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april 2005

At Peace?9:27am friday, 29th april
I have been contemplating something. In one sentence: “Be at peace with yourself.” Really, I had never before a couple weeks ago considered this thing, this simple little phrase. It had always been for me, “Be at peace with the world.” You know, a grand thing, something that seems noble at the face of it, and worthy of your attention. To be at peace with yourself — that’s rather like something that one takes for granted, is it not? One of those obvious things that one glosses over. But when I look at it, at them both, those sentiments, I have done all I can to be at peace with the world — and pretty much it has worked out, and me and the world have buried whatever hatchet we may have had in the past — but being at peace with myself, that’s a thinker. I may never have had something like that, the closest having been perhaps zonked out on drugs, and having that artificial serenity, instead. I don’t know where to begin.

Maybe it’s in a one-word phrase, that I remember from my youth, in the 80’s: “Relax.” Maybe it’s not to get worked up about having peace with yourself is where the peace lies. To be satisfied with what you have, what you can do, what you have done, who you are. That, however, seems to me much more difficult a thing than being nice to people, paying my bills, making something of your life, being creative, etc. — what is involved in the “at peace with the world” thing. Is the “at peace with yourself” trick what is reserved for zen masters and the like? For I am afraid of feeling adequate, it would appear, that if I am so satisfied, I will no longer strive for anything. (I do not know where the illusion lies, here, though I am pretty sure I am deluding myself with something.) Maybe I have taken the first step, that I am considering that deceptively simple sentence. “Be at peace with yourself.” Sounds like a good idea, anyway.

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Not They11:42am monday, 25th april
They do not understand
the experience of everything
coming to a complete stop.
Of the you before, dead,
now you having to travel through
the spirit lands, in the
dark wood of heaving shadow,
hoping only for the chance
to breathe of free air again,
to breathe and it not
portend the end of the world.
All you want is that grinding
start, back from the very
scratch, or very much like it,
suddenly half the person
you imagined yourself to be,
or even that you remembered
how it was you were.
They do not understand
that there are people who still
wander aimlessly through
the meaningless corners
of the astral plane, who will
never find their way back
to the realm of material.
They do not understand
that this stranger you became
remembers how they
looked at you, even when
you were so very far away;
and you could not express
that you hurt in any
human way. But how human
that pain was, the last thing
left, at times, of what was you.

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A Chance2:19am thursday, 21st april
I don’t know when it was that I decided to give the world, as a people, a chance. I may, in fact, still be in the process of letting this happen. How it was when I was younger that I scoffed at all the traditions of these we fallible human beings, how we none of us could be right about anything, and how foolish it was to plan for what was to be, how stupid it was to thing that any of us could be counted on for anything. But I came around. I noticed that, for all the hiccups and grinding of the gears of society, what we have as a civilization works. For I understand that we are not perfect, that this civilization is not anything near the best of all possible worlds, but I choose to give it the benefit of the doubt. Horrible things will still happen, but there are good things that occur, too, and perhaps it is that we have grown so used to many of these good things that they don’t strike us anymore, not like the evil does, nowadays. No, we cannot be counted to make of this world a Heaven, but we can be to feed our children. And that not all children of the world are being fed — this left to do, I think, yes, we will be able to accomplish it. This and other things of its ilk: we have the capacity to do them. I have a little faith in us.
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Madness’ Memory5:14am sunday, 17th april
The madness had memory. This I recall quite clearly, one of the more insidious natures of the stuff of psychosis. That it knew things about me — this seemed not so surprising, as it was, after all, my mind that was doing all that wild broohaha to me, but if I spoke to it in a derogatory way at some point, at another point (maybe months later), it remembered to the letter what I had said. And of course, it would use what that was against me in some way. As if not only all the workings of my mind was visible to this enemy entity within, but that there was some space for it within the architecture of my mental engines where it had actively taken over some real functionality.... Perhaps it should not have surprised me so, for after all, it used the powers of my speech formulation, and mental visualization, but I could accept that quite easier — just imagination gone amok. Memory was something else.

I made sure to note it, later, when I started getting better. After the event of my realization, I remember that I started attacking it back. It was not always a victorious undertaking, and later, it would rather kick my ass again, but I made sure that I took it into account when I assailed it in word or some sort of mental perturbation that it would remember what I did to it. Freaking... take that, you stupid #$*%&@ mental process! I made sure to make it realize that after I won against it those times that I did, it wouldn’t conveniently ignore what I had done. We do what we can with what we have. When the madness remembers, I guess the only thing you can do is to fly in the face of it, defiantly stand against it, and cry, “Don’t you dare forget me!” Because when it knocks you down, you may find you can get up again. As many times you need to for it to realize you won’t give up.

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Far and Far6:29am wednesday, 13th april
Far and far and far — yet but a speck upon the cosmos.
I have felt significant, and have thought I knew so very much;
yet I could not control my very own heart, small as it was.

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Minutia5:09am saturday, 9th april
As I age, I notice at least this one advantage in my accumulating years: I understand better as time goes on about the subtleties of the world. When I was young, perhaps it was so that candy tasted sweeter, the sun shone brighter, and my step had more bounce — but I find as I look at such a common thing as asphalt, I see things I before never paid attention to, which escaped my blunt eye of youth. It was not so many years ago that I noticed the intricate granularity of asphalt, how the many grains existed instead of the relatively even gray that before I had only known the stuff as. I marvel at the detail I now see about so many more things. The subtleties: this is what I look forward to in my advancing age. The more I live, the more I understand the littler things of this universe, the more I sense the minutia. There is always more than meets the eye; this I discover slowly, bit by bit.
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Beauty4:44am tuesday, 5th april
Beauty, I imagined I could trace
the envelope of your tutelage
through the stitches of my mended heart.
I have tasted something
of your kiss, and how sweet the savor
when you were mine, and mine alone
(or at least, when I had no idea
about the countless other lovers
you had wrapped around
your most inconspicuous finger).
How many times have I said
goodbye to your daggerlike form?
How many times, then, have I wandered
through the stormrains to those
doorsteps of yours, impossibly high
to climb, howling out like
a wolf who is so utterly alone,
to the window where I saw your shadow?
And always, I forgive everything,
for everything melts when you smile.
Let me just say of myself that
I never asked, and I don’t
think I ever want to know:
will you remember me, when my star
has faded into the night,
and the sound of my whisper
evaporates like the dew
when dawn has long crossed the sky?
Would you even try?

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Scent Memory11:07am friday, 1st april
Scents drift by, and memories ripple through me. There was once, years ago, when the sweet and sour smell of a children’s drink sent me back decades, back before I had ever set foot in the United States; that was when I had been exiled here, in Korea, when my madness still loomed. Too, there was a smell which I remembered, but puzzled me: I looked, and yes, when I was little, I used to snack on insects! Silkworm pupae, to be exact. A little salty, a little crunchy and roasted, they didn’t really taste that bad — but it didn’t mean I was going to scarf them down by the handful. And now that I am here again in Seoul, the streets are blowing with remembrances. Smells that in the past were indicative that I was in the Land of Morning Calm, musty dirty smells sometimes, petroleum smells of machines, sulfur smells from I don’t know where, and even (rarely) green smells of plants you can’t find out west.

Not so much, when I was back there, in the home of the free, the land of the brave, or whatever you want to call the empire of the United States. I wonder why. Maybe I need to spend more time away from there than a couple years; maybe after a decade of being foreign it will be enough time for the latency of aroma memory to be set for triggering. Or maybe they’re there, somewhere, awaiting just the right nexus of scent to bring me back to the streets of Philly, or the elementary school of the suburbs. It may even be that one day I will in my old age visit my old college, and one waft of the halls will bring me back to those years where I held so much potential, before I almost threw it all away. I wonder why it is the smells that bring back so much of the past. Perhaps, like a good memory, it isn’t there all the time, like seeing and hearing. Something different, yet familiar, like I imagine every dawn must be.

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