I had this sudden memory this morning. I am sitting in the basement of my childhood home, and my only light is a full moon I can see through the small window at the top of the cement wall. I hear screaming. I am in the basement hiding because violence has again erupted in the house, my stepfather and mother are yelling, and things are being thrown across the room, and she is telling him to get off of her. I can feel my heart beating heavily in my chest. I am drawing a heart on a sketchpad in the moonlight to distract myself from my fear. But it isn’t a symbol heart like the colorful emojis we have today. It’s a detailed sketch of a human heart, that I am drawing with great precision with a ball point bic pen with black ink. Above the heart I draw the moon, and a fishing line from the moon with a hook on the end that has pierced through and captured the heart. And strands of black ink blood are dripping from the place where the moon’s hook has lodged into the aorta.
And just as suddenly, as I looked up to take in the morning light now spilling liberally onto the couch, cradling a cup of coffee under my chin, I remembered a poem I read in college that moved me called The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop, a grotesque and absurdist poem about fishing, that ends in an unexpected reverie as the poet finds beauty in an oil spill.
It is an art, I’ve decided, to love even the darkness. To see the darkness in all the beauty of who you are today. In Buddhism we’d call this equanimity, one of the Four Immeasurables. The radical love of things, just as they are.