Wednesday 19 September

A sunny day
70 degrees

Sitting outside together
We discuss the future—

Prospects, possibilities,
The quixotic quest for balance in this topsy-turvy world

You ask me if I am happy
And it arises in me

That you and I—compared to much of the world—
Are in paradise

We walk to the café—
No crutches, our limbs intact

We behold each other—
No blindness, our eyes full

We talk amid the calm
No backdrop of violence, we are at ease

It’s an ordinary moment
Nothing special

Such that we can take these moments for granted
One after the other

So that much of the time
We don’t even savor such moments

And I couldn’t say I was happy
If I was missing out on those moments

In The Brothers Karamazov
Seventeen-year-old Markel says to his mother as he nears death:

“Mama, do not weep,
Life is paradise,

And we are all in paradise,
But we do not want to know it,

And if we did want to know it,
Tomorrow there would be paradise the world over”

We both may laugh at the thought
That paradise is all around us and shimmering

As we sit outside at Kaldi’s
At Maryville University

“That’s paradise?”
Yep, that’s what the young Russian sage says

But he also says to his mother
“Each of us is guilty

In everything before everyone,
And I most of all”

You want an existential challenge
Of the highest order?

Great—then hold together
Our access to paradise

And our guilt in everything before everyone
And I most of all

The point is to recognize paradise
The point is to be responsible

The point is to remember the non-paradises
We as Americans are responsible for

Name a country
Say, Iran, where you have family

You know the history of the U.S. support
For the shah’s torture regime

You know that the U.S. has created zones
Of anti-paradises, those infernos across the planet

I think the heart of The Book of Mev
The heart of Mev—

Is the juxtaposition of those two chapters
On sitting

George Steiner asking, given the infernos,
“How can we sit still?”

Thich Nhat Hanh affirming,
“Don’t just do something,

Sit there and be aware
Of the miracle of this moment”

Sitting still
Not sitting still



Ojos así
Sufrimiento tan grande

So, Layla, this aspiration:
May we hold it all

Layla September 2012
Dr. Layla Lavasani; September 2012


1 Comment

  1. Yes we are in a paradise of sorts
    and then there are the infernos of the mind and heart
    and paradises of the same.

    Then there is the lie of Shame and the lie of Shamelessness…two heads of the same coin…and we are neither.

    We are human
    we fuck up royally and then we are amazingly loving
    sometimes all in one breathe.

    sometimes we recognize paradise
    and sometimes we can’t or won’t…
    And then there are those times we sit in our own shit
    not even able to detect the sent.

    happiness I don’t think is something that measures well
    it eludes all ways we have to measure…
    It’s almost we can more accurately recognize our discontent
    than what it is we are content with.

    you give my mind a workout
    thank you for stirring the pat.


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