Wednesday, January 04, 2012


"You'll find, my friend, that what you love will take you places you never dreamed you would go."

It was an unforgettable moment of theatre. The line comes from Tony Kushner's epic play, Angels In America: Perestroika. In the production directed by Oskar Eustis at Trinity Rep in 1997, the character of Roy Cohn (in a powerful performance by Timothy Crowe) says this line as he stands in an elevator beginning his descent into hell. He declares this with head held high, as he sinks into smoke and burning light.

Following love where it takes me has led me through a twisty and bendy, frankly weird life so far. I could have been far more conventional and perhaps more comfortable, but here is where we are -- I'm not much for pondering alternative histories.

Love can take you weird places and sometimes it burns.

This morning I learned of the suicide of someone I knew a long time ago. We had not been in touch in a very long time, so I did not feel the shock and pain of those close to him. Someone set up a tribute page on Facebook. Lots of pictures and stories. The wave of surprise and grief is impressive. I learned a great deal about his adult life through these posts. It was quite an odyssey, a life of travel, of writing and searching, a life well examined and deeply felt, through which he touched many people and perfected many talents. Many speak of him as a person they turned to during their own darkest hours, someone with ample and generous supplies of love and compassion, someone who had been there himself. One person wrote, "Why didn't you call this time?"

Suffering, love, more suffering, more love. Round and round she goes. Opening your heart and exposing yourself to life. Awfully hard to do that alone.

Love has been called the burning point of life. The joy and the pain of being alive are combustible. We make tidy little structures out of our lives but the fire of life has a leveling tendency. Some of us seem to have figured out how to build a stove for ourselves and use the flames -- but fire is still fire. It is not awed by our structures and institutions, and cares nothing for wisdom and "spiritual practice."

Today I am feeling a bit raw and exposed, but all is well. Great tenderness for all suffering from life and love; to all of you who are messy and hurting, I am your friend.

[Photo: Remains of an old highway rest stop in Luna County.]

1 comment:

Kelly said...

A sobering post, Algernon.