I’m on the other side of the canyon but it’s the same earth we’re standing on

Dear Mike,

You are more poetic than you  give yourself credit for. Reading your words is both intimidating and inviting. How do you do it? When I write I feel like I spill myself down a well and hope I land in water.

The people we construct. The scripts we write in our heads. You condemn them to unreality. But what is its opposite? Isn’t this just as real as a walk in a field? I go back to the image so often of walking with you because I feel as though that’s what we’re doing, taking a walk. Do you think conversations are like this? I think prayer is like this, too.

And when I mean prayer I mean everything. An act of anything and everything. Like you said, the beginning of genuflection.

When I was little, I used to talk often with my grandmother. I barely remember but then again I remember quite well, though we are taught to distrust this kind of remembering. I say that because she was (is) dead.

I’d have dreams of her as well. I remember following her down a stairway. I don’t know why this dream sticks out the most. I guess because it was so vivid. Nothing else to the dream but the never ending stairwell, like our conversations.

So I never knew her in life and yet I had (have) a very real history with her.

I like that you were willing to admit the element of surprise in your August 1, 2011 walk with your mother. In Chicago. In the past-present. You are willing to admit that it somehow changed from other “scripted” conversations. And though, as before, I’d argue that the scripted is still “real” this particular time does seem set-apart.

There are holes in our environments. Our consciousness. I think prayer or meditation are doorways into those holes which are otherwise often closed off to our daily lives. What most people don’t understand is that there exists a time that is not our known-image of time. It is negative-time. It is what so many physicists try to peer into. And mystics dance within or at least try to court.

You and I, no, we cannot see the same tree or hear the same sentences or even know the same “I” and yet, how often has someone else showed you a “more real” version of yourself? And maybe version is the wrong word, maybe skin is a better word.

Each day we put it on, each night we take it off. A skin or many that we shed and try on and reapply.

But is one more real than the other?

And when someone, or some event or memory or action blasts open a different perspective, how can we judge the validity or trueness or value of it as opposed to the former, or other perspective?

So in a way, the fact that we are shouting across canyons at each other is the same exact reason we are not separated at all. But one body in a time stacked on top of itself.

Your mother at 30-something can offer coffee to her 60-something son and not just on August 1, 2011 but at any moment.

Consciousness and the brain is both our box and our wing. Oliver Sacks writes about this. And the disorders that unlock certain secrets and unknown territories when it comes to perception and time. But how can we KNOW unless we experience it?

It sounds like you have, at least once, experienced time collapse in on itself. You didn’t even notice the passage of time while going back, and standing still, and moving.

Right now, I’m closing my eyes and doing this thing where I can feel a sort of radiation of energy pulse out the top of my head and chest. I try to concentrate that energy in a certain direction. I write about this in poems, or essays, in my first book although I didn’t realize that that’s what I was doing. But I speak as though I can  direct that energy to someone or some future someone who will feel it in their present. Whether that present is the actual present, or the past or future. What we think of as past or future.

Right now I am hoping you feel or think something out of character because in fact it is my character knocking on your door and moving your plants aside in order to somehow appear in your heart which is covered in plants of your own growing and thought.

I get stuck on this plant theme with you but I trust maybe there’s a reason. Is there a reason?

I wear my father’s shirt to sleep in. No one knows this. And it wasn’t a conscious decision. I didn’t even realize this until tonight, while brushing my teeth. I remember I took it from his drawer back in 1999, simply because I didn’t have a shirt to sleep in when I went over to his house one weekend. Or so I thought. Unconsciously, I think I was trying to find a way to be closer to him. And maybe that’s odd. It is a blue shirt with a pocket in the front. His eyes are blue and so are mine. I was 14 and now I’m 27. The child-me would never admit wanting a relationship I never had. The 27 me is just now comfortable understanding the not-understand-albe.

While living in New York I kept having a series of dreams where I was trying to make it to an important poetry reading (where I was to read) and it was a big deal and I was excited but there was too much snow on the ground and I was driving in Brooklyn and the snow kept me spinning. I get out of the car and run in the snow which is like quicksand which is like those dreams or nightmares that you’re trying to0 hard and not getting anywhere, sweating, or naked in public. That kind of feeling. Futile. Frustrating. The dream always ended the same. My computer breaks and I lose all of my life’s work. It is snowing in Brooklyn and my car is abandoned in the piles of white. There is a large warehouse building where many people wait for my arrival. It moves away in the distance. Never reachable. I carry the broken computer in my hands and there is my father in the middle of the street. I collapse in his arms and weep.

Now I am living back in Texas and I see my father every once in a while. I am no longer the self that is angry or hurt by him. I am the self that is trying to put the pieces back together. Mostly for myself but also for the self that was angry and hurt. He is different and I am different. And I sleep, still, in his shirt.

But they all still exists, don’t you see? The 30 something father and the child-me. The child-father and the present-me. And I’m trying to get them all to agree on one thing. It all spins and twirls and turns red and flows with blood and then blossoms and dies and grows again in a field somewhere in consciousness.

That’s what I think prayer does. In it’s own way, it collapses time so we can open, re-open, heal, break apart.

And you’re there, too. And though I wrote this and it means something different to me than it does to you, we still meet the same feelings at different times in the same caves. I’m on the other side of the canyon, but it’s the same earth we’re standing on.

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