Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I knew solitude different than loneliness. Solitude was the quiet of myself. I knew solitude as a kid when I wandered the streams and woods. I knew solitude driving through rural New York with an open window at sunset, after leaving Rich’s house, knowing finally I was not whom I had judged for so long, knowing change was possible. I knew solitude for a brief second in time beneath a hazy afternoon light in London, after all my gods had burned down and what didn’t burn was the truth to see. I knew solitude again sipping Cortadas in India under sheets of rain in a world upside down, a world I’d tortured with my fears, a world proven resilient and hardy, a world that still took all my breath away – when the wind gusted and ripped at the tarps and pushed my scooter sideways, but we laughed, were soaked, were lost, and sped through tiny villages under a jungle moon. In solitude I was not always alone. In solitude I was not always solemn. Solitude was wholly good and saturated with stillness, but solitude was not without sadness or grief or other emotions I’d so often considered indicators of wrong direction. My solitude contained the multitude of all my emotions. In solitude, there was no separation. I realize this seems a contradiction.
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, all my good intentions toward the world appear inefficient and misdirected. I see how my angry mind, my sad mind, even my excited mind, all lessened my abilities to help people. So many times I have let my unsettled mind lead me, and I have stepped in so much shit along the way, failing to bite my tongue, hurting others in my childish rants. Both you and I suffer the consequences of my ‘good intentions.’ My stomach churns with my regrets for what I’ve said. My heart clouds not knowing how to overcome myself. I believed so deeply I was right to say what I did! But now I see the denseness of my self-denial. I refuse to continue this. I refuse to leap into the mud with you. What help would I be to you then? I must have a peaceful mind before I might bring peace to the world. This is hard and I have been so frustrated in this challenge. The storms still come and rage. I see my storms in you, and it terrifies me what we will do to each other.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I wonder for what I was always searching. There were times when I was so sure of what I wanted. But when I gained it, either I was disillusioned or immediately began searching for more. There was never any permanent contentment with anything gained. Things, people and situations came and went; my emotions rose and fell. Moments of sublime bliss too, but those moments also went. I don’t believe I’m alone in this struggle for permanence. We all struggle. We all keep searching. But this… during those rare moments when I have stopped searching – as on that day I walked in the woods and was struck dumb by the falling leaves – there was stillness and no time, no frame for ideas like permanence or temporary. I felt suddenly there was no need for anything. I was here. I needed go nowhere. Where have I gone since?
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, who was the real me? How many different ways have I seen myself in this life? How strongly did I think myself a certain person, only to years later not even remember who I thought I was? How many Me’s have I forgotten? How many people did I hurt, how long did I suffer myself, in defense of these ghosts? It appears I have spent much time and energy on this personal project.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I look at how I read books. In childhood, I read books for joy and, possibly, escape. However, whatever the motivation, books opened my guts to places they’d never been, and I often found myself reading in wonder and constant surprise. I spent many hours with red eyes in a cold bath because I couldn’t put down a book. Stories nourished me, stories about people I’d never met, stories about ideas I’d never made. In adulthood, I’ve found myself reading books differently. Now I read books in an attempt to validate what I already know. I try to fit the author’s words to my concepts, and mostly I’m successful; I leave the most indigestible books at the store. So if I’m doing this with books, what else might I be doing it with?
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I see how teachers entered my life. At first, I barely recognized them and their voices scared me. But by the end of our lessons together, I realized their voice sounded oddly similar to my own. They were always me, weren’t they? They also say that our enemies are our greatest teachers. The process is the same.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I see how quickly I abandoned truth for security. During those times when I was at the brink, when my emotions and thoughts wrecked me, eventually I always turned to comfortable ideas for solace. How many self-help books did I read to satisfy my self-doubt? How many spiritual videos did I watch to satiate my grieving heart? I told myself I was truth seeking. Was it the truth I sought, or simply respite from the truth that was right there shaking my life to smithereens and begging for my attention? In my seeking I discovered all new comforting ideas. I thought these ideas so unique and special and profound, but were they any different than the comforting ideas of my youth that I had come to judge in adulthood? Are those who seek solace in marriage, legacy building or the promised bliss of an afterlife any different than myself seeking solace in meditation, good karma or the idea of spiritual enlightenment? I felt so secure in my newfound “truths” that I became a bigot judging others as bigots. I felt so secure that I had to convince everybody that my way was better. Ultimately, I was quite fooled and I acted the part. Ultimately, what I’ve realized, is that security delivers no truth, and truth does not promise security. Ultimately, I just have to let my life shake without going for refuge. Shake and wake, baby. Shake and wake.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, I recall the stretches when I felt so engaged in my own growth and every day seemed to offer a startling new perspective. Now, sometimes I miss those days, wish to return and feel the excitement of those lessons again. But I cannot go back. Even if I could, I would rot in those stale slack winds. I have new lessons to learn now, truths even more profound and engaging, lessons that transcend any that came before. Maybe I wish for old lessons because I seek their security. I always hesitated before stepping into a new classroom.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, it was not the knowledge I gained, but the attitude of learning that altered me most. I do not remember Calculus or Caligula. But I remember my openness, my questioning the validity of my own opinion, my willingness to hear another perspective. They say to fix the world we must educate it. But perhaps we don’t need a common curriculum. Perhaps what we need is a return to a spirit of wonder and teachability. So I’ll pray for my humility today, and hope my arrogance is fleeting.
Looking through the keyhole at my tiny experience, it seems greater to have found peace in the Nothing Times than in the Everything Times. When I was in a rut, when I felt dull and was desperate for newness and change, when I felt defeated and retreated–what if I found peace with all that Nothing? Well, sometimes I did; I found myself neutral with no need. Then, suddenly, life began to fill with amazing substance, sometimes so quickly I wished for the dull days again.