“To say that the world is not worth anything, that this life is of no value and to give evil as the proof is absurd, for if these things are worthless what does evil take from us?
Thus the better we are able to conceive of the fullness of joy, the purer and more intense will be our suffering in affliction and our compassion for others. What does suffering take from him who is without joy?
And if we conceive the fullness of joy, suffering is still to joy what hunger is to food.
It is necessary to have had a revelation of reality through joy in order to find reality through suffering. Otherwise life is nothing but a more or less evil dream,” – Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace.
There’s that line – from the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. From the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.
Perhaps addiction can only be explained and understood by metaphor and poetry like the poems I have found in Kaveh Akbar’s book, Calling A Wolf A Wolf (more information here: http://kavehakbar.com/#/). I’m about halfway through and I’m holding back from reading more than one poem a day. I don’t want to finish this book. One poem a day blasts much needed space inside of me for contemplation, understanding, and hope.
Reading the lines in this poem, Being In This World Makes Me Feel Like A Time Traveler, is like recognizing myself in an interior mirror.
BEING IN THIS WORLD MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A TIME TRAVELER
visiting a past self. Being anywhere makes me thirsty.
When I wake, I ask God to slide into my head quickly before I do.
As a boy, I spit a peach pit onto my father’s prayer rug and immediately
it turned into a locust. Its charge: devour the vast field of my ignorance.
The Prophet Muhammad described a full stomach as containing
one-third food, one-third liquid, and one-third air.
For years, I kept a two-fists-long beard and opened my mouth only to push air out.
One day I stopped in a lobby for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres
and ever since, the life of this world has seemed still. Every night,
the moon unpeels itself without affectation. It’s exhausting, remaining
humble amidst the vicissitudes of fortune. It’s difficult
to be anything at all with the whole world right here for the having.
“Do not be bewildered by the surfaces; in the depths all becomes law.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Abba Lot visited Abba Joseph and summarized his religious life this way: “Abba, I recite the liturgy the best I can, sometimes I fast, I pray and meditate, I try to live peacefully with others, and I attempt to cleanse my thoughts. What more can I do?”
The old man Joseph stood up, stretching his hands toward heaven. His fingers seemed to be ten lamps of fire. He said to Lot, “If you will, you can become all flame.”
Rainer Maria Rilke – If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you, not in your intellect, perhaps, which lags marveling behind, but in your inmost consciousness, waking and cognizance.
I am reading a remarkable book of poetry by Kaveh Akbar, Calling A Wolf A Wolf. Brave, bold, astonishing – the poems express the desolation of addiction, the madness of alcoholism.
Portrait of the Alcoholic Floating in Space with Severed Umbilicus
The Real Work – by Wendell Berry (from Collected Poems, 1987)
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.