thoughts on a train

I was on the train, coming to school, and was reading the handouts for class, and reading people’s interpretations about poetry and such, and marveling at them and thinking to myself how in the world am I going to write anything like this.  In the course of reading these, a strange emotion came over me, a minor one, of wanting to go to pieces.  It is not a stranger to me and I commented to my therapist about it.  I told her that I am happy, smile, joke a lot… enjoy my day… but then a feeling will come out of the breeze where all I want to do is fall into million pieces and scatter to the winds.  The therapist and I have not come to any conclusion as to what this might mean yet.  Today on the train I closed my eyes, grabbed my prayer beads (where I will say an affirmation, or simply count my breaths) and I tried to recall the meditation techniques I used a lot while in Houston, where the intent was to watch the thoughts and feelings arise within one’s own consciousness and to not try to repel them, understand them, move them, alter them… but to simply let them be and let them move on.   So I closed my eyes and tried.  I was standing at the head of the train, having given my seat to a woman who boarded, and was facing everyone else, who seemed to watching.  They weren’t, but it feels that way at times, that the world is watching.  This could be, simply, the innate developmental factors of humans of being highly social animals and our brains always looking for social cues to shape our behavior.  I closed my eyes, clicked on a prayer bead, inhaled softly… exhaled softly… and clicked to another bead.  I then tried to understand this feeling that had come to me.  But this is no good for meditation that I’ve practiced, and worked, is in simply noting the prescence of… and not trying to understand.  I was, by trying to understand the feeling, stopping it from moving on, trying to alter it (for isn’t that the point of my trying to understand it… so that I can desist its appearance?).  I recall  now, but not at the time, the point raised in Jim Hillman’s lecture… or was it Jung’s writing (?)… that one ought not try to transcend life… but to deepen life. 

The feeling passed, I had no clues as to its meaning or source or direction.  I continued reading the pages.  After a few minutes, the memory of last night’s reading (the book “Regeneration” by Pat Barker, about WW1 veterans) came to me, particularly the part when Prior had undergone hypnosis from Rivers.  Prior describes, while in hypnosis, a traumatic experience that, for many people, if not all, would be quite horrible, wasteful, stupid, terrifying, and more.  At the end of the hypnosis he rails at Rivers and says “That’s it!”.    It is clear that he had expected a much worse experience to be buried in his heart and mind than what he turned out.  As I recalled this in my mind, emotions swept over me like those when I was a kid in the South.  You are playing outside one moment and then another moment it is dark and rainy and windy.  This feeling came over me and I felt tears in my eyes.  What?  Where?  How?  I wanted to let them come out and to watch, as ditracted as I could, where this was originating from and what it meant.  But as I was standing in front of the bus and had the eyes of everyone upon me, I could not abandon my control and so I reined in the feelings.  But what I could see lurking in the background was the same feelings that I can imagine Prior to be feeling.  This is as such….

How can I admit to having hardship and pain.  There are so much worse out there.  There are veterans of this war, of prior wars, of ancient wars, that have suffered far greater horrors than I have even come close to. 

How can I, as a man, as a soldier, allow myself to feel pain.  I am the protector.  I am the warrior.  I am the one who is called upon to go out into harm’s way where angels fear to tread. 

How can one who has not been through as much horror as others allow himself the unmanliness of feeling pain? (the two thoughts synthesized into one revolving door of death).


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