• Brendan Graham Dempsey

Entry 5: Walls


Dear Cellist,

Let us be forever learning. I want to acquire new skills, new arts always. I am such a novice at life... Even now, just bold of 30, circumstance prepares new rounds and gamuts for me--burning-hoops and homespun trials to test my unimagined mettle. (Or so I'll conceive of fortune, taking new compass from getting lost, as though the buffeting stormwinds were designed to shift my final island. [Existence is movement; living, growth. Time is change; but aging, maturation, telos. Being, given; but Meaning always chosen. I choose reason for my redirection, transmogrifying mortify to resurrection.]) So, let's grow!

Already I have spoken of my Yes direction. This is artform for a whole lifetime--no easy act. Daily I practice, drawling "Yes yes" to myself, reflecting, or looking out on the soft green trees, and give my blessing to the seasons. "Yes yes" I say, too, to the silly discontentments so unexpectedly wrecking me, and learn, and wise up "Yes yes" to the moment's lesson. It is helping. Still, this precept needs a life to break open fully, before its pollen nectar crystallizes in true form, and even death is Yessing.

So, beyond this, I have added a second praxis: Floating, flowing....

That is, letting go, and letting be, and simply watching everything without a Me grasping and grasping at it. Just...sit. And see the downtown bustle blur by casually, and watch the evening market orange with evening, sipping a slow drink of froth and joy as, quiet, creepings of eternity ascend in tingling arms and tingling head, and I am glad for gladness, glad to see these brothers pass me by, this couple hand-in-hand, this childsplay laughter rival Adam in his innocence leaping from rock to rock. And then I lose my 'I' and simply bleed into reality, and watch existence puttering, and be blessed by it, and know that all is well.

And yes, like meditation breaking, it invariably comes to pass that a beautiful clarinetist in striped pants passes, and I long and wonder and desire and dole. But...then remember, and let her go, and know that she and I are grass, and have been burning in some stellar filament together for millennia, maybe loved another in a drop of water, weathered suns, and will be mingled with the dust of Shakespeare, aliens, and angels come dawning eonwake. And what weighs my desire in such a scale, when nebulas and epochs go toe to toe with my dot's hankering, and I am old before their minute? I grasp and grasp. We grasp, and haggle beggardly for crumbs, muling when comforts cold, and whine for love. But Love is old, and ancient as the atom forces breaking Jodie into a sequoia tree that supernovas in ten centuries.

No, better to take my want for what it's worth, and learn to love existence non cui bono. To love the ebb and flow of everything, and watch it with all the expectation the tide is due. And when I do, I leave the small ache of my self, and feel enveloped into the very motion of things, and take such pleasure in the very Thatness of what is, however it is, that I am so lost in Thatness, I am That, to some degree, a moment's flourishing, before I fall back from my reverie into my froth and drink and see a busking girl at banjo chords. But "yes yes..." We are all the tide like this.

Is this, then, the equanimity I seek? Untroubled by small wants, but wanting only Everything, just as it is? Is this the Buddhist's upekkha, the Greek's ataraxia, Emerson's Transparent Eyeball, so melted into matter that the subject becomes object with what it sees, and all that is is what it sees, and all that is is Seeing? Is this some poor pale earthrelic of the beatific gaze, which finds some unity with Trinity in the celestial reflection's face come death's head's endless awakening?

Or is it merely just a way to cope with days, a reflex to defend against fate--by loving it?

It is and must be all these things, dear Cellist. For who can reach Empyreal shores, or break the fetters of samsaric curses, shipwrecked at the drear end of a bottle? Being is given, but Meaning always chosen. And as I sit at downtown outside tables, sipping giant beers I've bought, and watching Friday evening move along like Nature Herself, dynamic, flowing, I will look for ripples in the surface where the radiance peeks through. And where the seam is seen [or sown], I'll pry the edges. Everything is dead already, unless you live it through. Then vivify with wonder! and a stern hope whose star is ever onward, upward--inward. Learn to flow, and ride at the current pace, mindful, in the moment, a knight of infinite resignation, who gains the world by letting go. "For whoever would save their Life must lose it," and find themselves not as they were. Or, as Stevens wrote:


I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw

Or heard or felt came not but from myself;

And there I found myself more truly and more strange.


Just this I seek to learn--a disappearance act, perhaps, magician-sly, kenotically self-emptying into the world, and I, an Eye... the world....


But--baby steps.

I sip my drink. And smile at joy that isn't mine. And court the moment when the radiance strikes, and know again:

it is.


- Leaf.

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Contact Brendan at generationofleaves@gmail.com