Monday, July 11, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - July 11

On Leaving my Hermitage

What business have I to be sitting around in Jim Wygal’s house in Anchorage, listening to records, trying to talk about something? I don’t belong in that anymore, still less in the place where I went with Fr. John Loftus and his friend the other night to hear some jazz. At least I have found out by experience that this just does not go. I am dead to it; it is finished long ago. You don’t drag a corpse down to Fourth Street and set it up in a chair, at a table, and in polite society.

This just made the reading of Chuang Tzu all the better and more meaningful. Here at the hermitage I am not dead, because this is my life, and I am awake, and breathing, and listening with all that I have got, and sinking to the root. There is no question that I am completely committed to interior solitude. Where—makes no difference. Not a question of “where.” Not “tampering with my heart,” or with the hearts of others. This is imperative. “The mind is a menace to wisdom.” To be one who “though walking on dry land, is as though he were at the bottom of a pool.

The trouble is this being a “writer,” and one of the most absurd things I have gotten into is this business of dialogues and retreats. This has to be faced. I can’t completely back out now, but certainly no more pushing.

If the days in solitude have taught me this, they are good enough.

July 4, 1960, IV.18

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