Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Meditation 98


11 November 2020

The wicked witch gives the broom to someone else to fly on. He’s got Air Force One, and he knows how to use it. America likes a boot in the face, a boot with a warhead for a toe. I’m reading Epictetus for his wisdom. I hear him sweeping in the corner, the one I never get to, and finding clarity in the angle. Even wisdom literature has limits, for who’s to sweep behind the corner, in the other unit, where the neighbor lives who refuses to look at me. Ah, the gaze. She looks at dog, at tree, at fallen petals, at the sticks that fall on car windshield. Her dog looks at us, and I at her, but the connection fails like an old modem, most impersonal of hang ups. It’s more mystery than hurt, months into the game of hide and go hide some more. Like I wish I could google these non-encounters and find some wisdom in them, except I more than suspect there is none. The shift from seeking meaning to accepting it—or its lack--has proved awkward. Over the course of a lifetime, one study showed, our personalities change completely. At 77 we wouldn’t recognize our 14 year old selves. But it seems quicker than that, the metal screen slamming shut on ambition, on accumulation of credits. Accretion’s no longer the ode, but decrease. Is it in the age, or in the meds? The miserable reflection of a leader who craves suffering to feel himself breathe? My students looked in the mirror and saw themselves as functions: daughter, grand-child, sister, except for the adopted woman, who saw only her nose. I asked what it might mean to separate identity from self. If the mirror is a thing in itself, what does it ask of us? To touch that surface, like a faithful reader, and know how little is left on it of us, save thumbprint or a sponge’s smear. An almost language, that. As we step away from it, it fills with another self: bed or curtains or a desk.

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