Dear Love,

Sadly this will be my last letter for several days, as I’m off to visit my family and don’t intend to be on the computer during my visit. Sacrilege! And no, I don’t own a smart phone, or I-device, or tablet, or whatever. I bought my first cell phone 6 years ago when I was starting my private practice; otherwise, I don’t know if I’d own one, although mine has become indispensable in the meantime.

I am rushing a little with this letter as I still have packing left to do and leave early tomorrow. I have been feeling increasing anxiety and sadness about my father’s condition and operation, although I do trust that things will work out O.K. What it would mean to me to have you alongside me on this trip! Well, I’m sure there are good reasons why I need to do it on my own. Lots of preparation I still have to do before I am to meet you, I suspect.

I hope and pray that the coming days are beautiful ones for you and your loved ones. Please, if any intimation of this letter reaches you consciously or unconsciously, pray for my father and my family, and for all families going through major medical procedures.

I imagine that I will have so much to share upon my return. In the meantime, I will be composing letters to you in my mind and sending them via my thoughts and feelings towards you. Maybe you can feel them? There are certain people in my life with whom I’ve felt especially connected where I would know when they were going to call, even if it had been months since we’d spoken. Have you had that experience? AS physics shows us, time and space are not nearly so solid and essential as we imagine.

Well, my dear, know that my temporary silence is no reflection on my feelings and intentions towards you. Or rather, it is in the sense of my wishing to establish a healthy pattern of connecting and separating. How sweet the return is.

Yours,

 

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Dear Love,

Good evening. How are you? Well and in good spirits, I hope.

For my part, as one might predict after reading my last post, I’m feeling deflated. Such is the plight of a hopeless romantic who smacks into reality. Not that my date this evening was that bad – there were some very nice things to it. But I guess the spark was just missing, and so connecting just felt like work after a certain point. I didn’t have this experience with the previous two dates I was on, even though I like a number of things about the woman I met this evening. Safe to say she’s not you. Will I know you when I find you? How much will I have to let go of the fantasy to find the reality that is you?. The emotional rollercoaster can be quite exhausting. I suppose that as I continue to be mindful and see the pain in it, I’ll gradually let go of what I need to to make room for you in my life. May this be so.

My father’s surgery was moved up and so I am flying out Saturday morning. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by this. A fair amount of sadness has come up for me. About my parents getting old and (a little) infirm. The cycle of life is an extraordinary thing. A song came to me about this – not that I knew this as it was coming – this morning as I lay for a few moments on my floor after a period of sitting meditation, feeling myself held by the earth. This connected in my mind with an experience a few days ago when I was standing outside of my building about to start a period of walking meditation and had a deeper sense than before of being held up, rooted by mother earth. The song is about sprouting up from the earth and returning to her upon my death. A love song, really, to Mother Earth. I can tell that it needs piano accompaniment, not guitar as usual, and so will have to find a keyboard somewhere for this one. To me it sounds like the final song on an album – quiet, reflective. Do I sound like a musician yet? – how strange life is!

Well, my dear, dating is hard work, but I’m happy to weather it if it brings me closer to you. Are you consciously making your way to me? I could use the help. I may change my mind on this, but at my age, I feel like I’ve already done the short and intermediate term relationship thing and don’t’ feel a desire for it for its own sake. This certainly makes me more selective. Add to that the facts that I’m increasingly happy in my life, in spite of a certain wisdom I feel I’m rather young for my age because of certain delays in my earlier development, I live in the gray area between ordinary householder life and monastic life, I’m smart as a whip, et. etc. etc. and I guess I’m no easy catch. There was a profile on Match in which the woman said she was looking for someone who would be a good father and shortly, grandfather, and I wanted to run for the hills. Grandfather? What in the world might that word have to do with me? Give me some time to get my head around the father thing, will you?

O.K., so I just paused there to breathe. Did I mention to you that I have a lot of affective intensity. I was famous for this in college – “you’re too intense”, was a common refrain. I don’t get that anymore, but perhaps it’s just the circles I run in now. I hope that maybe you’re a little more even keel than I am, with your feet more firmly planted on the ground. More earth and water than the air and fire that dominate my personality. Then between us we could cover all the bases.

Well, dear, I hope you’ll forgive my somewhat melancholy and self-absorbed tone tonight. It’s just another shade of who I am. I suppose there are as many shades as there will be letters to you. As Whitman says, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” So it is for all of us. Spend as many sessions as I have with certain patients, and you will find as many sides to their personality, not to mention my own and our relationship. Such is the incredible richness of life. I don’t know about you, but most people I know, myself included, have a tendency to hide when not feeling “at our best”, when our consciousness may be dominated by aspects of our shadow side. Yet what is the light without shadow?

I look forward to the nights and days with you, my dear.

Yours,

 

Dear Love,

Hi there! Greetings from NYC. How are you, my dear?

I should keep things on the brief side this evening as I’m having some carpal tunnel pain. I could break out the Dragon but would rather focus on connecting with you than on correcting transcription errors.

I’ve felt quite a charge today emotionally – a lot is coming up from my unconscious. To try to articulate it would take more words than I have here, but I think it is all good.

I had a lovely meeting today with a senior at Yale who is interested in integrating mindfulness into psychology or education. I always value opportunities to meet thoughtful young people and also to talk about my own work as a contemplative psychologist. Are you in the helping professions? I imagine you may be, though you could just as well be a teacher or creative type or socially conscious entrepreneur. Am I showing my biases here? Well, so it is. I know this may offend some people, but when I search on Match I do exclude certain professions that I think have dubious claim to being right livelihood. Simply because I’d find it hard to reconcile the values that so profoundly shape how I approach each moment of my life with my partners’ career. As I write this, I realize it has something to do with my experiences in my marriage. My ex-wife was being supported by her parents and barely worked, which caused a great deal of conflict and pain for me.  I feel like, as St. Paul says, we have each been given certain talents to develop and use for good in our vocation(s) in this life. Anyway, clearly I haven’t reached Thay’s ideal of non-discrimination. So much work to do!

 Tomorrow night’s my big date – first date #3. I’m excited and nervous. I cried a little on the subway home for all of the hope and grief I feel in this area of my life. Where are you? No, stay there, I’m happy to experience the sadness and longing of waiting, as that is a part of our history. Did you ever see that movie the Fountain? Someone in my sangha was at a week-long Jungian retreat, which reminded me of a screening of that film I saw at the Jung Institute some years back. To me, that is the best romance film ever, hands down. Let’s do it this lifetime as we’ve done so many before, baby!

Can you tell that I’m excited? Who knows, maybe I’ll even meet you tomorrow night. Of course, the odds are extraordinarily slim, but if I am to meet you, some first date will be our first date. This is why I’m trying to make each one special in its own way, although I may tire of this once I start getting into double digits or something.

Well, my dear, I rattle on in an effort to put myself out there to connect with you, lacking some other means to communicate with you at this point. I will continue looking and listening for you.

Hugs and kisses to you and your loved ones.

Yours,

 

Dear Love,

You have felt very present with me throughout my day today, which is quite a blessing. I pray the same for you, my dear. Some days my faith is stronger than others that we will be brought together when the time is right. Today I felt relatively strong.

On my morning commute I finished the lyrics for a song the first two verses of which came to me some weeks back as I was playing guitar up on the roof of my building. It’s gorgeous up there at night, with the Empire State and Chrysler buildings all lit up across the East River. Here’s the first verse of the song:

Fires rage, other places

are under the water

we know that something’s asunder.

We can make it right

if we only look up

from the pages in our minds.

I think it’s a very sweet song. I imagine myself singing you to sleep with it some night. How happy that would make me!

My father’s surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday. Although he is asymptomatic, he has a heart abnormality that requires replacement of a valve. Thankfully, it appears he won’t need any bypass, which would significantly complicate the procedure. As I mentioned before, the risks are extremely low, so I haven’t been worrying – at least consciously – much.

Happily, my dear, when we do meet, I think you can expect to come into a much more harmonious situation between my parents and me than was the case some years back. A good chunk of my analysis has been dedicated to working on my relationships with them. To be precise, I’ve done a great deal of work on my relationships with them within me, inasmuch as each of us carries our parents and others around with us as internal objects. Gratefully, the changes that have taken place within me have had palpable effects on my interactions with my mother and father objectively. Certainly they have noticed. This is very heartening to me, after years of such intense anger, grief, alienation, and guilt as I have felt towards them. I will be so happy for you to meet them.

I have so many questions for you, my dear, though I know not where to direct them. Perhaps somewhere else on the internet or on good old fashioned paper you are writing me about your own life story. Maybe we are having a conversation but don’t even know it. Or maybe I’m getting way ahead of you, and when we do meet, I’ll have to sit and listen to you for days, weeks, months to catch up. Well, I could think of worse fates.

I dreamed of a woman I don’t know last night but she didn’t seem to be you. My feelings were too ambivalent towards her. Please don’t hesitate to visit me as such, when you’re able. I will relish falling asleep as I have never before.

Yours,

 

Dear Love,

It is a few minutes after midnight. I only have so much left in the tank, as they say, but wanted to share whatever is left with you – and of course with God in my nightly prayers to follow. How I wish that upon their conclusion, you were getting into bed with me. How I long to curl up in your arms and fall asleep together. I think that the feel of you has been making its way into my dreams. At  least this would explain how you seem so present with me upon my awakening. Like dreams in general, this sense quickly fades with the onset of the day, but it seems to return at times like now when my state of consciousness begins gradually shifting toward sleep.

Oh love, what a long day it has been. Some wonderful work with my patients, and then an involved commute home because of a stalled train at Grand Central. I was surprisingly unphased by this, considering that I had one last Skype session to make at home that I ended up having to postpone on account of the train troubles. I seem to be increasingly internalizing the mantra I often share with my patients, “All that matters is that you try your best.” It’s a remarkable thing, really, but it works. If I know I’ve done the best I can, even if I make mistakes or fall short of my ideals for performance, I can always fall back on this. No guilt, no regret. This is why, according to commentaries I have read, that sela, or right thought, speech, and action, are at the base of the Noble Eightfold Path. With these in place, a settled, concentrated mind with the clarity for insight becomes possible. Or, as Krishna advises Arjuna on the battlefield, one need only do one’s dharma, without being attached to the fruits of one’s actions.

I have a date Thursday evening with Rochelle. Her voice mails to me have been much friendlier than her outgoing voice mail, so I’m looking forward to meeting her. She doesn’t know this yet, but we’re going to David Burke’s Townhouse for Restaurant Week. I want you to know that I am not a foodie, although I come from a family of them. How do people say it on Match? “I’m just as comfortable cooking a dinner at home or eating at a divey ethnic restaurant as eating at some fancy place.” But sometimes it’s fun to do things out of the normal routine. My last first date, with my cousin’s friend Michelle, I made a balsamic pasta salad and a lovely – if I might say so myself – spelt rye bread. We picnicked on a bench by the Brooklyn Bridge as it started to drizzle, which was a relief given the humidity. Michelle has the depth of character and spirituality I imagine you have, but she doesn’t seem happy. Still, since she lives upstate anyway, I’m giving things some time to see what she’s really made of.

Seems it would be much easier if someone just gave me a map revealing my way to you. But then, there wouldn’t be any reason for living this life, would there, if I knew where it would lead? This is why we – most of us, at least – read novels from front to back. It is what gives impulsion to our reading and living. No, I wouldn’t choose to see the script of my life even if I could, though I wouldn’t mind a sneak peak of your dear face. Maybe in my dreams one of these nights.

Ah, I sound like such a romantic when I’m tired, don’t’ I? Happily I can bring the feel of you to mind and so it is easy to generate such feelings. I hope you can see how dear you are to me. Imagine how we’ll feel after meeting and then after spending years and years together. Such blessings!

May you feel me in your dreams, too, my love.

Yours,

Dear Love,

I intended to write you as soon as I got home, but I had to stop to listen to a lovely instrumental adaptation of a Handel aria by Rachel Brown and the London Handel Players on WQXR. Well, here I am. How are you? Are you bearing global warming O.K.? We’ve had so many 90+ days here in NYC this summer that it almost starts to feel normal, almost.

Well, today was a nearly perfect day for me, excepting the fact that I didn’t wake up with you and won’t go to bed with you tonight. I woke up longing for you and confronted some pretty extreme frustration on this account through my morning practices. Even after 10 years of analysis and meditation, it takes me a great effort to stay mindful in such states. And yet I largely succeeded.  After feeling rather foggy at first, I began to feel the depth of my anger and grief over the course of my sitting and walking meditation. My anger peaked in the midday as I boarded the subway for Brooklyn. Given the intensity of what I was feeling at that point, I had to give myself a good, strong talking to,  acknowledging the anger I was feeling while refusing to let it drag me down. I told myself that this would only postpone happiness and the possibility of finding you, which of course I know to be true rationally. It’s just that there is a very young part of me that doesn’t have such perspective yet. Thank God for analysis, that’s all I can say. How else could I have learned to “walk the razor’s edge” with my anger – or that of others, for that matter – without the help of my dear teacher?

So now you know that I have anger issues, and that I know that I have them. Do you still want to be with me? I hope so. Well, as I was saying, today was a nearly perfect day. Besides making strides with my anger, I had the opportunity through my work – two phone sessions in the early afternoon – and my sangha activities to gain a little deeper insight into the nature of interbeing. This is what I really wanted to write you about tonight, but the crystal clarity I had on this issue a couple of hours ago has already faded a little, and so I’d rather wait to share when this feels more in the moment.

How does your week upcoming look? Mine seems pretty busy, and then I fly midwest for my father’s surgery. I realize I haven’t told you about that yet – we’ve had so little time. I’ll say more over the coming days. No worries – although it’s a major procedure, it’s a routine one, and the risks of complications are extremely low.

Well, my dear, I’ve been doing my best to very gently flirt (really no more than a smile or kind word) with promising women I come across, just in case one of them turns out to be you. Please let me know if ever it is. You’ll know me, I trust, from the feel you’re getting from these letters. If you have any doubt, my secret question is the name of my childhood pet. I’m not going to give you the answer here, but if you ask this secret question of someone and he answers without hesitation or a puzzled look, you can trust it is me.

Hugs and kisses, my love.

Yours,

Dear Love,

So I went to see Celeste and Jesse Forever tonight. I feel like I’m turning into a sap, between this and Ruby Sparks a week or so ago. In my defense, my favorite film recently is Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is distinctly not a romantic comedy. Did you see Celeste and Jesse? What did you think? I really liked the film, although I didn’t strongly identify with the main characters. I liked the complexity of their relationship and how much Celeste especially grew over the course of the film. If you haven’ seen it, I’d recommend it to you, along with the two aforementioned. Wish we could have seen them together.

I called Rochelle earlier today to set up a date. Her outgoing voice mail was rather terse and not especially welcoming. I don’t think she’s you – or should I say, you’re her? – , but I’m curious enough to give it at least one date. She certainly seems intelligent and attractive. At the risk of sounding shallow, my love, I hope that you are pretty. Not to say beautiful or hot. My ex-wife, by others’ judgment and my own, was hot. But then you probably don’t want to hear that. I promise you, it was no picnic. Pretty is plenty good for me. Most importantly, may you have a sweet smile upon your lips and in your eyes. One’s smile, I think, reflects the quality of one’s heart. And there’s nothing more important to me in a person than the quality of her heart. See, I’m not so shallow after all!

I’m very much looking forward to an afternoon and evening of practice tomorrow with our Brooklyn sangha. We are studying the Sutra on the Full awareness of Breathing and will be focusing on the third tetrad on working with the mind. These workshops have really helped to deepen my sitting meditation practice, which has been in need of such for a long time. As a result, I’ve been sitting first thing in the morning after my a.m. prayers and metta practice and before my morning walking meditation. Do you have a morning ritual? I think it’s a wonderful way to start things off – sets a certain tone for the remainder of the day.

As the lights went down in the movie theater, I prayed for you to come to me. Shortly I will pray for you again, as I always do in my evening prayers. May God bring us together when we are each ready to receive one another with open hearts. Until then, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.

Yours,

 

Dear Love,

 So I know I mentioned the Match thing yesterday. I don’t want you to get jealous. I’ve only had two dates so far, and one was a blind date set up by my cousin. But really, how am I supposed to find you if I’m not looking?

On my way home this evening, before my thoughts turned to you, I was practicing subway sangha. This is a form of metta practice that came to me a few days ago. I was sitting on the subway, feeling rather neutral towards the people sitting across from me. Then I reexperienced the sweetness I had felt a couple of evenings before, as I sat in a circle with members of my sangha. And for several moments I felt this sweetness toward the people on the subway, too. For are we all not members of one community of practice – all on the same fundamental path together – whether or not we’re aware of it? Certainly my fellow subway riders are as worthy of love as the dear members of my sangha of practitioners – we are all one in God’s eyes. So I’ve been practicing this. I can’t wait to share it with you.

I must admit that, after a flush of excitement in imagining relating this to you as I disembarked the subway, I felt sadness for the fact that, at this point, you exist for me only in my imagination. My mind even went to a darker place of wondering about the sanity of this endeavor. Damn that Ruby Sparks! And yet it occurs to me – as it has at points in past – that, if indeed I have an intended – then you have already been born and have lived many years of this life. Do your thoughts ever turn to me?

Well, my love, I need to turn my attention to the Occupy song that I’m working on. The melody came to me several months ago, when I was more active in the movement. It’s been a delight to return to the song and to begin to flesh out the lyrics some more. If I’m going to be a songwriter, I need to have a protest song, right? I’m making sure that it has many verses, which should give it protest song cred.

As ever, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.

 

Yours,

 

Dear Love,

How I longed for you today, as I ended a rather long and emotionally draining day at work. Although it is only the beginning of August, I feel like my delightful summer has come to an end. Patients are returning to the city and referrals are starting to trickle in again. No more essentially three-day workweeks. And it is only this morning that I burned a second CD of the songs I’ve been working on with all of my free time this July. There are half a dozen of them, of which I think two or three are quite good. Who would have thought – if you knew me when – that I would be writing songs! It was some 25 years ago that I first learned to play guitar and became so involved with the Postcrypt. I could only dream at that time and for years to come that my relationship to singing and songwriting would be anything but vicarious. Now I find myself singing freely in public and have gone so far as to lead sing alongs at my sangha, including of my own material. If this doesn’t speak to the power of psychoanalysis, I don’t know what does.

On the computer again tonight searching for you. Are you Isreali? I found a lovely Jewish woman who seems Israeli, who has an interest in Buddhism and seems like a very alive person. Match said that she hadn’t been on line for over three weeks, so odds are she’s not subscribed and isn’t my beschert, but I e-mailed anyway. Is your name Kathleen or Rochelle? I may well have dates with a Kathleen and a Rochelle coming up – at least I hope so.

I feel a strange mixture of great impatience to meet you and faith that God will bring you to me in time. I would feel very sad not to meet you in this lifetime, though. As I do every night, I pray that you and your loved ones are well, and that you keep hope of our meeting, too. As you are my intended, I love you with all my heart. Of course, once we meet, I will have to learn how to do this for the actual person you are, but I would relish such an occasion, whatever challenges it might bring.

Yours,