Sometimes I think that to stay open is the hardest thing.

Sometimes I think that I can’t stand the messiness of being human- the insincerity, the insecurity, the never-arriving, the always-changing.

Sometimes I think I want a love that has no fear in it, something impossibly neat, something tidy and flawless.

This is my great failing, the belief that a thing can be tidy and flawless.

I admit that I have desires: I admit that there is something that I want: and I admit that that thing is impossible.

I am a human: infinitely complicated, counter-intuitive, and with flawed judgment. I will continue to fail, again and again, for the rest of my life.

What I want to know, what I cannot find in my small pocket book on Buddhist philosophy, is-

At what point does acceptance become a bad idea?


Sometimes I can feel myself fluttering open and closed like a clamshell. Trusting, not trusting, trusting, not trusting. What is Good Judgment, and what is plain cowardice? With my naked eye I cannot tell the difference between the two.

I want to stay open. Pema says stay open. Pema says soften in the face of great suffering.

I want to let my apprehension soften me, but I have no practice in this. I want to let my fear soften me, but I have no practice in this. I want to let my hurt soften me, but I have no practice in this.

What I want to do, instinctively: Close up, shut down, lock up, disappear. Cease to exist. Wink out of existence, taking the whole living world with me.

The miracle of existence is like a large boulder pushed uphill- and I carry a little bit of backpedaling inside of me. I use this backpedaling for all sorts of things- second-guessing, chronic doubt, the fear-based decision making that can destroy relationships. The miracle is that the boulder continues to rise- up and up and up. The boulder has always been heavy, and the slope does not change- mostly we are strong, but sometimes we are very, very weak. Somehow the boulder continues to rise.

The question is, how do I stay open. How do I stay vulnerable. How do I stay present. How do I continue to exist.

When I am open, everything good that wants to happen is allowed to happen. I am a conduit for good, and my experience of reality is one of understanding. And there is so much to understand. I am the hub in a vast wheel of fluid, kaleidoscoping reality, and while I focus my gaze in one direction, attempting to understand, everything else around me is shifting, coming together and apart, changing. It is the never-arriving wheel of the great cart of the universe, and I am captivated and awestruck, a small insect on its wooden spokes. I am on the wheel and the wheel is moving through me, I am the dirt path through the North Dakota prairie, I am the river ford. I am the universe, I have the universe inside me. The universe is moving.

When I am closed, nothing good that wants to happen is allowed to happen. The sunshine is awful, the rain is awful. The stars ask my permission to shine, and I tell them no. The stars, hurt and confused, leave the sky, and the night is impossibly dark. Instead of a kaleidoscope, the universe is a folded-up piece of cloth, hidden away out fear. When I am closed I am a house with no air, no movement, a house in which it is impossible for even a houseplant to live. In this sad, dark place, the small pilot lights of my soul begin to wink out, one by one. This is the place where the universe goes to die. This is the cold, black maw of space, the great infinite nothingness. This is the dark place.

I have to admit it: it’s not just a human problem. Even my dog is insecure. Manipulative. Insincere. Fear-aggressive. My eight-pound chihuahua pushes her small boulder up her small hill- climbing and climbing and climbing. She grows weary, but somehow she does not stop climbing. She works to stay open, even in the face of great apprehension. She works to be generous, even in the face of great scarcity. And much of the time, she fails.

My dog’s flaws are what make her perfect. My dog’s flaws are what make her real. My dog’s flaws are what prove that she, in spite of everything, somehow, miraculously, exists. And isn’t that what we all want, deep down below everything? Down in our bedrock, below the layers of fear, below the stories we tell ourselves. What we really want: to exist.

I want to exist.

One thought on “Sometimes I think that to stay open is the hardest thing.

  1. i cannot believe how unbelievably good, precise, beautiful and accurate your writing/perspective is. at least here. i don’t really know how i found your blog – i googled wisdom and loneliness on a whim, i think – but i’m so glad to read these posts. what do you do, now?

Comments are closed.