Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Live for Love

As obsessed as I am with The Beatles' music, I have never spent much time researching the members' lives. Recently, however, I've had the chance at work to do some, and quickly realized that many of my favorite songs were penned by George Harrison ("Within You Without You," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "I Me Mine"). I started listening to his songs exclusively, and my George journey began.

He was famously embroiled in a love triangle with his wife Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton, resulting, sadly, in divorce. Such is life, one might easily say, especially when subscribed to a mindset of detachment. However, for at least literary reasons, I'd like to dissect the fact:

What power love has. It can transform us (for better or worse), inspire, cloud judgement, lock and free. Quixotic, relentless, powerful, it is no wonder those who preach detachment are quick to stress that (in so few words) love is not personal. In audience with a Buddhist monk, he explained it like this:
    You are to show respect to your mother and father, but they are not your mother and father. Now, do not tell them "you are not my mother and father," but [they have no special relationship with you, because all is illusion.]

In that way, one has no need to feel great pain when another harms him because it is never personal. It is the stuff of this illusion. When a lover leaves, "she" exercises a practice of man, which is less than real. There should be no exquisite pain, because you have no great attachments. To do so is then dangerous for obvious reasons: you grasp at that which you know does not exist fully. In a way, it would do good for all of us to think this way, Buddhist or not. Emotions give way to irrational thoughts quite often. Rage, helplessness, greed are all extremes that at their core, even in the smallest doses, are dangerous and beneficial to none.

I can easily look back onto my youth and recognize clearly that most of my mistakes were propelled by a lack of control of emotions. Emotions make us feel like victims;
"I am so sad because X has happened"
"I am angry due to _____"
"I am in love/happy because of..."

To be grateful or thankful seems less personal. One does not claim a special place in this world. One recognizes that, if anything, we share in all experiences. Great poetry works like this too. One does not attempt to write his story, but the story of man on a Tuesday.

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.
Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.
This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers

-"Late September"
Charles Simic

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