On presence

"I am a creature," I wrote, "of inertia and sequence and force of habit."

I wake up. I take Concerta. I shower (always shower, or when would I shave?), lie down, let my hair dry badly before I comb it. Brush my teeth. Check my pockets. Step out for the day. Go somewhere I can write. Plant my ass in front of a monitor and write. Go places to look at books we all know I will neither read in full nor bring home with me, or won't read if I do bring them home. Eat a meal, sometimes even a memorable one. Brush my teeth again at night before I pray before I nominally go to bed.

More than a few times, that prayer's been awkward when I realize how little I have to say. The well-being of my friends, because I'm the only one who isn't routinely sick with something. The causes of peace and justice that nothing I do causes. And then, invariably, my self.

Who am I here for? The honest answer is, most days, "Not even you, Edo." 90% of life, they say, is just showing up. On a lot of days I don't even put the effort in to do that. And changing that is no easy task.

Some of the people I'm there for, I'm there for because it's part of my routine. R. calls me every day, almost, and usually I ignore most of those calls, but I do pick up one or two of them (especially the last of the night.) Thursday mornings are for the Therapist and thinking together. Thursday and Friday are time with the Student. Sunday is traditionally time with F (although it's been very irregular.)

Other people, though... other people I need to work to be in touch with them.
The woman I love, for instance. Every year is a constant refrain of long letters, cards because the long letters are taking too long, the dance of almost-contact on Facebook, digital hugs, and the endless lamentations of the separated: Miss you. Wish you were here. We average eight hours a year of physical presence together, exultant, close as conjoined twins, knowing that our parting will once more make love and adoration a struggle.

A lot of my friends are like that. N., in and out of prison, on and off social media; the first person who ever told me that he loved me, "And I don't mean that in a gay way, just... fuck, man, this is the revolution... and if you can't love your fellow revolutionaries, who can you love?" J., my closest companion for years, who last spoke to me the night my father died. Moose, who I last spoke to on New Years' Day, shortly after calling the woman I love first. K., in Iceland, who helped me out with money when I wrecked my car. E., currently I know not where, but who's engaged through it all (and introduced me to Converge.)

The woman I love was the first person I realized this about, but it's expanded from there. Increasingly I'm realizing that I need to work on my presence. Because no dance of language ever can replace being there in silence and meaning together. Because they were there for me first. Because the good I've done - one of the greatest goods - was just showing up.

The Cloud of Unknowing and Thomas Merton both juxtapose contemplation and action. I can neither contemplate nor act, at least not yet; but presence, once I gave voice to the concept, appealed to me for the same reasons that regulation did. That sense that I can do this.

But doing that will be no easy task.

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