Wednesday, March 7, 2012
A Year With Thomas Merton - March 6
The Real in Front of My Nose
The solitary life reduces itself to a simple need--to make the choices that constantly imply preference for solitude fully understood (better: "properly" understood in relation to one's capacity at the moment). I find myself confronted with these choices repeatedly. They present themselves in their own way, and what they add up to these days is the question of emotional dependence on other people, simply, collectively--the community, friends, readers, other poets, etc. Over and over again I have to make small decisions here and there, in regard to one or other. Distractions and obsessions are resolved in this way. What the resolution amounts to, in the end: letting go of the imaginary and the absent and returning to the present, the real, what is in front on my nose. Each time I do this I am more present, more alone, more detached, more clear, better able to pray. Failure to do it means confusions, weakness, hesitation, fear--and all the way through to anguish and nightmares. It is not purely up to me to "succeed" each time. I cannot calculate the force of unidentified emotion that will well out of my unconscious. There are days of obscurity, frustrations, and crises when nothing is straight. However, I know my aim and I try at least to meditate.
So, when it comes to "preparing for death": in my case it means simply this reiterated decision for solitude as the reality called for me by God, as my penance and my cleansing, as my paying off debts, as my return to my right mind, and as my place of worship and prayer.
March 8, 1966, VI. 26