“It takes all the time and all the energy we have to conquer the idiocy in us.”
Carlos Castaneda

The Second Ring of Power

Will You Miss Me?

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This is my second morning waking up to a new day in a house without Andreea. Andreea has gone to Romania for 11 weeks to promote her work and hopefully bring us closer home. She asked me numerous times if I’ll miss her when she’s gone.On the day she left I recalled something I read by Robert Pirsig, and it moved in me the entire day. This morning I looked it up. It is in the afterword of the 25th edition copy I have of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“This book has a lot to say about ancient Greek perspectives and their meaning but there is one perspective it misses. That is their view of time. They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes.

The receding Ancient Greeks perspective of the past ten years has a very dark side: Chris [Pirsig’s son] is dead.

I tend to become taken with philosophic questions, going over them and over them and over them again in loops that go round and round and round until they either produce an answer or become so repetitively locked on they become psychiatrically dangerous, and now the question became obsessive: “Where did he go?”

Where did Chris go?… Did he go up the stack at the crematorium? Was he in the little box of bones they handed back? Was he strumming a harp of gold on some overhead cloud? None of these answers made any sense.

It had to be asked: What was it I was so attached to? Is its just something in the imagination? When you have done time in a mental hospital, that is never a trivial question. If he wasn’t just imaginary, then where did he go? Do real things just disappear like that? If they do, then the conservation laws of physics are in trouble. But what if we stay with the laws of physics, then the Chris that disappeared was unreal. Round and round and round…

The loops eventually stopped at the realization that before it could be asked “Where did he go?” it must be asked “What is the ‘he’ that is gone?”. There is an old cultural habit of thinking of people as primarily something material, as flesh and blood. As long as this idea held, there was no solution. The oxides of Chris’s flesh and blood did, of course, go up the stack at the crematorium. But they weren’t Chris.

What had to be seen was that the Chris I missed so badly was not an object but a pattern, and that although the pattern included the flesh and blood of Chris, that was not all there was to it. The pattern was larger than Chris and myself, and related us in ways that neither of us understood completely and neither of is was in complete control of.

Now Chris’s body, which was a part of that larger pattern, was gone. But the larger pattern remained. A huge hole had been torn out of the center of it, and that was what caused all the heart-ache. The pattern was looking for something to attach to and couldn’t find anything… The pattern is trying to hang on to it’s own existence by finding some new material thing to center itself upon.

Some time later it became clearer that these thoughts were something very close to statements found in many “primitive” cultures. If you take that part of the pattern that is not the flesh and bones of Chris and call it the “spirit” of Chris or the “ghost” of Chris, then you can say without further translation that the spirit or ghost of Chris is looking for a new body to enter. When we hear accounts of “primitives” talking this way, we dismiss them as superstition because we interpret ghost or spirit as some sort of material ectoplasm, when in fact they may not mean any such thing at all.

In any event, it was not many months later that my wife conceived, unexpectedly. After careful discussion we decided it was not something that should continue… So we came to our conclusion and made the necessary medical appointment.

Then something very strange happened. I’ll never forget it. As we went over the whole decision in details one last time, there was a kind of disassociation, as though my wife started to recede while we sat there talking… You think  you’re together and then suddenly you see that you’re not together anymore.

… It was a really frightening thing, which has since become clearer. It was the larger pattern of Chris, making itself known at last. We reversed our decision, and now realize what a catastrophe it would have been for us if we hadn’t.

… This time he’s a little girl names Nell and our life is back in perspective again. The hole in the pattern is being mended. A thousand memories of Chris will always be at hand, of course, but not a destructive clinging to some material entity that can never be here again.”

  • Andreea and I have described this recent period of our life as a process of dying, where old patterns are making way for new ones
  • I sense that we are, as individuals, in many ways already dead… yet there are powerful patterns of living still awake and moving within us
  • I miss having a life where those patterns can attach to real & material people & objects, and I know Andreea misses it even more then I do
  • There is fear in me that those patterns may not find things to attach themselves to again
  • I now realize that as a couple,together, we are alive and vibrant and reaching out
  • Andreea’s visit to Romania is an effort to make new connections which we intend to expand and follow to a new home
  • I’ll probably miss, at some point, Andreea’s physical presence and nearness.
  • I am looking forward to life that will bloom from Andreea’s visit, and I expect those hopes will outshine any short term pains I may experience from not having her near me.
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