POSTCARD #245: New Delhi: Arriving at the breakfast table like a ship docking in the harbor. Sliding in to coffee and bagels. Spread butter on toasted bagel, then honey and slices of banana. A piece of it held between finger and thumb comes into vision for a moment and it disappears somewhere below my nose, as head tilts forward in a teeth/tongue snatch, chewing, chewing and swallow. Wonderful, the world enters my body – gratitude (“give us this day our daily bread…”). Transfiguration of flesh, blood and bones, fingernails and hair grow.
Hands and face wash – hot soapy water dribbling down bare arms, coldness in the chill air. It drops off at the elbows in two puddles on the floor… sudden déjà vu, memory of an unreasonable fear, guilt. Must have been a childhood scolding. Dry it all up, headache like a cue ball colliding with the inner walls of the skull. Always like this, in every new circumstance, reassembling the parts of who I am, and nothing seems to fit; searching for a ‘self’ to be satisﬁed with – or dissatisfied with, or upset, or angry, confused, depressed, gloomy or sad.
I’m drawn back across the years to how it must have been at birth. Sudden embodiment in a separate physicality, immense sound, trauma of coldness that has no name, the shock of air entering unopened lungs. All the early events from there on that are internalized; unexpected fear, huge sensations – everything happening without language to give it form so it cannot be understood. All the hurt and pain deeply embedded in who I am today.
My life is conditioned by these energy imprints, which are as present now as they were “then” – the past doesn’t exist, ‘clock time’ doesn’t cover it. There is only the karma of circumstances contained in present moment awareness.
I’m so glad to know this, if I didn’t have the PHN headache condition, I wouldn’t feel as motivated to look everywhere for a cure, and thus begin to uncover the mystery. A handful of meds swallowed with a swig of bottled water and in a short while, the headache is gone, everything begins to fall into an easing… long sigh of outbreath. I cannot find language that fits the moment.
The melancholia of winter. It takes a while to notice the sun shining through the kitchen extractor fan. Around this time, the shadow cast by the next-door building moves away. I can go up now to the roof terrace and sit in the sunshine… footsteps on concrete steps, flip-flop, flip-flop, flip… disappear up the staircase
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.