Samsara

26 09 2015

Bard Owl

I am a fool. Yes, an idiot. I know nothing. I lay on my back looking up at the vast spread of the cosmos, astonished at the audacity of thinking I have anything to say at all.

I overthink everything. My every unoccupied moment simmers with anxiety and rumination until my mind pops open like a milkweed pod. Thoughts fluff out into the wind and float away. Watch them drift in the air against the stark blue of the sky. Free. The pod dries in the sun and curls up like a smile.

I overfeel everything. I believe in the chimera. While cities burn around me, I weep over a crumbled sandcastle. Silly of me, to be so undone by emotion, seeing tragedy and triumph in a spider’s web. However quiet the gnat’s buzz may sound to others, it is thunder when it is in your own ear.

Let go of dilemma’s horns, stop battling to no victory, talking to no purpose, grasping at snakes and phantoms, cringing from the mirage.

Another book slides off the assembly line to drift down into the accumulation like leaves in an October forest. Oh, look, there’s a pretty one! And another and another, becoming buried to slowly decompose into humus. It’s deep and soft where I pitch my tent and spread my sleeping bag, zipped up snug within the gathering gloom. The bard owl silently descends to a branch above, curious, and after critical examination, concludes, “FUBAR.”

“Wise bird,” I murmur as I fade away.

[Author’s note: “Samsara” does not translate as “weeping into my beer because my books aren’t on the NYT bestsellers’ list and have not been nominated for a Hugo.” Granted, that’s a part of it, given the profound importance my writing has to my sense of personal identity. But it is only one river flowing into an ocean of dukkha.

I am currently dealing with a personal situation that confounds all my coping strategies. Intellectually I know that all things change, that nothing is permanent, nothing and no one can be depended on. But anxiety is not a rational thing. Fear is difficult to reason with. I make a firm resolve to pull myself out of this morass, and recover some of my inner control and optimism, only to have the toxic situation I’m in corrode my resolve away like acid.

Well, you say, get out of that situation then. Right?

It’s complicated. Too complicated. Impossible choices, insoluble problems, unanswerable questions. It is defeating me.]

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8 responses

26 09 2015
darleneolivo

Justine, I have to respond because your opening words of self-flagellation are painful to read. In fact, they triggered anger. I’ll accept the first three, “I’m a fool,” only if you put Holy in front of Fool. There’s a hug(e) difference. Please drop the spiked whip. Your language is gorgeous–that’s where you come alive. I’m sorry that your books aren’t selling. I know that pain intimately–same thing for my visual art as well as my book.

I repeat: I’m so sorry you’re having this much pain. And I ask you to say those same words to yourself.

Thank you.

26 09 2015
justinegraykin

It’s more complicated than mere book sales. Way more complicated. Too complicated.

26 09 2015
darleneolivo

I’m sorry.

27 09 2015
justinegraykin

Just look after yourself. You have battles enough. I am not the first to stride off into the woods, confident in my compass, maps, and mighty fine brain, only to find myself hopelessly lost with night falling. No way to know what lurks in the deepening shadows, predator or timid prey. No way to know if the familiar, friendly face is actually a shapeshifting bear; you can’t tell with bears. Just try to get through the night and start walking in the morning, with no clue which is the right way to go, or if there even is a right way. Those whom the gods would destroy they first make optimists.

26 09 2015
Mary Jolles

Sounds like you are due for another trip to the mountains! How about a camping trip to Evans Notch on Columbus Day weekend? We can hike Caribou Mountain. Things look very different when seen from a peak.

27 09 2015
justinegraykin

Why not. The only problem with peaks is that you eventually have to descend. But I’ll take the momentary respite.

27 09 2015
Mary Jolles

I think that is probably a universal truth, that nothing is permanent, which makes everything so precious. But the good part is… The bad things are not permanent either. Hang in there and wait for the sun.

9 10 2015
robertagregory

Read this again after going through the last few weeks of my email and deleting junk mail and finding things I meant to reply to. I finished reading Archimedes Nesselrode a week ago after it being on my Kindle for a year or so, and it is wonderfully vivid and paints very clear and memorable pictures. You are a fine writer. I do hope you continue writing and enjoy it and are just weathering a big bump in the road. I want to read more.

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