Zen and the Art of Arc Welding

Split ends of clock’s tick and flee
from the circle of power where union is meet
in a cooper’s wheel, hard and hot like fire
from welding’s arc and concentrated blue flame.

It’s not so much the trip, he says, 
but the fact that you are traveling together, 
down dark and musty paths that lead
to places only memory maps can ponder.

The time, she says, the time is passing by
like blades of grass — we see the green in toto,
but each separate tine we step upon 
like grains of sand on a beach.

He speaks of love and power and control. 

It’s like this: isn’t it defined as someone who is freaked out
by the fact that they might be
under the control of another?

And isn’t it so: that when you ask someone
to admit they are controlling you 
that you’re looking for a reason not to have control?

Love, she said, is not about control – 

it’s not a question, at least, of how much
you control and mold and shape another, 
but how much control you have over Self. 

I cannot, she said, taken responsibility
for the fact that your life is unfulfilling,
that you are unhappy.

That is not my business,
and by asking me why I must control, 
asking if I do want control, 
you are making it my problem 
without giving the responsibility to change it. 

Furthermore, I cannot change it, 
even if you or I wanted me to. 
Because, she added, it is not in my power
to change anything except myself.

So, he asked, is it like that? 

Then who is it that must suffer, 
if you do not allow me to pick the lice from your head, 
and yet do nothing yourself about them, 
and so if I am to be close to you I must then be infected?

You choose, she replied, to suffer, 
rather than to ask me, to command — 
the lice or me — 
or accept infestation as the price you pay
for what you want. 

For that, that is your choice, 
the only thing you can control. 

If you ask me to make the choice
between cleanliness and you, 
or dirtiness and solitude, 
you are hoping to influence my decision
by controlling me, which IS control. 

Hope, she said, is control, 
if it is by hope that you want to change me. 

Your desire for change in anyone but yourself is control,
for you have externalized upon me
your need to control yourself,
your desire to have the world conform
to a pattern you perceive yourself by,
rather than changing your perception
to admit yourself into the world as it exists.

You and I, then, he answered, cannot strike a compromise?

The only compromise you make, 
that you have the power to make, 
break or negotiate,
is with yourself,
between what you truly want and desire 
(which, when considered and balanced
 with the desires of the flow of the universe, is Truth) 
and what you are afraid to face
in yourself and for yourself,
that is,
alone and tired,
destitute and cold,
are willing to accept
as your reality.

We need each other, you see,
not as pillars or beams to support us in our weakness,
but rather as parts of the same soul and being that share,
because of their own fullness,
the journey we all make together.

01 SEP 1995

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