P. 1
Con Gusano

Con Gusano


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Published by David Cole
A piece with a gestation longer than an elephant but glad to share now. No Spanish needed.
A piece with a gestation longer than an elephant but glad to share now. No Spanish needed.

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Published by: David Cole on May 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Con Gusano

My days are constructed in such a way that my attention is mostly drawn outward. I keep myself engaged in the tasks of the day—a part of me having absorbed the idea that to be unoccupied is self-indulgent. I have absorbed the attitude that leisure is the enemy of virtue and sense. Literary examples abound. The Romance of the Rose, a medieval French poem, personifies “Idleness,” as the source of temptation—an unoccupied moment in the garden leading to endless complication and grief. On the other hand, philosophers praise the act of solitary reflection. Socrates enjoined self-examination—a process that demands a certain amount of free time as well as an open mind. It seems that our inherited wisdom is divided, teaching that undirected thought can either reveal the truth of one’s own life or prompt chaos. Desire can fuel growth, or, as Dante implied, it can lead to the trap of a compulsion endlessly repeated. Sometimes my process of writing these meditations seems to lead to an endless loop. At other times it sets change in motion, enabling new possibilities. My own words clang like a rude bell. What is possible? I ask myself. What might I envision? What might I do? The fact is, between here and there lies fear—fear of the new, fear of rejection, fear of failure. I would like to dismiss such fears as nonsense, but it is not so easily done. I drag behind me a lifetime of hesitations, both inherited and of my own making. Though my victories outnumber my failures, I grieve over the knowledge that I have been for the most part cautious in what I have attempted, sizing up, analyzing, working through the obstacles mentally, optimizing my chance of success before I try something new. I like predictability, but predictability is, finally, suffocating. I have an itch that demands more, like the worm at the bottom of the mescal bottle—con gusano they say, “with the worm”—put there for flavoring, curious, a little threatening, and, yes, tempting. If one only tries what is safe, the results are predictable. Like a thread, these reflections provide a fragile connection between my outer and inner selves. I struggle to find something I can’t name and frequently find myself surprised by the shapeless consciousness of a need, a want, an impulse seeking expression, like the weight of the crowd in a subway car pushing me forward or back as the train slows and picks up speed. I’m reminded that the process of living is not as simple as it seems, requires effort, and not just one effort but constant repeated renewal. For a hundred reasons, the plans I made—years ago or yesterday—are irrelevant, and I am forced to find new ways of working and being.

I have wondered about the role of mastery in life—the effort involved in conceiving and realizing goals—and the place of mystery, the unknown, the unexpected. I have dedicated my days to mastery—mastering the skills of the world, making a living, maintaining relationships—while ignoring the mystery that presses in, pushing and shoving, loud, unruly, and unstoppable in its onward rush. It seems that I have imposed an order—or adapted the orderly progression of days—dressing up chaos to make it look like progress, to pretend it makes sense, to say, if I just work hard, work hard enough, if I just keep busy, it will be okay. Everything will be okay. Now I find the levee broken and the land flooded. Is the chaos within and the order without or vice versa? I cannot tell. I am afloat on my back like a raft a barn a cow overwhelmed by the river that takes me where it will. Better. Better this than safe in a well-tended garden. —from “The Meditations of David Esperanza” a work in progress by David Cole, Bay Tree Publishing, www.baytreepublish.com

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