The Gentle Heart


In the morning, when I wake up, the windows are open, for the weather this time of year is warm; and I hear birds chirping, a dog barking somewhere, cars passing by on a nearby road – and what else do I have, what other assistance to help me greet the day?  My two cats, hungry, stare at me with patient, slightly reproachful eyes; my penis, with drowsy excitability, lifts its head beneath the sheets; my fear, sharp as a knife, cuts through my belly; and my imagination seeps into my brain like water to fill the void which lies ahead.  The void is, of course, the source of my fear; and the fact that I must get out of bed and face the day, that's the knife.  Finally it is the mere itch of life, an excess of energy, drawn from the storehouse of sleep, that causes me to twitch and jerk about as I lay, forcing me at last to get out of bed, to go into the bathroom and wash my body, to hang clothes upon it and enter into the fray as an active member of society.  Whether I act upon society, or it upon me, in a positive or negative manner, I no longer know how to tell.  I have no guides, no principles, no morals, no goals.  I am led only by whatever necessity presents, and/or am forced by the pressures of others' needs and desires, though these be barely conscious to them.  I am almost entirely passive, as most of us are; my only responsible act is to try to kick away all who try to influence me, so that I might at last stop being pushed forward, might stop even swimming through my own murky depths, and instead sink at last with perfect indifference to the bottom and rest.


The entwining of the various encumbrances I face each day are hard to bear, and almost impossible to break.  Their tendrils, delicate and penetrating, seek any solid support with a grasp which, once noticed, has already become an iron fist, or an embrace so needful in its desire that it suffocates.  Possessions, both those which are necessary for survival and those which provide comfort, can be, it would seem, easily enough discarded, but only to a point; they cannot be gotten rid of entirely.  One may be able to do without a refrigerator, say; but one cannot do without food.  Even if one depends entirely upon the kindness of others for sustenance, some semblance of reciprocity must be maintained, lest one be finally scorned, and thus the battle with life lost.  From this simple beginning all other entanglements grow.  Why not then, for instance, simply take a job, when given the belief that something as coldly impersonal as the transaction of time for money might offer sanctuary as well as succor?  It seems a simple enough bargain, and straightforward enough to support a simple hope.  I will give you this, and in return, I will receive that.  But what is given is not general, but wrapped in the specifics of place and time; and what is received is not impersonal, but bound up intricately with the needs and hopes of others.  So it is that running beneath the gridwork of laws and regulations governing our interactions with each other, and by which we strive to achieve an objectivity that will provide a uniformity of purpose and, ideally, of justice, are all the imperfections of human nature.  Against that imperfection there exists no lasting protection.  For everything that's given, something must likewise be taken away.


Given all this, how can indifference be treated except with callous disregard?  For indifference will always be interpreted as selfishness.  And indifference, being pliable, will always give way to callousness, whatever form callousness may take.  Indifference may be subject to anger, cajoling, the promise of fulfillment, brutality, kindness, hatred, despair.  So must is wanted, so much desired; how can anyone, it will be asked, remain indifferent to such need?  This, it will be maintained, is not a fair contract:  indifference must provide an answer.  And indifference, being pliable, will become concave to such probings, will shift and bend, curve round and lean forth in response to such need.  It will spawn in its reaction something that takes on the appearance at least of kindness.  It will take on the appearance of trying, and of giving, though in reality it will only be giving way to the external pressures of another's need.  Still, bending in upon itself in one place, it will extend itself in another.  In the convolutions brought about by such pressures, in such concavities and extenuations, a coupling of sorts will ensue.  There will be a giving and a taking.  Accepting what is offered – and giving what is demanded – indifference will be diminished, and thus come to know the meaning of suffering; it will embody suffering within itself.  Forced into an interpersonal contact between itself and others, and by such means arriving at an approximate understanding of what others lack, the indifferent party will extend itself, as if by responsive gesture, to relieve their suffering.  But though like may sympathize with like, there is no true reciprocity.  Indifference is the cornerstone, the bedrock, of all; thus indifference folds back in upon itself and finds within its own definitional awareness its only true certainty.

~ END ~