April 24, 2006
Loss is built into the very idea of posession...
We learn to keep a loose enough hold on what we have that we won’t be destroyed when we lose it. Norman Fischer
After surviving the Tsunami in South East Asia in December 2005, I became inspired to start a web site: Intrepidflame. It was my goal to build an organic, interactive medium to forge an arena dedicated to individual/communal growth and peace. This did not happen. I built a community of one, and in the process, I became entrenched in a constant effort to be heard, although, I was rarely saying anything of much worth. A year later, I am extinguishing the flame. Not so much because I feel that I failed, but because I need to be free of the weight it has added to my life. At that time, I also vowed to write a haiku everyday for a year, and when that year came and went, I continued on my quest to scribe each day with a poem, and that too is coming to an end. Here is why:
One of the basic tenets of Zen Buddhism, as I understand it, is the unburdening of the self from attachments. Let me explain. Desire is a basic human experience, and when we become attached to our desires- we suffer. The goal then is too lighten our need to be constantly attached to our desires. One very powerful desire is to bring permanence to a world that is by nature impermanent, and so we suffer when faced with loss at any level, whether it be death or, on a lesser degree, the loss of say a website. When I started, I put so much time and effort into building the site that I often wondered how I would react if I should lose every file on it. I was terrified. But I have been thinking about it more and more recently, and the thought of Intrepid Flame no longer existing is not only not frightening, but I feel the need to unburden myself from its grip.
The Tibet monks often spend months or a year crafting intricate, beautiful sand paintings, called Mandalas, only to sweep them way after they are completed to show that they are not attached to their work, because in the end, nothing in the world is permanent. Intrepdiflame and my haikus have been my sand painting. It is time to sweep them away. They have served their purpose. This site has been great for my personal growth. It has taught me to focus and work hard and try to connect with the world in a more proactive way, and I hope it has touched others out there who spent time reading and exploring its pages. But in the process, it has forced me to monitor my life too closely. The relevance of my life has become interdependent on whether or not people are reading my poems, or my review of the latest movie I saw. I list every movie I see, every book I read, and write my opinions on theses things and wait to see who will respond to what I am doing. And when the responses do not come, it causes me anxiety. It felt, toward the end that I was being controlled by what I would write about my life experience more than the experiences themselves.
I contemplated saving the haikus or the site files themselves for later use, because I am so terrified of sweeping them away, but complete erasure is the very nature of this exercise. I feel that the very act of writing these poems was what was important, not the words themselves or the reactions they did or did not receive. I guess the very nature of writing is to leave a piece of the writer in the world. The very act of writing is trying to make permanent things that are the most impermanent– our thoughts. This is a dilemma I am sure many writers feel, but the constant need of reassurance from my audience was too much in the end. I was writing to be read, not for the act of writing. I think that sometimes words need time to mature and grow in solitude, and this site robbed them of this time.
So, as I start to understand and not be frighten by the fact that all things in life are transitory, I have deleted all #469 haikus and every page of intrepidflame. I hope you had a chance to enjoy them, if not, maybe I will write five hundred more someday soon. I would be lying if I said it was without trepidation, but I can honestly say that I deleted without fear. I was just as excited to erase everything I created in the last year, as when I created it. I will continue to run my blog, because I still find it a helpful and useful tool to try and improve my writing, and I will embark on new projects and adventures in the not too distance future. Stay tuned!