Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I am writing this from Planet Intimacy, a place not unlike the moon, with strange caverns, glorious vistas, unexpected fissures. The atmosphere here is different; the normal rules don’t always apply. Sometimes it’s as breezy and warm as a picnic in Heaven; then storm clouds move in, the wine turns sour on the tongue and nothing makes sense for a while.

It’s disintegration in service to a deeper re-integration—or self in the world, soul to soul, soul to God. It’s descent into pettiness—“That’s not the right way to send a package! “ “You are the most annoying person in the world!” in service to humility and seeing oneself clearly, childishness, warts and all. It’s what I longed for all those years, maybe my whole life, envying my parents because they got to sleep together in their big bed. It requires patience, stamina and guts, as the remodel continues and we paint and scrape and measure the bathroom for new fixtures and go to Home Depot and try to live our creative lives as well.

Last night C played music again for a few hours while I was out teaching my class, (I love my class! They are so wise and open! I can’t believe I get paid to do this!) and I came home to find a new man, or, I should say, the old C—radiant, refreshed. When he neglects his creative work he gets burdened and cranky. When I neglect mine I get apathetic and listless.

We watched the opening ceremonies of the Games last Friday night on G’s large-screen HDTV. Jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring. I don’t have the energy to go into the descriptions here—everyone can watch them on Youtube by now—and they should. It’s a spectacle greater than any in living memory.

The announcer kept talking about how the Chinese value harmony. Harmony, harmony, harmony. At what price, I wondered. The shadow side of harmony is fascism. Kill the element that is inharmonious. Pluck out the withered flower, the unruly opinion, the misshapen individual. Replace the plain little girl singer with the gorgeous voice with the pretty little doll and let the pretty one lip-sync. Harmony is beautiful, but, like perfection, it is not human.

Human nature is boisterous, roiling, changeable, ambivalent, full of contradictions which never resolve. I am an advocate for all that is imperfect and inharmonious. I don’t mind having stupid arguments with my beloved or being a fool, or being ugly, if it is part of an authentic life. Which is why I will never compete in the Olympics, never be one of those flowers of perfection to entertain the world stage (although I love to watch them, especially the gymnasts.)

I will just live here on Planet Intimacy, recording rotting peaches and coffee grounds, a messy desk, rumpled sheets, a sunny day, a trip to the body shop to fix C’s bumper which I dented when I backed my car out of the driveway without looking, a phone call to Carla, not enough time to exercise properly but a thousand words written before lunch.

(And what are the shadow sides of my own ideals? The shadow of authenticity is total descent into the dark side, laziness, abandonment. The shadow side of kindness is weak boundaries or no boundaries. All of our ideals are flawed.)

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