Monday, June 11, 2018

About the Things You Love, What Desires Are Your Nature?

It’s okay to love things you love almost as much as people. You may think you don’t need poetry until you need it. Then nothing else will do and for a moment it will be poetry that you love. This is not the same thing as being in love with poetry and that’s more where I’m going with this.

In each of us there are things that we don’t reach into out of human necessity but that we crave, we want, we desire because you can’t tell your story without them. Of course, Mandela taught us we can live without every kind of thing we love if we learn to love what we know is true. There’s so much courage and wisdom in that that few but Buddhas will grasp its mystery. Such courage born of depravation should not be the rule, only the indispensable exception. Let us return the subject to being merely mortal rather than wish the travails of sainthood upon ourselves.

You know what you love and if you don’t have something, I’d bet you do but might be shy to say it because some will think that loving what you love takes away from loving people. That zero sum view won’t ever go away so I think you can’t worry if you are misunderstood. You’ll know the things you love when you do you don’t imagine what it would be like to live without them but instead spend your life living in them. Notice the plural here. Some folks have a singular, others have a hobby for everyone in the room, as McCarthy puts it.

So we don’t have to have but one passion because things don’t demand that so we need not demand that of things. "Things" here don't need to be material objects, they can human inventions like poetry, music, it really just means what you love. I'm not interested in the elitist bit either, I mean, it could be something others think is frivolous or silly. The point is that you care.

What we learn from the most dedicated and talented is that they too often have more than one love and loves they will not surrender, not ever, because then they just wouldn’t be at all without them. There may come a day when I can’t ride the bike, do the grammar, or play the music but there will never be the day when those things aren’t what I am really doing. What's going on inside me isn't just what you see anymore than it's what going on inside you. Except that you're going to it with what you love too.

I tell you about mine here not to suggest what you should love. That’s either too personal—and who am I to tell you to love something because I do—or it’s too much a part of woven cultural identity, like food. Bourdain taught us that to accept another’s food is to accept them. These are teachings we must all try to fathom, even make true in our lives.

 But there’s still more to love that we do not share so much as we choose for ourselves, because there’s always room for more. And that means things that you love that don’t make their demand on others so much as they do on you.

Of course, these things too will make demands on those you love because they have to live with how you tell your story. We can only hope to be loved that much because once we are in the world of “mine” that is something we can share _with_ but not something we will abandon if told. Even those we love will find that hard to tolerate. We can love things to addiction or worse because it's never easy to know when to stop when you're in love.

I frame the issue for myself in personal terms because that makes the point that these may not be your loves, and obviously not important to you. But there’s something that’s important to you that isn’t your loved ones or your community or culture, even your food or what you want in sex. I hope your list is long. Mine is but those who know me easily see what’s made me and made my list. YMMV is always good advice. I take mine in wheels, words and music because I have largely failed at other things I wish I were better at doing, which would make me love them more. It really is harder to love something that you can't do well-enough to tolerate your own doing. Like swimming or beets or something.

All this rumination started this morning when I asked myself a stupid question. Well, if not stupid then one that I find obvious and don't expect you find necessary. When you put yourself together you'll see that the first question here is not nearly as good or as important as the second question. Here's my two.

Why is Sanskrit is like rock n’ roll? Because who wouldn’t do this if they could? And because not everyone can. Or at least not like Mick and Keith. But don’t let that stop you. I think that's the point of this whole exercise. Don't let anything stop you from loving your life. Especially you. And if others find reason to comment or offer their doubts, listen closely and decide what to do next. There's room to retreat a few paces back just like there's room to plow forward. Take stock of the earth you're plowing but keep plowing.

If what you love is yours then sometimes you may not know why you're doing it and nonetheless you'll keep on. It's not always up to you. The slope steepens to obsession and addiction and the host of other shadows that can overcome you, so the task is to know yourself as the Bard, and so be true. None of this is easy but then it wouldn't be you.

Remember Rilke who never tires of telling you to be you.
“All things consist of carrying to term and then giving birth. To allow the completion of every impression, every germ of a feeling deep within, in darkness, beyond words, in the realm of instinct unattainable by logic, to await humbly and patiently the hour of the descent of a new clarity: that alone is to live one’s art, in the realm of understanding as in that of creativity.”