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Quiet Desperation, a dialogue

Updated on March 15, 2012

In making a very deliberate choice to use this week's blog as a framework for some of the most difficult, darkest, and most definitely challenging areas of my own life journey, I am finding that I am also giving myself an opportunity to find new creative synergy (per Wikipedia:"Synergy may be defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.") I am, by nature I suppose, a natterer, a chatterbox, a rambler----and I say this without offering a judgement for or against myself. It just is who I am.

But it also can get in the way of what I deeply perceive as another part of my essence. I cannot deny that I have held onto an altruistic nature, the "Don Quixote" part of me that wants to "right the wrongs" in the world as I have perceived them. So that, in turn, is what has led to this particular poem and photo essay.

The photo essay first, then. Yesterday I was on my porch deeply enjoying the unexpected warmth and beauty of the day. I became fascinated by a contrast I seldom saw in Southern California-----a sense that if I watched long enough, I could actually see winter turn to spring. I could see the bleakness of barren branch and deep shadows become blossom laden, and lit with sunshine. I did these photos in one brief walk yesterday. I wanted to see if I could capture that pivotal moment through digital photos. In viewing those photos last night, I realized that it was a perfect photo capture of this poem.

This poem, though, has a deeply personal, profound, and painful history. To go back to that nattering I tend towards doing. That nattering of mine has far too often collided with my sense of altruism. And that collision of two, the chattering nature of mine with the, if you will, "Boddhisatva Vow" has had an opposite impact of my intentions. Too often, I have found myself rushing onwards with my own opinion, my own view point. I unintentionally (and very unsuccessfully at that!) tried to impose my own solutions for another person's deep suffering. And that caused, not a path out of suffering for myself and that person, but rather a deeper journey for us both into yet more suffering. This lesson was harsh and painful.

At the time this poem was written, I was feeling exasperated with the suffering of a deeply loved friend---someone who had been a part of my life for well over two decades. But trying to work on my own exasperation brought a deeper understanding of myself, an epiphany in the truest sense. I ended up feeling a very deep regret at what I had, with the best of intentions, been putting us both through. This was written by way of trying to understand that for myself, and offer the most profound of apologies to her.

So, that is the framework, if you will, of both poem and photo essay. It is an avowal that I continue to work at simply lighting a fire, a candle, holding up a lantern for others and thus, lighting my own way out of darkness as well.

Quiet Desperation, a dialogue

One says,
I don't understand you,
you never talk to me
never tell me what is in
your heart and soul.
I just don't understand
why you seem to be
settled into a gray life
of quiet desperation;
I cannot tell
what you want and need
from me to bring color
back into your soul.

The other wants to reply...
but you should have heard,
you should have seen,
you should have understood
for my desperation was never quiet.
It screamed out to you, should have deafened you
as it finally deadened my spirit
so that now the desperation lives
between the resignation in my mind
and the anger in my heart.

One says,
I thought that we were
friends whose lives are always and ever
part of each other.
Now I wonder
do you want me to leave,
or should I remain here,
not quite inside your heart,
yet not quite outside it either.
You make me wonder
would it be better if
I continue holding your heart close to me
caught within this space and silence?

The other tries to say.
With longing looks
And silent voice,
Whatever you choose to do
Is your choice,
Made without my collaboration or consent.
In the end, you will do as you wish,
As you feel you must.

One says, and yet I still
don't know what you want
or need from me,
I don't know what I have
to give you
or take from you.
My heart breaks if I stay
your heart breaks if I leave;
I am left trying to force you
to tell me what you want
beyond this quiet desperation

Sighing, the other thinks,
there is no point in this,
I should walk away.
It is not that my desperation
has been so very quiet....
It is that you

Copyrights: Poem 10-28-06, revision 03-15,12; photography:03-14-12; combined blog, and photo essay:04-14-12: Cynthia L. Shubert-Jett. All rights retained.


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