14 Apr
Posted in: Books, Poems
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The Opposite of That

taking-it-personalIn Buddhist psychology, equanimity is understood to be one of the “universal, beautiful factors of mind,” which always arise together in every wholesome mind state…along with confidence, mindfulness, a sense of dignity, non-greed, non-hatred, and non-rigidity.

In Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening, Joseph Goldstein writes, “For most of us, there is a deep conditioning in the mind to try to hold on to what is pleasant and to push away or avoid what is unpleasant. But it is precisely this conditioning that powers the rollercoaster of hope and fear….When equanimity is developed, we ride these waves with balance and ease.”

Which is exactly the opposite of what Tony Hoagland writes about here (so beautifully…and yet so painfully):

by Tony Hoagland

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal–

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain–
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
belive in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I belive in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

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