Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I can understand why someone might think my past problems larger than any I have today, but problems exist in their own bubbles and don’t consider comparisons when felt. Long ago I had a thought that soon I should be sentenced to prison, but hardly I can remember that thought today. No, today I had the thought that I might not eat until 2, and it seemed a huge problem.
These are all texts that begin with the phrase “Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience.” I wrote using this prompt for 50 consecutive days.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, there was nothing to learn, there was nothing to gain, nothing to lose, nothing to worry about, nothing to improve, nothing to worsen, nothing to see, nothing to seize, nothing to mind, nothing to hate, nothing to love, nothing to defend, nothing to say, nothing to reach, nothing to be. It was very simple.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I brought all the drama. My fucking resistance.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I can understand how my inner state changed the world. When I felt centered, calm and peaceful, I was able to be present for those closest to me. I was able to listen, to show compassion, even to dissolve negative emotions they carried. My peace became their peace. They then took this peace and, in turn, passed it onto those people closest to them. And so five became 25 became 125, until the whole world felt the impact of my peace. I noticed that when I felt most peaceful, everything seemed pregnant with the potential for beauty, the intensity of that potential directly proportionate to the intensity of my own peace at the time. The opposite is also true. If I am angry with those closest to me, that anger is transmitted to all the world’s people. And so, whatever happiness I see in the world today, I might say I had a part in making that. And the same goes for the anger I see in the world. And the dishonesty. And the arrogance. And the judgmental views… I can change all that.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, two progressions come to mind. The first progression was downward and defined by increasing self-hate. Its floor was despair and emotional numbness and complete self-centered fear. I don’t understand why the progression didn’t continue its momentum, which would have surely ended my life; and I have no doubt that such an end still remains a possibility. However, there was a floor. From that floor began the second progression, and it was upward. It was defined by increasing inner silence. Also came self-acceptance, self-responsibility, humility, love and selflessness. No ceiling has yet been reached; I’m not sure that there is a ceiling. And I wonder if the heights would be as great if the depths weren’t as low.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, sometimes I’m sad with the thought of all the people I’ve said goodbye to. There are so many places I’ve left, people I met there, across the oceans… This is my melancholy, depressing, woe-is-me shit, when I bring forth that thought of “I won’t ever see their faces again.” I could stew on the surface of that thought for hours. But there is something epic beneath its surface. Something legendary. It is the stories of them. The stories I made of them. Each face is a novel. Maybe what I miss most is the thought there will be no new stories made of each face. But have I written the stories already there? Have I read all that they were to me? The best stories — and have no doubt that each face I have seen in this life is a ‘best story’–can be read hundreds of times, and though the words be the same, each time it will be new, because I am new. So, I like to think that all those people I said goodbye to, have come along and changed with me, and I will continue to refresh their legends.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I knew many gifts of desperation. I was desperate for my father’s approval, for my mother’s comfort, for my classmates’ validation, for a relationship to define me, for a career to define me, for financial security. I even became desperate to stop drinking alcohol. However, when I finally gained all those things, even when the bottle was put down, the desperation remained. And I found myself wondering what really I was desperate for? Somehow I knew its taste, its flavor; all my life seemed pointed towards it. What that thing is continues to allude me, but I continue to check off boxes of what that thing is not.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, it became obvious that person, place or thing did not determine my peace. I once stood atop the island of Capri and looked down from the cliffs at a remarkably blue sea, and this was probably the most beautiful place in the world, and a beautiful woman who loved me was awaiting my return to a dazzling hotel room given for free. But I felt such insecurity that weekend that my mind had wrecked me. I remember feeling such anxiety in that moment, nearly I was in tears. There was no beauty; I couldn’t see it, and I felt so confused and guilty for not being able to enjoy what certainly must be the definition of happiness. I thought, What was wrong with me? A little part of me was made clearer that day; something was clarified.
Several years before Capri, I had also felt miserable, but back then I felt I had good reasons why. I had a dead-end job, no relationship, no money, no passport — if only I could change these things, I thought, I could finally be happy. I never did get those things, not yet, but I did get sober. I began to look inward, doing work upon my fears and taking responsibility for myself. Until one night, sitting alone on the floor of my bare apartment with a candle, I suddenly realized a peace I had never before known. The world began to look different. Work became more exciting; I began to bring more creativity to my job. New friends appeared; I fostered friendships that redefined friendship for me. And though I wasn’t making any more money than before, it was fine; I actually started to give to charities. Nothing had changed on the outside, and yet, everything had changed.
So, I remember all this now. And today when I suffer, while I do not refuse or repress the suffering, I remind myself that my potential for a peaceful mind is always the same, no matter who is around me, where I live, where I work, what I own, my health, or how much money I have. Nothing can take my peace from me, as long as I find it within, as long as I continue toward that funkadelic, misunderstood concept called spiritual growth.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I question the motives behind my professional work as a creative. I continuously oscillated between producing work I thought the client might appreciate, or doing work true to myself. The former way, the way of the salesman, paid meager rewards, sometimes only money and applause. The latter way, the way of the Authentic, confronted fear (that same insecurity which drives the salesman to sell his lifetime for a dime of appreciation) but this way proved most fulfilling, most honest in the end. And, though this seem a contradiction, working true to oneself has always been the more selfless way.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I see my hypocrisy. Once, I spoke about honesty–how honest I was! But, man, I always spoke to please others. My actions were intended not to offend, to be safe, and to avoid arousing any suspicion that I might be different or weird. How honest was I when I couldn’t ever be authentic to myself?