Last night I didn’t sleep much. I tossed and turned in my bed, and thoughts tossed and turned in me. My sheets wrapping me up like a present. Around 4am I listened to Eckhart Tolle for a bit and learned how I create my own suffering. Then I listened to Sydney Banks and learned that there’s no such a thing as suffering. Then I listened to David Whyte and learned that the poet Fleur Adcock used to be a librarian and she wrote erotica.
Eventually, I just lay there and listened to my thinking. How I was trained at an early age to listen for the message behind words. That narrow safe moment between my dad sober and his staggering. The silence of his rage as it strolled into the room before him. How bewildered I was at the stark reality of his disinterest in me. How he could never mask his unwavering disgust at the inferiority of my gender. How I reflected his failure to provide a necessary heir. Hollowed and melancholy, I began bending my way around the innumerable years, walking with a stoop under the weight of his collapsed heart, and mine. With parents, there’s always a story.
It was 5am. I turned on my side and away from thoughts of my dad. Ok, so I guess I should’ve gotten up to make tea but thinking is so addictive. Then I thought about humans and how we all have the same thoughts, at one time or another. Is the only difference between Hitler and me that I don’t act? I don’t act; I could do much with that. But if all personal thought is impersonal, how can I believe any of it? And if it’s not to be believed, then I’m back thinking Eckhart Tolle is right and I do create my own suffering. And Sydney Banks is right and there really isn’t such a thing as suffering. And how I’d like to be a librarian writing erotica. Then I’m back at wondering if I’ll ever have sex again.
Then it was 5.05am. All that happened in just 5 minutes. I lay there a bit longer and remembered a call I had yesterday with my friend Linda. I was talking about my going back to England, about my dad, and about how, when I was five, I made myself a promise never to love him.
“I’d like not to hate him,” I said to Linda. I was in my office. Sage hung around the ceiling like a cloud without an afternoon breeze. I could hear the gardener’s leaf blower outside shaking things up. I stared at a picture of my father on the bookcase. He looked more like a waxwork person than a waxwork person looks. His arms stiff and hanging like dead branches. No laugh lines to wrinkle his stiff face. Even the frown between his eyes was stiff. His traveler pants crease so stiff his pants could have walked away vacant of him. Poor dad I thought. Never quite the child, the father or the man he wanted to be. “But I made myself a promise,” I said.
I lay in bed and started to think about Anita Moorjani. How her body healed once she left it. How when she died, so did the toxic biology of her thinking. When she came back to life her cancer was gone. I thought about how it was my biology that made the promise about my dad so I guess I can let it go, well if I want to be more than my biology that is. But what healed Anita Moorjani’s body? By now it was 5.30am and I was exhausted. I mean I was back where I always end up, contemplating the meaning life and the reality of all that exists beyond our intellectual comprehension. How much of me is fear, how much is love. How much is me, how much of me is God.
It was time to get up, which I did. And I went for a run. Shaking off like a wet dog all thoughts about God, and fathers, and promises, and stiff frowns, and decades of stooping through life. By the time I got home I was back at thinking about more serious things, like if I’ll ever have sex again and what sort of milk to put in my tea.