be enough truth in those things.  It will become evident that I am merely a decent enough man to think of myself as a decent man; that I am merely an honest enough man to think of myself as an honest man; that I am merely a good enough man to think of myself as a good man.  Yet, I will not chose to renounce those images of myself.

Rather than choosing to renounce them, I will cling to them.  Competent.  Wise.  Kind.   Leaving that understanding of myself — that image of who I am — will be more difficult for me that leaving my wife and home.  I will not — if I can speak precisely — I will not actually leave that image of myself.  Instead, I will be evicted from it.  I will be forced from it.

Yet, some components of my self image will just slip away, will — without a struggle — evaporate.  These will most often be components of my self identity I will not know that I think of as me until they are gone.  They will leave me:

Late one night, I was driving along a country road when I thought of God.  I was mildly surprised to realize it no longer mattered to me whether God existed.  I couldn’t say why it no longer mattered, but I knew it did not.  Until then, it had been important to me — important to my sense of who I was — to know whether I believed in God.

In fifty-two weeks, I will lose nearly everything I own — from my material possessions to my spiritual possessions. But I will not lose everything.  Not quite.  I will be left with enough.  Yet, I will almost be able to count without actually looking all that remains.  If Tara Lynn had not come along when she did, it almost certainly would not have happened when it did.

She was the catalyst.  In chemistry, a catalyst can be thought of as an agent that accelerates changes without itself being changed.  Some chemical processes would take so long without a catalyst present that, for all practical purposes, they would not happen at all.   Without a catalyst, they might take millions of years.  But in the presence of a catalyst, they take only a short while.

I wrote earlier, “Tara Lynn’s physical beauty was alchemy that could — and sometimes did — turn a man into an idiot.”

But that’s not quite it.  I don’t think she brought about many things that would not have happened anyway.   A few things, maybe, but not many.  It was mostly that she greatly accelerated what might have otherwise taken forever and a day.  For instance:  Tara Lynn did not turn my business friend into an idiot.  I always knew he had a bit of the idiot in him.  Tara Lynn just brought it out.  She made the idiot in him blossom.

I believe even without Tara, I would have left my abusive wife some year.  But how much more time would it have taken?  Five years?  Ten? Even longer?

Without Tara, it might have taken a long time to have lost all I lost, and to have seen all I saw in the losing of it.  But with her, it took about a year.

To this day, I think it strange how some people can have that effect on us.  How some people can be catalysts.

Abuse, Alienation, Community, Goals, Happiness, Love, Meaning, Nature, Purpose, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self Identity, Self Image, Tara Lynn

Some Words for Tara Lynn (Part Two: Linen Sky)

I bought some flowers today and gave them to a simple vase.   Later, I looked across the city to the mountains, which in the evening’s light, seemed like sheets thrown down from a linen sky.

Some years ago, my ex-secretary was in the habit of phoning me at the office around 8 or 9 in the evenings.  Originally, she would call to ask for advice because she was going through some tough times with her boyfriend.  But, after awhile, it seemed she just called out of habit and to talk. I didn’t mind listening.

She talked about her neighbors for the most part.  She would report what they were doing — report their comings and goings — in a manner that was both matter of fact and nonjudgmental.  She never had a criticism or even a harsh word for any of them.

And yet, some of the things she spoke so evenly about were quite disturbing to me, and were even brutal.  In her world, the romantic dreams of young girls seemed to always dead end in unplanned pregnancies.  That is, their dreams ended that way when their dreams were not being sidetracked by rape or incest.

Then too, it seemed that her neighbors were always in the process of losing their jobs, being evicted, or having their possessions stolen.  And all the while these things were going on,  drugs and alcohol flowed through the background of her neighbor’s lives as unremarked upon as elevator music.

I myself seldom had as much to say.  My life back then consisted in long hours spent in the office, and then, what remained of my time, spent in nature.  So I would tell her little things, brief things. Things like how the sun had looked that evening when I went to supper.  Or the calm light of the moon on the freshly plowed earth.  For some reason, it was immensely satisfying to me to share my day’s trivia with her. Certainly tonight I would have told her how the mountains had earlier seemed to me like a heap of blue linen sheets thrown down from the sky.

Now and then, she would say something so horrifying that I’d want to get her away from it — all of it — if only for a little while.  I’d invite her for a drive on the country roads.  Or to visit a lake that was near a colony of raccoons.

But she never accepted.  She never went.  And at some point, I realized that to her, the silent beauty of a dogwood in full flower would never compete with the drama of a rape or beating.  I had simply misjudged her.  I had assumed she would want to get out of the dysfunctional neighborhood she’d grown up in.  But only a relative few of us ever want to do that sort of thing — ever want to leave the world we know. Ever really want to escape.

We only say we do.

She was like the majority of us, I think now.  She didn’t want to leave her waters:  She only wanted to learn how to swim well in them — just as all life, no matter where it finds itself, wants to learn how to swim well.  We say so often that we want to escape,  we come to believe what we say.  But, in practice, it’s not so much escape that most of us want, but rather greater competence.

There was that difference between us, then: She had her world, and I had mine — and neither of us wanted the other one’s world.

Often enough, after her evening calls, I would get in my car and drive out beyond the city to where the night can seem complete in the way that a single breath drawn from the soil at midnight can seem complete, and to where it no longer mattered as much to me that sometimes when we are in love our hearts can open so wide the rain comes in.

Attachment, Consciousness, Emotions, Late Night Thoughts, Learning, Love, People, Quotes, Tara Lynn, TJ

Through Our Lover’s Eyes

Some things are easy for me to remember, but my birthday is  not one of them.  Fortunately, my mother always remembers, and she calls every January 10th to wish me a happy birthday.  Usually, that’s how I learn about it.  But this year is different.

For once, I’m well ahead of the curve.   And for some reason, I’m feeling proud of myself that no one must tell me it’s my birthday this year.  I feel as if I’ve accomplished something.  But why did I remember it this year?

I’m pretty certain the reason is TJ.  She reminded me a few days ago that my birthday was coming.  She seemed to feel it was important, and so I began to feel it was important.  For the first time in memory, I’ve been looking forward to my birthday.  Which brings me to the point:  This isn’t the only time in my life I’ve noticed a thing suddenly take on a new meaning merely because that’s the meaning someone I’m in love with gives to it.

For instance, a very dramatic change of sentiment overcame me many years ago when I was deeply in love with my ex-secretary.  At the time, I was quite enthusiastic about politics and in the habit of often commenting to my secretary on the subject.   Yet, one day, Tara told me in a simple but politely emphatic way that politics was of no importance to her and bored her silly.

The shift was abrupt, almost like an epiphany.  I quite suddenly saw how politics was little more than an entertainment for me and not much of a real or serious interest at all.  Yet, until that moment’s insight I had been wrapped up each day in politics — attached to politics, a Buddhist might say.  More precisely, I had until that moment the dogmatic, loud, and false passion for politics you see so often in people who think ideologically rather than realistically.   All those sentiments dropped from me within a minute or so of Tara’s declaration.

The change was not superficial.  For several years afterwards, I seldom thought about or discussed politics.   When I eventually took up the subject again, it was in a different spirit.

In a more minor way, TJ’s interest in my birthday seems to have caused my interest in it this year.  Moreover, I can think of other times in my life when I’ve viewed the world through a lover’s eyes and have been changed by what I’ve seen.  Not just intellectually, but emotionally.

I think that last bit is important to understanding the phenomenon.  Like nearly everyone, I have studied with teachers, read books, and so on that have changed me intellectually — changed my understanding of the world — and then perhaps eventually changed how I felt about the world.  But what stands out to me about the experience I had with Tara, or to a much lesser extent the recent experience I had with TJ, is that in those cases both my understanding and my feelings have changed at the very same time — and changed quickly.

Are there other things that can bring about so much change in us so quickly?  I am sure there are.  The best art seems to do that for some of us.  And the best science for others.  And so forth.  But I wonder if anything does it so surely as love?

At least, that’s how it seems to me.  I strongly suspect, however, that I only imperfectly understand the phenomenon.  There seems to be so much to it than I’ve been able to get at here.

Anais Nin somewhere says,  “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”  I have often thought of her words when I’ve thought of how we can be changed in both our understanding and our feelings by seeing something through a lover’s eyes.

It is now a couple hours into the tenth of January, the day on which I was born into this word.  And while this is officially my 52nd birthday, I believe in my life this world has been born many times — in both small and great ways — on those occasions when I have seen the world, not in my own habitual way, but fresh through the eyes of someone I’ve loved.