Thursday, December 29, 2005


I woke up in the middle of the night last night to go to the bathroom.
Looking out the window, I saw the face of suffering and loneliness:
A single light shining in the house of a neighbor whose husband died two weeks ago.


anu said...

Sometimes the fewer words we say,
the more we convey.

And sometimes we dont need to say anything at all right Michael?

Michael said...

Indeed, Anu.
I'm glad you're feeling better!

mrsbeach said...

I was a beach and moaner on my blog this afternoon.
After reading yours,I am ashamed of myself.
I wish I could put my arms around this woman and just hold her.

Michael said...

Hey Beachy,

I know I'm gonna sound like a wise-ass, but you have just as much right to complain as she has to grieve. Everything is relative.
I don't know this woman at all, and I knew her husband only to wave to him and exchange an occasional greeting, but there was something about that pitch-dark house in the pitch-dark of night and that single bulb burning that really got to me.
I was half-awake, but I kept saying to myself, "Remember this, remember this."

With love,

Lone Wolf said...

I don't really know what to say about this amazing post. It touched my heart. Thanks Michael. As your other poems, I have been enjoying your recent ones.

Michael said...

Hi Lone Wolf!

As always, it's very nice to hear from you! Thanks for your compliments. I really appreciate the time you take to read my stuff.

reallynotimportant said...

Reality is a good title for this post. The woman coudn't sleep because so she switched the light on. That is her reality. It is unpleasant

If she had been practicing Buddhism as well then she would have experienced it all much more intensely and unabridged.

Maybe my perspective is different to most, but I get the distinct impression that most Buddhists believe that experiencing reality unfiltered is always a good thing. Maybe it is, but then the unpleasant stuff will be more intense, as will the pleasant stuff.

I've wandered a little bit, but I'll suggest something along these lines.

Michael, if you are moved enough to blog on another's suffering are you moved enough to find some small way to help alleviate it? Compassion is action, voyeurism is observation alone/ Sometimes no-action is right-action.

[I'm not sure if this reads correctly emotionally. My objective is to encourage contemplation and compassion - as much for the other readers as anything]

Beth said...

that really was a compassionate, amazing, and sad post. your few words said it all, and then some.

Michael said...

Hello Kim,
Thanks for your comments!

Hello RNI,
I understand what you're saying. Yes, I like easing the suffering of others through compassionate action whenever I can. It makes me physically and emotionally uncomfortable to see distress in others. I would like to probe those feelings to find out exactly what is behind them, what deeply rooted memory, say, in my distant past elicits this reaction.
That said, I must add that in my opinion, as long as someone else is comforted, then motive becomes unimportant, unless it's for something completely selfish and insincere as material gain. If the compassion is sincere, then I would say that whatever subconscious motive is at play is unimportant, at least from the standpoint of the person being (hopefully) helped.
I've found through my own experiences that, as you so correctly point out, sometimes the best action is no action. And sometimes, being in physical proximity to a person is more than enough. Just the feeling of another warm body nearby brings a comfort of its own that words merely confound.
If a person expresses compassion that has its roots in insincerity, he is only fooling himself. I don't think it necessarily negates any good that is done.
Whew, that was pretty long-winded. Sorry...

Beth said...

michael: that is so interesting-- it seems that reallynotimportant and i had been simultaneously commenting on the compassion aspect of your post. i was unaware of his comment as i was writing mine. and as i read the two juxtaposed, i am thinking THIS is so cool. two entirely valid (i believe) interpretations of the same thing. two aspects of compassion that are so different as to appear to be opposite. the one gained through the zen-like experience of unfiltered reality, and the one that takes action. interesting. now, i'm done on the computer. just a little reading while having lunch.

reallynotimportant said...

" It makes me physically and emotionally uncomfortable to see distress in others. I...."

That is called empathy. Mostly it is a good thing. [I think women do this naturally!!!]

Sometimes seeing suffering in another can make us aware of our own suffering even if it is denied or not expressed and we can then use another's suffering to express our own without the attachment. Sometimes, we just feel the suffering of another and wish that it was not necessary or could be decreased. Sometimes we like to have reasons for everything we think and feel when there may be none.

Kimberley: I think you are correct

LBseahag said...


and that single light was shining for you, for noticing....