Number Nein

Noa requested a post about today, and the truth is I already wrote one, but something’s happening and I suddenly lost my confidence. I’ll show you the post, but first I want to say that, exactly a minue after I wrote it, I developed the kind of migraine that makes you want to puke. I’m not kidding. And it just goes to show you 1) how completely full of shit I am sometimes, and 2) how the universe has got my back or is on my ass or some combination of the two. I thank you, universe. And I thank you, Noa.

After I post this, I’ll post another, because, it’s true—today was magic. O.K., here’s Number Nein:

Today, in a small, white cafe in Mitte, a photographer from Madrid who I’d just met, told me that Europe and America were like an alcoholic family—the crooks on Wall Street and in Bush’s government were the drunken father, and Europe the abused wife, beaten and raped every day. (Unemployment is now at twenty-five per cent in Spain, where he’s from.) He wasn’t complaining. He wasn’t attacking me, either, or anyone, really. He was sipping his espresso on a beautiful summer day, talking to a friend of friends (who were at the table too, an American and a Londoner, talking about alternative healing).

Having grown up in Spain and having lived all over Europe in the seventies, eighties and nineties (I imagine), he’s seen a lot of very harsh shit—harsher than I have: His friends in Spain believed in a revolution and then were betrayed. Some of them ended up dead from from heroin and AIDs. Dead, that is, I’m guessing, from disappointment.

He smiled and I smiled. This is life, nein? The way the wheel goes round and round. We are lucky; we are sitting in a white cafe in Mitte, drinking espresso and fighting over the bill. Europeans know how to be poor, he said. And I inferred that he meant they would be O.K. I believe that Americans know how to be poor as well. He said, “Nothing is going to happen.”

Reggie tells a story about a time that Trungpa Rinpoche was in love a young woman who was not in love with him. One day he was sitting on some stairs somewhere, crying and crying, and finally one of his closer students asked him why. (I’m not sure what the “why” was: why he was crying, why he was so in love with this woman, something.) Rinpoche’s response was something like this: “It’s so hard to find the opportunity to feel anything, one way or the other.” He was taking the opportunity.

I feel glad to not be swallowed up by pain, my own or someone else’s. And I also feel, writing this, a little worried about being untouched by the pain that I know is all around me. And yet I think that this may be the practice: to see it, to know where it’s coming from and how it feels, but to not get attached to it.

But I don’t really know. This is all new. This is all just now.

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