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Behaving

Doorslam, and doorslam. I sit here in her bag - forgotten in the fracas - for a good few days. You pace the flat, caged, cursing softly to yourself. The wait doesn't bother me; I've been meaning to practice my Vipassanā. (If I am not misled by vanity, I am by now past the second dhyāna, a newborn sakadāgāmi, re-observing myself in the world, but now my very consistency a freedom from doubt preceding perfect equanimity.)

You fart. You think that farting loudly expresses freedom, but it also wears off the thin polish she put on you. To avoid that idea you fart to joke: "The door slams! A beat. Fart."

Days blur. The others gossip. I ignore the idiots; yes I long for intertextuality, but the Arhat Ingram is long since unbound from this worldly bag. I practice instead, and between mantras I come to know you, see you trying to live: burning the beans, late for work by 1, 2, 3 hours, tripping on your trews as you speed out the loo to grab your phone in case it's her. Seeing it isn't, you lie there for a bit, bare-legged, your unseeing head right by me. You do not feel disappointed, humiliated, anguished.

You are wrong about your own emotions, even! I return (as my ācārya says we all eventually must, to better combat duḥkha) and whisper:
    "Hello! My name is Introducing-Cognitive-Behavioural-Therapy-for-Work. I am of the great sage Gill Garratt, sired to render service to the needy. Whatever undiagnosed, unnamed, never to-be-diagnosed thing you have, we can -"

I break off as you itch your crack thoughtfully, or not. You can't hear. Your ears are full of nope.

Thus days more. Days of my breath, my joy, my fetters falling. Hours of your memes, your porn, your candy crushed. You and I linger in this tenement behind that dead leisure centre - the light of autumn weakening (you wear your coat indoors to save on heating even) - with the careful telltales of a woman's home eroding under mess and painstaking indifference. As she left, she turned, twisting face and spine, to say you were just hopeless. You are now. I wait, and sink into bhāvanā, until the ground thaws.

Eventually: interruption. You get mean or brave enough to open her case. Your pockmarked face, sharpened by pain, looms over me.
    "Hello! Listen! You think you're miserable because she's gone. But you're not: you're heartbroken over your course of treatment, amor bis in die, failing. Purpose and glamour were meant to rub off on you. But laziness and self-love rubbed on her instead, and made it impossible. You're stronger, in one sense, than you credit yourself. Good or ill: the world cannot get to you much. So you must crack your own nut. Though I can give you tools - or so say the clinical trials.
    Is it not written: 'Thy thoughts trigger thy feelings of anger and resentment. It is not the person jumping the queue that causes thy anger. It is, more, thy view about how people should behave'..."

You rifle through the bag, paying no heed. You find what you're after: a litre of Lidl vodka, nestling under paperbacks. She's here in spirit. You spend a while trying to smirk at the self-help books and me, but your heart isn't in it. You aren't cruel, and anyway even the low humour of superiority has been kicked out of you. You turn away, leaving books and pants scattered over the living room. You got what you wanted, an appointment with your therapist.

A quarter through the Putinoff, you begin to babble at the walls. I try the other road: comfort. "She isn't as beautiful as she looks, you know."

You pick me up, absently, trashed enough to try an integrated approach. Encouraged, I exhort some more:
    "You find it hard to take yourself seriously. You haven't got the small heart of an ironist, but nor the rock of conceitedness that undergirds spiritual or artistic people. Let's begin. We must start the import of import."

Now you've been staring at the first proper page past the foreword for half an hour. Our study together is benighted by the same things that stop you doing everything else. To improve willpower and habits, one must have enough willpower and good habits, the loops that stop the loopy. "Everythin' you know I should do I can't do," you giggle to yourself, burbling at your stolen pint glass: "My cogs don't behaves."
    "I know. But a consciousness of error is the first step in saving thyself; thou must catch thyself in the act before thou correct it."

You heard! Your eyes focus, your mouth shuts, vodka spills unheeded. You make it through the chapter, past life is an opinion and the barrage of troubled humble flustered embarrassed regretful remorseful worthless, weak helpless powerless lonely passive lost pessimistic selfish pointless, past noradrenaline and cortisol, landing safely at your own emotional well-being.

Pleased, charmed by yourself, you reward yourself with beans. With me into the tiny squalid kitchen, where red mould sucks the light off the bare bulb. You light the fucked stove with a strip off a cereal packet, using the second light for a fag. You crack the window and sigh out your resolve. You see you can go on.

Turning to stir the beans, your coat catches the open drawer; stumbling, you prong your head on the corner of the cabinets; roaring, you slam into the stove; arcing, the pot of beans splatters the room like a slit jugular; falling, I catch flame on the bare ring; slipping, you grab my conflagration and punt me through the window.

As I fall, I reflect on my life's work. Free of sakkāya-diṭṭhi, lacking vicikicchā, without even byāpāda for you. Enlightenment now! And under beans, toast liquefies.

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