Sometimes, through the “serendiptious” high-tech algorithms of capitalism that map my every low-tech rhythm of life, wise words pass across my FB newsfeed that actually speak to me — versus trying to buy, sell, damage, or destroy me. This blustery evening in San Francisco, Pablo Neruda’s “raw, unapologetic passion,” as the author who shared his “poetic magic” noted, perfectly met me.
That same author, Andrea Balt, citing Neruda, asserted that he had a “lifetime affair with words,” so that alone elicits a kindred feeling in me. But Neruda also, if words are traces of life beyond death, wasn’t afraid to love and lose, and love and lose, time and again. Maybe we can only truly understand and keenly feel loss if we aren’t afraid of loving, because that means we have something precious to lose — and then something to find again. And again.
There is so much that gets lost these days, especially here in the Bay Area. One can point to all the structural thieves, which steal land and homes, lives and memories. Yet those structures, in turn, warp too many people’s ability to be kind — as if kindness is something one loses by offering a bit of it “for free” to others — much less, far more deeply, many people’s ability to be empathetic toward others, including those they don’t know, and then extend care and intimacy, solidarity and love, especially to those they do know. All that might take making oneself vulnerable, and as such, fully open to loss. To losing.
It is, undeniably, impossibly excruciating to love and lose, and love and lose, time and again. I am weary of it, beyond anything sleep can remedy. For loss becomes cumulative, educing all past loses, as if bits of string saved and wound one on top of the other into a hard ball that one carries around.
At the same time, there is a power in vulnerability: one dares to follow one’s head and heart, with neither guarantees, maps, or falsehoods; one risks everything to be fully aware of self and life, and hence sets out toward utopic yearnings, toward desire, battling ever-present heavy winds.
One’s house, in metaphoric terms, flings open its doors, fearing not the storms, awaiting what and who walks toward and through them, at risk of emptiness and/or exile, love and/or home:
“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.”
— Pablo Neruda
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(Photo by Cindy Milstein, unintentional street art in SF’s Mission, where home for many is hard to hang on to these days, February 2015. For Andrea Balt’s piece, see http://www.rebellesociety.com/2012/09/30/poetry-lounge-i-love-you-in-secret-between-the-shadow-and-the-soul/.)