Posted on 04/13/20 by in Stories from The Well
By: Manuel Iris
Stay inside, stay inside
and you will be safe.
I am not talking (exclusively) about the pandemic we now face, but about a very much needed inner retreat. About a way to find freedom within a quarantine. A way to wonder and explore within your skin, under your eyelids.
While we have the ethical obligation to stay home, we have the invitation to stay inside our silence to save ourselves, our minds, and souls.
Write, sing, draw, and if you can’t find the time or space to do it, then imagine, dream, and daydream: be with yourself in the present. Do whatever you need to do in order to be with your own voice, and then ask that voice (a voice that sounds like silence and music): what do you need from me? The answer will be a form of You. You need you. You need to share this quarantine with every person that you are, that you have been. These can be times of reconciliation.
However, reconciliations are not easy, and you may not like all the persons that you are or you have been. And you do not need to like them. You may not need to invite them all for dinner. But you can’t pretend they never existed.
Like any other truth, silence is not easy.
Silence is for the brave.
Turn off the screens for a minute, breathe, and look for another kind of light. If your house is never quiet, then pay attention: contemplate. Find the divine in the mundane. Try to see others in the way that transcendence sees them. Gaze at the eternal while you walk around your house again, while you look out your window again, while you talk to those in quarantine with you, while you look in the mirror.
At the end, despite the appearances, we are always in quarantine within our bodies.
I need to be honest: This blog entry is not a recipe to find inner peace. I do not believe in those. I am just sharing my way of coping with the current moments. I do not mean to lie: You will not be able to forget the fear of what is outside, but you will be able to see, also, the beauty that still exists.
When I can’t find God, I believe in beauty.
And if you can’t do it, if these times of uncertainty make it difficult to love, to see yourself with love, pray these verses from Derek Walcott to your heart, one time after another. Let the rhythm of the poem become a mantra. Forget the words, even, and hope. Just hope.
Love after love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I am a poet obsessed with beauty, death and the bridge that unites them: desire. I believe fervently that silence is the language of the cosmos and that every poem is an act of triple communication with ourselves, others, and transcendence. I believe in music, sister of poetry. I trust in individuals and distrust in humanity. I like drinking bourbon and I like to sing. I like to listen to music surrounded by friends, anywhere. I also like solitude and silence. I am a spiritual man who enjoys the privileges of the skin, of the ephemeral. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I teach literature. http://www.manueliris.com/