Friday, April 09, 2010

Love is not something to fear

I was on duty last night around 4 AM when the police called. "We have a frantic mother trying to reach her son at the residence. Can you look up his room number for us?"

"At the residence? No. But I can transfer you to the receptionist there." And I did so.

Soon after, I got the call from the residence receptionist. "The police are here. They're looking for a student."


After a short pause: "Self-harm."

We sent a guard over to the residence and while she and the police were looking for the student, the boy was elsewhere. He had made one phone call to say only, "I love you, mom." and now he was speeding his car through a low brick wall to plunge over the lip of the escarpment.

Today his injuries were downgraded from life-threatening to non-life-threatening.

What I loved about the patrol guard position was my ability to interact with people who were in bad circumstances and to make a positive difference in their lives; from the little things like helping them get to their exam on time to the bigger things, like first-aid situations; or like the time I helped two former lovers gain perspective and settle peaceably after a strained break-up led to stalking charges. I accepted the promotion to sergeant in order to get more free time to write on the job - because writing is my best way to potentially help people. Right?

So I was enjoying my free time in the control room while other guards were present at the pub earlier that night, as a tiff broke out between friends. These other guards intervened, learned the nature of the quarrel, and sent them on their way to resolve it on their own.

A friend had admitted the feelings in his heart, you see, and the other friend, to which the feelings were directed, did not respond in kind, but with hostility instead. It might surprise you: which of these two friends got the notion to end his life. All while I was not present; no longer available to seek to make a difference through personal connection.

Now one boy is a mess from the waist down and the state of his mind remains to be seen.

The other, mentally, is a wreck. He blames himself. And he's terrified that his dear friend will not wish to see him upon emergence from the Intensive Care Unit; perhaps ever again.

Love is not something to fear. However did we start thinking it can be? That is just one simple piece of advice out of a great many that I would offer were I not handcuffed by policy from interfering. My heart aches for them both and for the mother. I'm deeply compelled to act. So many perspectives I could share. I know how instincts cage the mind in these circumstances, enslaving it to one's fears, stripping one's field of vision.

He lived. He lived!

And now there is opportunity - for many kinds of healing and many kinds of learning and for new appreciation of the miracle of life and the miracle of love. Because critical life events breed new perspectives, new intelligence, new capacities. Sometimes people just need a gentle nudge or two from someone who cares and who understands some things.

And I don't think I give a damn about policy.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Novel: Siddhartha

(1922, Hermann Hesse)

Two different people who were relative strangers to me at the time, immediately recommended this book to me upon hearing from me a summary of my current "poetic life journey." The telling of my journey in each of these cases, was told rather effectively by the way; something much more difficult to achieve when speaking to my old friends and family; a phenomena which happens to be addressed around the climax of the novel, by the way.

Almost immediately I began to connect thoroughly to the Siddhartha character. Every encounter, every perception, every reaction to his experiences almost precisely mirrors my own. Add to that comforting symmetry the simple, gentle, almost lyrical prose and this reading experience is by far the deepest, most endearing of any I've had.

But the character and I did not go through our mirrored experiences in the same order and as we finally crossed paths - that is - the moment in the book when Siddhartha had gathered the same set of perceptions that I currently hold - we were moving in different directions. Not that this matters much. I read the remainder with rapt attention of course, wondering whether Hesse was about to reveal my future to me.

What I read then, through to the end, contained more perceptions that Siddhartha gathered in his lifelong pursuit of enlightenment, harmony and unity. I could not have predicted the conclusion. He finds subtle error in some of his previous positions; positions that I still currently hold, and a key component of his final core enveloping understanding; that which makes him at par with Buddha, according to Hesse, is one that I would have much trouble consolidating with my own understandings because the beauty of my own understandings as they currently sit, at least so far as all my critical auditing so far reveals, is that they all support each other and are all in symmetry with the basic poetic origins of the main religions (as I perceive them), in symmetry with the sciences as far as I understand them, in symmetry with the purest application of logic, and in symmetry with all honest observation through our five senses.

But this one core component upon which Siddhartha's final answers depend upon - does not conform with honest observation of the five senses. Not mine, anyway, and doubtfully anyone else I know. Though it does conform with some theoretical scientific testimony concerning the nature of space and time - as far as I grasp it.

But no matter. The core idea which initially sent both Siddhartha and I on our respective unbeaten paths was our perception that knowledge and wisdom can not be taught but must be experienced. And so I put this dear book aside and despite the deep deep trust I have for it, I leave its climactic testimony as testimony and I go on with experiencing and learning, but now with a little more strength and motivation; a little more validation; a little more confidence that I am not alone in my place in life.

Though the book has left me breathing a little shallow, my eyes a little watery, I can't say if I recommend it to anyone I know. Those who have been through the things I have been through - you would want to read this, undoubtedly. And I know you're out there somewhere. But sadly, we have not met.