Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4
by Richard Brautigan
Get enough food to eat, and eat it. 2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet, and sleep there. 3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise until you arrive at the silence of yourself, and listen to it. 4.
Pretty soon, I am leaving. Not for long. Just a few days.
The plan is to stare at the ocean for long stretches of time. I will have books--they may be opened, or not. I will have a notebook and a pen. The notebook may stay blank.
The phone, while with me, will ideally be off. This stresses me out a little.
I don't disconnect well--I'm constantly plugged in somewhere, constantly engaged in something, so that my alone time either feels not alone at all or totally, utterly, lost-in-space-and-time alone.
So I am going away, and I'm not bringing anyone with me, and I'm going to stare at the ocean and be quiet. I won't say silent--I might sing.
I need to disconnect to move past the disconnected feeling I have been living in. Doing more hasn't helped me feel better or stronger.
I am not putting expectations on this trip, other than the sound of the waves, crashing in rhythm. I may learn nothing. But a part of me hopes I can learn to recognize again that giving yourself grace is not lazy.
Maybe I'll be reminded that I am safe and secure in an insecure world.
Hopefully I'll see again that the people who love me love me intensely, and that those who don't, don't need to.
I am bringing some poems with me on the trip. The one up at the top speaks to the inspiration of the whole trip. Hopefully, I'll have a copy of William Stafford's book Even in Quiet Places--possibly the only book of poetry to actually make me feel like I was discovering something.
And this one:
by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.
The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.
What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.
If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.
Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.
(ps. Thanks to Eric G. for reminding me what poetry can do.)