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modem pain
2002-10-31 - 12:48 a.m.

There's something about the way this modem makes its dial-in noises that makes me think it's screaming in pain.

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Um, here's some stuff I wrote on the train.

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I’ve been thinking about John Howard. Yesterday I had a fantastic encounter with him in which my anger blazed out, and I said to him, “You are a worthless piece of garbage”.

Later, thinking about why I had this particular fantasy, and why I had said those particular words, I said to myself, perhaps it is me that is a worthless piece of garbage; perhaps this is what I really believe, and from that fear those words came.

Tonight I was reading in a book by Thich Nhat Hanh. The book said:

“There is a gatha, or poem, that we can use to help us:

Angry in the ultimate dimension

I close my eyes and look deeply

Three hundred years from now

Where will you be and where shall I be?

When we are angry, what do we usually do? We shout, scream, and try to blame someone else for our problems. But looking at anger with the eyes of impermanence, we can stop and breathe. Angry at each other in the ultimate dimension we close our eyes and look deeply. We try to see three hundred years into the future. What will you be like? What will I be like? Where will you be? Where will I be? We need only to breathe in and out, look at our future and at the other person’s future. We do not need to look as far as three hundred years. It could be fifty or sixty years from now when we have both passed away.

Looking at the future, we see that the other person is very precious to us. When we know that we can lose them at any moment, we are no longer angry. We want to embrace her or him and say: ‘How wonderful, you are still alive. I am so happy. How could I be angry with you? Both of us have to die someday, and while we are still alive and together it is foolish to be angry at each other’.”

As I read these words, I imagined I was embracing John Howard. He felt very small, and frail, and old. His shoulders were thin, and his arms around my back held me very lightly. I felt sad because I knew he must be dying, but I was happy to be making peace with him. I no longer felt that I was rubbish; I felt only the shoulders in my arms, and the arms on my back.

Then I became afraid because I knew that – no, I feared that soon I would be shouting again, tomorrow or the next day. I will see something in the newspaper, and coil up like a viper, and spit venom.

I can only spit venom by becoming a venomous thing. I feel happy and at peace, but I know I won’t be here forever. I’ve left this place too many times to think it could be permanent. And yet I’m sure this instant is an eternal one; where could it end? Someone I know is always quoting Plato: “Only the dead have seen an end to war”, and I think now, the opposite must be true, too: all of the living have known eternal peace.

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"And I was tumbled up with them

In formless circumstance" - Leonard Cohen


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