I went out for dinner with a friend last night. A curious, and charming friend, someone close, and yet – not. Time doesn’t seem to matter. But then again, it does. There is no history, but yet again, maybe enveloped. Our slow-growing friendship furtive at times, insightful at others, earthy, shaping, questing, curious, beguiling at times, mesmerizing with an edge at other moments, challenging at times, but wishing it not. I challenge myself enough. Sometimes a wistful layer of fondness for myself is missing, and understanding, rather than questioning motives. But such it is, as it is, and so be it; and so perhaps I need to find yet deeper places of silence. Not share as much, lament less. Be wistfully present to listen more.
In the course of our conversation, the word ‘stay’ came up. As I was sharing of my dilemma – to stay, or go, feeling grounded with many connections, yet feeling astray at times, needing to face the responsibilities of aging, pension, and care. A cry that only my own heart may lament within for itself – for there lies some of my remorse, some of my regret, and a great deal of my responsibility. Some crazed, howling sentiment, some perturbed essence calls me to the edge of the water, the edge of a riverbank, where stealth, abstract art may reckon itself against the pine timber of a mythical shack. And then like a resonating sheath of memory tugging on my shirtsleeve – ‘stay’ lingers, like the burning scent of autumn leaves. ‘Stay,’ she says Pema says.
I woke up early. It has been my intention as of late to sit in silence in the mornings, upon awakening, and to nurture and deepen that silence, as a result of a most recent ‘call,’ a whisper of cloud that morphed its way into cognizance with a simple expression of sacred need: “I’ll I want is silence.” All this Mystery wants of me, at this stage. A preparation of sorts – perhaps, though I won’t assume that to be true.
As I drifted into the breath of this Saturday morn, the word ‘stay’ began to drift up from somewhere, that ‘where’ didn’t matter. But maybe the accompanying voices did: evidence of a chronic argument; one that given another past, another history, I would have shared with this odd friend. However, I felt that present circumstances do not permit me to do so. However, steadfast wisdom concurs: stay with the ‘stay.’ There were responses to all of the questions: stay with who? How to stay? And why? Reckoning a when and where most probable too. An urgency to the questions, and yet evidence that my own personal compassion was being reckoned with.
And then, a lingering memory of the past: ‘Stay gold, Ponyboy.’ Indeed, lingering. Oh the layers, the decades, even the distress around that favorite, moving text: “The Outsiders,” a novel I came across, rather a suggestion to read by one of my teachers, way back when in high school. A dramatic rip into the life of gangs, and grief, and early love, of abandonment, of belonging, of death and grief; a weighted and pensive anguish, penned by S. E Hinton, a mere 16 yr.–old girl, but knowing what it was like to have been there. Attached with that were the deposits of how Ponyboy lingered, in and out of my pockets – for much of my life. I had forgotten about him, and his dear friend, and the chagrin of their relationship – within, and without. I had wanted to share all of this and more, and how the wildness of that part of my life had kept me and restored me to the deposits of nostalgia and imagination. In some ways, the breath was crushing. The heart gets tired of being isolated from its own stories. Witness is a potent healer. Loneliness harbors no voice – and that is part of its poison.
I came out of the meditation with a promise to hold the ‘stay,’ yes, ‘stay with the stay,’ for as much the heart would need to endure, tenderly a must. And too with a promise from something Mysterious, that there would be a day to relive some of these wild sentiments, to nurture the tide, to hold them as necessary, to let go as necessary again; an enthralling promise for me to hold with and for myself. For without these promises, might all be forgotten? And yet – isn’t it all?
I collect myself, gathering my robes of quiet, taking my tussled memories with me, trusting the day might and probably would reveal more. I got into the car, on my way to a morning breakfast meeting. A tap on the radio dial took me to the programmed CBC, Saturday morning show. An interview was taking place. I listened tentatively. The ever so brief passing of the word ‘Ponyboy’ caught my attention – deeply. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe what I was hearing. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of “The Outsiders,” the interviewer was interviewing none other than S. E. Hinton. I don’t even think it is necessary to say that I was floored. Despite probably being late for my meeting, I delayed my leaving the car, for I could feel the tears sting my eyes. Oh, how could this possibly be? How could this possibly be? And yet again… more as Joplin too began to surface….’take another little piece of my heart now, baby…’ my, what power in the breath. And ‘the stay.’