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The Open Window Between Us

Posted in Adventures With Humans

Open Window

In the Rumi poem, 'Night Air,’ three brothers, vying for the inheritance, answer questions posed by a judge to prove which one is the laziest. “Mystics are experts in laziness,” Rumi writes, “They rely on it because they continuously see God working all around them,” so it seems that the now-deceased father wanted his inheritance to go to, not just a layabout leaving potato chip bags on the sofa, the lid off of the toothpaste, but to one who was a mystic in this sense. The first two brothers try to convince the judge of their worthiness by explaining how they can “know a man” with the littlest possible effort. After they fumble their answers, the third brother responds, “I sit in front of him in silence, and set up a ladder made of patience,” and then if the brother is moved to speak, Rumi writes, “I know ‘him’ from what I say, and how I say it, because there’s a window open between us, mixing the night air of our beings.”  It has been rare, but I have experienced this. Call it a deep connection, something to do with the soul of another perhaps, but it is something that you never forget, and I am yearning for it right now.
This isn’t falling in love, but something even deeper, beyond the physical body. It’s a noticeably different connection, sacred to be sure. I’ve felt it during sessions when my therapist was wonderfully present with me on my journey, but outside of that crucible, maybe twice. I have a couple friends, one new, that I feel certainly an ease with and I am so grateful for that, but this deep connection I think, has happened with strangers I’ve met along the way. One was the first Assistant Director on a film shoot. Our conversation was short, but I still remember the energy of it to this day. My ears perked up when I heard John O'Donohue talk about it on a podcast I heard just before Covid. O’Donohue, the late Irish poet, priest, and author, said:
“When is the last time that you had a great conversation, a conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation a lot in this culture? But when you last had a great conversation, in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew, that you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you’d thought you had lost, and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you onto a different plane, and then, fourthly, a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards?” On Being, February 2008
There is something numinous at work here, as you both come to the conversation as your true selves, your deeper selves without any posturing, because you both sense that it’s not necessary. Neither of you assumes anything about the other. There is no judging, and it is as if the pure energy of your conversation completes a circuit that helps to power the world, as if the universe needed a thought to be worked through, to be spoken out loud.
There’s an elderly man I run into now and then as I’m walking to the gym. Every time we meet, we begin a nice conversation but then he always gives me advice. It used to be about Covid, but now it’s about my recovering from having a hip replacement in November of 2023. I think of getting out of earshot before he offers the advice, but I don’t want to be rude; he’s not a monster, but just feels the need to control things. Yesterday I felt myself becoming short with him. For me to behave poorly would only fuel my own frustration, so with a little thought, I have found a place of gratitude for him. I’m not putting on an act, but sincerely opening up gratitude as a way of healing the rift between me and the advice man. Perhaps our conversation could now go deeper and I might discover why he feels the need to control. What is it in his life that he is not happy with? Where has he lost control? When I think about this, I do find love for him, and frankly, I look forward to running into him again.
Yesterday, on my way back from the gym, there was a moment walking in the sun where I desperately wanted my father back. I could never really talk to him when he was alive, but now everything is different. It seems even in his absence, he’s one of the precious few people I can talk to, especially since my mushroom trip that I wrote about here. Maybe he’s the one nudging me towards finding gratitude as a way to acknowledge the advice man, or perhaps that’s just my own yearning to exist in that paradigm.
I’ve learned so much over the past decade, but now, with the ridiculous war in the middle east, and the political clown show in much of the world I feel like hailing a taxi to get the hell out. I’m much more present than I have ever been, but there’s a point where you need an ‘other,’ a refueling experience of a circuit completed. I need that open window.