The Singularity

9 Sep


You can break a thing, but you cannot always guide it afterward into the shape you want. ― Holly Black


I loathe Walmart.

Something in its essence captures the very heart of existential crisis.

Its cold. And cheap. And filled with everything in the world that lacks meaning. The nothingness that is imbued in every item in Walmart reflects the existential angst of life.

Even the people.

Have you ever seen a happy Walmart employee…seriously? Really now…be honest. The ones closest to the door are always the most well adjusted and then as you move into the cavernous warehouse of grey gloom, the people just seem bereft. Filled with a deadness of spirit that resemble poor souls post dementor (ala J. K. Rowling).

No present. No future. Nothing.

And the people who shop there, endlessly rolling their oversized carts aisle to aisle, each one relatively the same through endless aisle after aisle searching for something that is soon forgotten by the tenth lane. Their look says, “I came in here for …what?”

By the time you exit two hours later, $100 poorer with a cart full of meaninglessness without the primary object you were intent to secure in only five minutes, you swear. “I will never set foot into that depressive morass again. It’s a suicide den…How did Walmart become the singularity?”

But down on aisle five, on the way to the yoga mats, it caught me. A pillow…cream with brown stitching, in cursive writing.

Its little mouth sang among the other dorm room flowered matching puffs.

“Love You More”

I stopped. My face screwed up into a pained grimace. Tears were instant.

“Breathe”, I told myself. “This is what you practice for”.

Completely fine with list in hand of tasks on a beautifully hot September day, my life had been flitting right along.

Honestly, I’ve been surprisingly happy, light, full of purpose since late July. Not feeling so much loneliness. A pervasive sense of forward momentum has had me lighter, hopeful, confident. The new school year has been amazingly filled with change and for the better. Mindfulness and its practice is now my professional focus. I’ve restarted a program to provide yoga for the faculty. Every week, I write a uplifting email based on a quote from Fred Rogers for teachers which goes to four school systems. Message From Fred has given me purpose and a way to give back to my profession, to love people, to inspire them to love themselves.

August was filled with creating and organizing a proposal for an outdoor classroom. Now, its professional development book talks, mandala workshops. I get off Facebook at 7:30 and read every night. Books on spirituality, mindfulness, universal principles. Every day I wake up, something else appears in my head to change school into a place I want to be. From the physical environment, to the emotional dynamic, to the outdated curriculum, I’m moving forward toward some unidentified destination, confident that wherever it is I’m going I’m meant to arrive there.

The momentum has propelled me, until the Walmart pillow.

“Love You More”

Like a stop sign you see almost too late, that phrase brought me to a screeching halt. Tears the size of peas fell out of blankly staring eyes. I focused on at that pillow without picking it up. Its little tune rang of a time when I knew the conviction of how being in love felt down to my bones. I’ve since given up wondering if the original singer of that line ever meant it. Since July, I’ve been looking for a way to connect to my childish innocence again, but now the pillow slams my heart with another question: Can I ever be in love with anyone again? And if so, how will I know, because I don’t know how it is supposed to feel anymore. And that makes me strangely furiously numb.

Oh, I can love. Believe me. I feel love all the time. From my students, to my friends and family, to the dark snuggly dog at the back of my knees every night, I feel enormously loved. Patience, gratitude, the ability to give, all these things seem easier now. I love myself, as much an imperfect human can. When I see dandelion seeds floating in a swirl outside my classroom window or the flaming skies of the late summer sunrise. I do feel love. I pour forth love. Big Love. Love like a whale. Love like an ocean of stars in the cool blue expanse of a night sky.

But the pillow’s song of love? I can’t feel it.

For as much as I emote rather grandmotherly toward just about everything…It’s the predominance of that sort of love that scares the shit out of me. Desire has changed too, for there is this seeming impermeable block in the connection between passionate physical expression and the spiritual ecstasy and vulnerability I have felt before in my heart with such matters. Passion is different now. . . it stops at the door of my soul hot, breathless, and unsatisfied.

This thing…its got to be a scar, because a callous presupposes use. At first I thought I was broken, but I’m not. I’m whole. Healed. But maybe being mended and mended and amended at the same spot so much has the healing knitted into a thick white blue band densely woven by the effort of creating it.

And all platitudes aside about scars adding strength and character and the metaphors of the mending of Japanese bowls with gold, real scars are permanent people. Permanent.


You may think I’m crazy but I’m going back to Walmart and buying that pillow. Right now. It’s the only place to start.

Wish me luck. If I’m not out in five minutes…send in a rescue.

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