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Lions Roar : September 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2011 38 Envy How odd to be jealous of one’s lover’s Long ago lovers, when one should thank them For their various failures. And strengths. And odder, this desire to rank them As she must rank them, but will never say. Where is the handsome Christian? Or the one Who said he wasn’t married? Or the short British man whose parents were far more fun? And what about the existentialist Who kissed so well she swooned on the street, But was far too rational to feel joy? I celebrate the men who preceded me— Just as the bank celebrates each debtor— Because they make me look so much better. Pride A female fan, upon meeting my wife, Said, “Oh, wow, you must have a wonderful life Since you have such a wonderful writer For a husband. The book, The Fistfighter, Is so charming. Your husband must be charming, too.” And my wife thought, What a literate fool! Only a poet’s spouse fully learns the truth: We writers are the worst kind of cruel, Because we worship our own stories and poems, And what human can compete with metaphors? Writers stand still and yet vacate our homes Inside our fantasies. We are word-whores, With libidos and egos of balsa wood. We’d have sex with our books, if only we could. Gluttony If I were single, would I be thinner? Do I overeat because I don’t compete With the flat-bellied bachelors? Or do we Thick husbands look and feel thicker Whenever our wives see a slender man? Or does it matter? Of course it matters. The Seven Deadly Sins of Marriage to make an effort at all times. It is so much simpler than that. Here, exertion is the noble act of taking an interest. When you get along, you take an interest in that. When you don’t, you take an interest in that, too. You take an interest when you are able to con- nect with your beloved openly, gracefully, and easily, and also when you connect to them with grumpi- ness, stupidity, and a sense of entitlement. Taking an interest is not about reductive analysis or figur- ing out what is going on so you can dispatch it. It is a way of opening to your own experience—and to your beloved—with tenderness and honesty. It is the act of continuously disposing of your agenda to instead live your experience fully, which gives rise to vitality, energy, and joy. Exertion, as Chögyam Trungpa defined it, is to “work unceasingly with our own neurosis and speed.” Who doesn’t want to be married to some- one who does that? When I know that my husband is committed to work in this way, whether he succeeds or fails in any particular instance, I not only trust him, my heart melts toward him. MEDITATION In meditation practice, the breath is the object of attention. You train yourself to notice when the mind strays from the breath, let go of what it has strayed to, and then return to the breath. Our practice in a relationship is similar, but instead of the breath, love itself is our mutual object of attention. When atten- tion strays into rage, disconnection, resentment—or even affection, delight, and passion—we come back to love. By love, I don’t mean any particular feel- ing. Perhaps opening is a better word. When my husband pisses me off with his unbelievably hyper- critical comments, or I irritate the crap out of him with my self-absorption or complete lack of spatial awareness, I’m not suggesting that he or I drop our feelings and try to be all sweet and nice to each other. I’m suggesting that we simply open to each other. Again. Again. Again. Who is he to me right now? Someone I love. And now? Someone I despise. Someone who bores me. Inspires me. Soothes me. And who is he right now, and right now, as best I can tell? Someone who feels happy. Sad. Alone. Confused. When it comes to love, the best you can hope for (and it is far better than whatever you may imagine, based on movies and whatnot) is not someone for whom you feel love all ➢ page 89