May 2019

It’s May 2019 and my wife of four years is dissolving our marriage, and I’m facing an immediate future of dislocation, laced with emotion, sadness, anxiety, and uncertainty. There is no drama, no anger. At least none expressed.

This isn’t a time in my life that I either anticipated or wanted to build something new. A new chapter is being thrust upon me, not by my will but by hers.

This drama in my little world leaves me cold to the drama in the greater world; yet it’s inescapable. The country’s a mess. The world is a mess. Maybe it’s always been, though Trump America is unlike anything I’ve lived through before, not Vietnam, not Watergate, the Clinton impeachment, the Bushes and their wars. Trump America is utterly dispiriting. I can’t listen to the news anymore. It makes me physically sick.

I wake up at 3:00am, my mind racing with too many thoughts. Why this, why me, is any of this worth it, is life worth it, who would care if I were gone, where will I live, how will I live. I don’t go back to sleep, then drug myself on caffeine as soon as I’m up to make it through another day.

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Life is suffering. This is undeniable. Whether a believer or not, all religions embrace this basic precept.  Life embraces it.  Everyone dies. We experience the pain of others’ deaths, of loss, of sickness, of heartbreak. It’s only a matter of time and scale.

To make someone else’s life better is the only salvation: to not inflict unhappiness on another person; to find goodness in a person despite their flaws; to honor one’s word, one’s commitments; to do what’s right, not what’s expedient; to not be a jerk. These are not easy.  I often fail.  But they are the only way out, the only way to make sense of the tragedy of the world, to not turn tragedy into a living hell.

If you resent someone, for something that person has done to you, it’s said that to be free of that resentment, pray for the person you resent. Pray for their happiness, their success. Buddhists say that prayer can be setting an intention. It’s not asking a sky-dwelling God for gifts from heaven.

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So I’m praying for my wife. May she find peace. May she find happiness. May she make someone else’s life better.

I’m setting that intention for myself.

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