Wednesday, November 11, 2009

walking the lobster

my interest in buddhism, while always present, waxes and wanes. that interest is presently waxing. i am an atheist, but like thom gunn who described himself as an atheist who admits to the supernatural. or the natural-natural. at any rate, when i read buddhist texts about presence and no ambition [of course i'm simplifying the 'no ambition' portion here. if i wasn't so lazy right now i'd get up from my chair and look up the poems of basho, buson and issa as i think they all wrote about having no talent and no ambition. and i think they weren't making those claims as a literary conceit but really believed their claims.] i am thrust in to the delight of being.

and that for me is why i love poetry so. the good stuff makes me want to be alive and for no other purpose than being alive and awake is itself the ultimate pleasure. with that pleasure comes an almost limitless set of responsibilities. what might those be? one must discover his/her own definitions. for me part of to live responsibly entails an ethos toward loving-kindness, an essential goodness. but i'm still trying to define those terms too.

quickly i'm out of my depth. there are no careers, i think, but jobs we do for a living. poetry is not one of those jobs. poetry is a choice on how we live and engage our varied realities. as poet robert vander molen cautioned young writers recently, 'there's no money in it'. however, for me, one of those essential goodnesses i mention is simply to read/write. these are how i engage and cope with being. when i read a fabulous text i am, at least for a moment, radiating light.

oh shit, does that sound hippie-ish, or what? no matter. poetry, for the serious, is a way of living. i've said all this before. these thoughts come as a result of reading this post by u.k. poet alan baker, who reminds us, or me, that poetry is not a career. it is what we do because we can't help it, out of love.

now, if you'll excuse me. i have the day off and it's time to go walk my lobster.


At 2:04 AM, Blogger John B-R said...

Of course Buson etc worked their asses off to achieve a state of unambition. I know how hard Alan works. As for you: you can't walk a lobster til you've trained it, and I'm guessing yours is very well-trained.

Personally I have ambitions: to be worthy of friendship with the likes of you, the likes of Alan. And to write stuff that is equal to that friendship.

word verification: incentip

At 9:46 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

john, yes, those are worthy ambitions. and i share them too.

my lobster on the other hand is a malcontent and wants more and more. i say patience and can't we all be little fonzies, just be cool. walking him takes a huge amount of equilibrium and an inner harmony that i'm often short of. discpline, luck and maybe a little talent should help. but then again, if he doesn't want to walk, well i'm simply gonna have to drag him along.


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