If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
I wake in the dead of night and a question suddenly crystallizes in my mind.
Why is it that we human beings (and possibly all other worldly creatures as well) are made to depend – our lives, our bodies, our soul, our intellect, even – on love, if it is so difficult to attain? If not even God, who is almighty, has the power to make itself loved by someone who doesn’t care for God?
And then, in the same uncanny way, arrives a possible answer:
Because God wished to grant us the freedom to choose whether to love or not… and this need would enable us to choose love, being that to love is to be loved.
As Einstein envisioned, the most difficult thing is formulating a question. Then, perhaps, the answer follows: as one instant follows another, almost as if woven and one with the question.
This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.
– Alan Watts
See all around us the proof of Watt’s words: compassion; awe in the wake of a serendipitous moment or a particularly quiet morning; closure and deliverance; a newborn child that leaves you speechless; a just-because phone call; a meal from a complete stranger; your rag doll being handed down four generations; realizing there is nothing to forgive; the same song bringing joy or tears or both every time even after forty years; a revelation or a recollection in the dead of night; the smell of linen dried out in the sun which no one in the entire world is able to dislike.
I see the lovers in the park, and feel good.
They are lying on the grass. Facing the sky, asleep.
I feel for them. Not only because I would like to be very young, carefree, my hands touching grass and another hand, but because they are beautiful to see.
It starts raining. The rain is soft and shelters. it whispers warmly. They don’t rush under a tree, they just stay there. The rain is louder, now. She takes out a scarf, so slowly I barely notice, and covers their heads. They huddle a bit, when the rain cannot be ignored, and say nothing. There will be a rainbow.
You are not a full-fledged individual if you have not:
Stood in the rain on purpose (not necessarily dancing)
Had an affair with a married woman/man
Cried in your office bathroom
Done something really stupid and not apologized
Done something really stupid and wanted to apologize but lost forever the chance to do it
Done something really stupid and apologized
This is why we die: Not because the beauty and the awe of being alive wears out (in some people, this was never really on) not because we don’t have food or shelter or TV programs to watch.
All of a sudden, we look attentively and our affections are all gone. They have moved away, passed, or lost their memory. We feel old and tired but more importantly, we feel alone and unnecessary.
So there it is: without love, we are no more… because in our lifetime we have come to embody that which we knew all along, but in our youth pride kept denying until deny we could no more. Love is all that counts, and all there is.
May you grow up to be an artist.
May your hands caress stone the way some past artists’ have caressed clay or canvas.
May your words be the same as everybody else’s but not quite, your words able to syphon souls to their own private destinies.
May you have the insanity that goes with art, with art, with art whatever art is.
May you have the courage to yell epiphanies at an intersection, or obscenities in a court.
May you walk the trail barefoot, bereaved, and blessed.
May your footsteps fall differently in the sand or in the snow that a child passing by would notice them amidst the thousands. May that child yell: “oh-look!” and be ignored by adults, and not despite this but because of this, dream of being you.
May art stick to you forever, or at least, stick to you long enough after an evening of gin and sorrow.
May you not need someone the way the artist writing symphonies did not need anyone.
May your body deteriorate in beauty akin to an old dusty rose next to a fresh pineapple on the breakfast table.
May the world celebrate you the way hands touch the steering wheel of a sports car.
May you grow up to be and artist, and your art be like a day so pure that it goes unnoticed in the world’s memory.
I take a walk almost every morning down the river bank of my city, a few blocks away from home. As I go back, I cross a bridge called Ponte Sisto.
The bridge holds some of the fondest memories I have; and it also holds an interesting array of street musicians and beggars. They all have their time slots and their corners. In the evenings there is the young, tall guy with a cane, somewhere from Eastern Europe, and there is a Lenny Kravitz lookalike playing a Gibson. Mornings you can find the Filipino guitar player wearing a Mexican sombrero and an old, haggard beggar.
I feel a pang of sadness and discomfort when I pass all of them, and give them all a silent prayer each time.
One day, much to my surprise I saw, a few minutes before his “shift” started, the old beggar on his cell phone, talking loudly and merrily to someone.
My sadness was gone: not because he had a cell phone, but because he had someone to talk to, any given Tuesday at 7:15 am.