The Matchbook Diaries


Momentous Living: the Art of Love and War

The war is always, always between my ego and my heart.  My heart is the bravest thing there is in this world.  It’s bigger than any nuclear bomb, bigger than any billion man army of hate.  My ego is the shit clinging to me.  I try to wipe off the stench of it, try to get its filth off of me.  The way to win that war is to give authority to my heart.

In frustration as I fight my human skin, flailing, one of my more common threats (all of which are impotent) is to decide for the future (muttering or screaming) something along the lines of – if this is still going on in….I’m going to….  I cannot make decisions after the fact, correcting the past, nor can I make decisions for later.  I can only make them now.  When I try to expand my sphere of control by tossing my power into the future or into the past I’m wasting my energy.

Most atrocities I commit are my response to pain I’m thinking of avoiding, or pain I anticipate.  Once again, I’m impotent.  I cannot go around pain, or chaos, or trouble.  I can only go through those things.  I don’t face any of them alone.  God is with me.  I insist, “I can’t handle….”  and God says, “Try.”  (What I’m really saying is that I won’t handle….) I can handle a hell of a lot, actually.  I don’t have to handle it tomorrow, I only have to handle it right now.  When I am glassy eyed in pain, when I am truly helpless, I’m no longer threatening.  I’m not waving my fists any more.  When I collapse, God carries me.  I don’t care at that point.  It happens often to me, and only afterwards am I aware that God was present with me.

Similarly, if I am angry at someone, which, being proud, self-righteous me, is pretty much all the time, I hear my own thoughts go through the same trajectory…  next time I see her, this is how I will look at her  – or – next time I see him I’m going to say….  Impotence.  I am scripting, trying to act in the future.  The proper response, if I encounter someone who has hurt me, or someone who embarrasses me, is to be exactly who I am in that instant, which, normally, is frightened, embarrassed, or ashamed.  But I anticipate those unpleasant, helpless responses, and my vanity then begs me to create a phony reply that I can force myself to use as my go-to when/if that chance meeting occurs.  Impotence.  (The vast majority of what I angrily or fearfully anticipate never occurs anyway.)

The power is not in the indifference, mockery, or rage I feign.  The power is not in deciding, hahahahahahaha, ONCE and for ALL TIME.  The power is in choosing to live in my own skin, where I am fragile, where it hurts, where I am often exposed. God is only with me now, only when I am being me, rather than when I am lying.  My goal, when I premeditate a lie or a threat, is to not be me.  But there is no reality there, nothing solid, no benefit, and of course, in those moments, if I elect to gratify my ego and either use a scripted response or hurl aggressive future threats, God is not there, because I am in hell, where God is not.  Then I am truly vulnerable, truly in danger because I have chosen to act without God.

What do I really want?  I really want my husband to be in love with me.  I really want my son to be honourable, brave, and happy.  I really want peace in my own heart.  I really want those things. I’m willing to die for those.  Those are the things that God gives me.  But not if I skip the moment.  Where is God?  Here, in my heart, right now.  When I sit still the agony is never, ever more than I can bear.  And when I hit the tipping point, shocky and weird and otherworldly in my pain, my self image is not on my heart at all.  Do I care about my image?  Not at all.  Is it a treasure?  It’s worthless, less than nothing, it’s a hindrance, a prison.

I’m SUCH an ass.  I falsely imagine that my will is a lasso I can hurl outward, back into the past, forward into tomorrow.  I’m weak so I want control.  I know helplessness to the very depth of myself.  I know what it means to be begging for mercy at the hands of a violent mother whose only intention is to force me to submit to rape again.   No one rescued me during those 10 years.  But God was there.  I don’t like feeling helpless.  But when I chuck my will into the future because of what happened to me in the past, I am doing nothing effective – I am not healing the past and I am most certainly not effecting the future.  There is ONLY power right now.  The most effective way to deal with anyone or anything that hurts or frightens me is to show up now, now where God is.  Because God lives in me, so I’m attached to something immutable, omnipotent, true and Real.  Then my presence has authority, my words have weight, my actions are true.

There are many stories about the Ark of the Covenant, about some material object that actually contains the presence of God.  Look in the mirror.  That’s the Ark, FFS.  Do I aim to access limitless power, power to tread on snakes, to tame lions?  Then I can access that Ark of God’s covenant with me only by staying within it.  You carry God.  I carry God.  God has made God’s home in my heart and in yours.  If I am traveling my life with that presence in me I have nothing to fear, nothing to hide, and nothing to lose.  Period.  Full stop.

The past is hard and cannot be changed.  My mother made choices and her choices hurt me.  The future is nothing at all, nothing at all.  There is only right now.  If it’s power I want, if it’s love, truth, intimacy, beauty, and connection I value, then by God I’m going to show the fuck up, now, in my human skin with all of its imperfection and weakness because God is with me.  I am God’s child.  You are God’s child.  The fine art of love is the only way to wage war.  Choose to inhabit your heart when you want to scurry into a lie, choose instead to be real, to be you.  Victory, potency.

HEADSTRONG by 10,000 Maniacs (This idea crystalized for me when I heard this song by 10,000 Maniacs, who are fucking awesome.)

To your common sense firm arguments
I will not listen to your voice of reason trying to change my mind.
I mind my feelings and not your words.
Didn’t you notice I’m so headstrong even when I know I’m wrong?
Take this to your heart and into your head now:
before you waste your time, call a truce and call a draw
What’s the use in mapping your views out in orderly form
when it does nothing but confuse and anger me more?
I mind my feelings and not your words.
Didn’t you notice I’m so headstrong.
You’re talking to a deaf stone wall.
Take this to your heart and into your head now:
the old wives’ tale is true, I’ll repeat it.
All is fair in love and war, that’s how the famous saying goes
Open up your eyes, see me for what I am:
cast in iron, I won’t break and I won’t bend.
Take this to your heart and into your head now:
the old wives’ tale is true, I’ll repeat it.
All is fair in love and war, that’s how the famous saying goes.
If I told you we were out to sea in a bottomless boat,
you’d try anything to save us, you’d try anything to keep us afloat.
And if we were living in a house afire,
I do not believe that you could rush out and escape it and not rescue me.
Take this to your heart and into your head now:
the old wives’ tale is true, I’ll repeat it.
All is fair in love and war, that’s how the famous saying goes.
Listen, I think they were talking to you.