Sunday, November 1, 2009


It was the flimsiest of excuses but it did the job as well as any finely honed paring knife. It cut away the last gasp of hope, peeling the flesh and tissue of anticipation away from the bone, exposing it raw, white, clean, and grotesque in its isolation from the supportive tissue. It wedged itself, sharp and choking into the narrow part of my throat as I sat by the side of the road in the waning light of the cool October evening.

“It’s her kids. They don’t want her to do it.”

I felt the anger billowing past the obstruction in my throat.

“It’s going to cost her money to pull out of the deal.”

But he was gone. For the fourth or fifth time I was talking into the empty space of the universe through the small black plastic microphone in my hand. I flipped it shut in disgust. The tears gathered somewhere in the pit of my stomach witnessing this parody of errors.

I had known all along that he wasn’t really suitable, that somehow this whole thing would just fall apart, that the dream I had nurtured and whispered into being was just that; a dream in locomotion, flitting through the ether to land for a brief moment on a piece of paper, looking real - and then to waft away as if this cursory visit into the second dimension was just not something it cared for.

I could see it dancing on the ebbing waves of joyfulness out through the windshield into the light beam of the oncoming car without so much as a backward glance leaving me without words, without hope, without joy, feeling manifestly unloved.

I contemplated the usefulness of violence. My pacifist heart was wrenched open and I felt the solace of small savageries seep into my anger, saturating it into heavy expectancy. Like honey dripping from a fresh comb ripped from a hive, small, heavy drops of venom slipped down through the cracks in my non-violent philosophy. They slid around the pouches and folds of decades of peace protests and humanist causes coating them with the sweet talk of force. They gathered and pooled in the blackest and farthest outreaches of my being feeding into life the small dark, hairy, scratchy things that hibernate there.

These tiny things, red-eyed and brittle, long clawed and curved back, fanged and fickle, envious, fearful, ignorant, and contemptuous wait for these moments - the moments when pain becomes violence, and violence becomes force, and force becomes greed, and greed consumes everything in sight. In these moments wars begin, not with a shot, or an order that begins an invasion, or an explosion that tears apart thousands of lives. Wars begin when pain finds a friend in anger, a conspirator in ignorance, and nourishment in the fresh blood of others.

I want to believe that, like the Mahatma, there are causes for which I would die and none for which I would kill. But I know that’s a lie. I know that backed into a corner with my children’s lives on the line, I would kill. And I know there have been many moments when pain has found that companion in anger leaving me murderous and full of the blood lust of those small, hairy things lurking in dark places.

What recourse is there for these moments? What rescues me from this seductive, sickly, sweet venom? Tears, tears from the bowels of hurt and anger, screams from the gut, from the place where we were joined to our mothers, and ultimately the solace of others, the admission of defeat and the confession of an encounter with violence.

Would that wars were so easily avoided.