The solitude held him together—gently bearing and balancing the weight of flesh and bone and mind and soul. Silence, he thought to himself, changes its tone from one moment to the next, it is, like love, never a static thing.

Sitting, staring out of the window, he realized that he was less interested than he once was in seeking answers to questions that belonged to the realm of mystery. He craved paradox and prayed for the strength to take up residence there.

He heard his belly grumble. He looked up at the lamps—glowing orbs in his tiny borrowed palace. He was hungry but did not crave. He longed for touch while grateful for solitude. He wished to belong and to remain apart. He resisted the temptation to resolve these contradictions. That, he thought, would be too easy—a dull psychological exercise. He chose, instead, to follow the wisdom of his belly and prepare lunch.

Little boy, it is so easy for you to feel unloved. I see you watching the faces, scanning the world with those sad brown eyes. Little boy, I see you are already learning to hold back your heart so that it won’t get broken again. It is already so big. Little boy, I see you hide yourself away, secretly hoping you will be found. Little boy, I see your arms getting stronger so that you may hold tightly to the love you hope will come. Look here. Look in my direction. The love is right here. My strong arms were also made for loving embraces. My heart is also big—big enough to hold both of us.

I am an animal—as ready to snarl as I am ready to whimper, tail between legs, in the shadows. Longing for a cage. A container. If I lower my guard I will be eaten, beaten, injured. I restlessly and vigilantly smell, listen, watch. Hiding. Alone.

Have the things around me betrayed me or I them? I look through my window–the mountains blanketed by the morning light. I beg them to touch me. Nothing. I feel like a jilted lover. I turn to the digital world–my cold, but placating, mistress. Endless movie menus and news sites and….nothing. Twenty minutes have passed and I have been scrolling without looking. Restlessness. Fear. Panic. Indecision. I picture myself lifting weights. I picture myself walking. My body goes limp. It rejects me as well. So I turn to this…which amounts to….what?

A scream from an unreachable place. A shout. A plea to the universe or god or something/someone for help. And it is not fame or riches for which I pray. I ask for a return to myself. To that imperfect, unexciting but soulful place.

Sacred acts disfigured. Ocular opiates made of 1’s and 0’s. An economy of digital skin. A desperate grasp for intimacy. Unlimited choices in lieu of sensuality and vulnerability. A quixotic hunt for the one. A distorted sense of freedom and control. The find. Grey robotic tugs. The splash. The clean up. A soulful longing cheapened. A leadened heart. Emptiness.

I awake and deliberately position my body so that I sit on the the side of the bed. Standing up in the morning is an event for which I must prepare. I enviously imagine an able-bodied child popping out of bed on Christmas morning—no rituals or transitions. Fluidity. Life force expressed without limitations. I can no longer rouse myself from bed like a young man, there are inflamed joints and aching muscles and the accumulation of a lifetime of injuries. For a moment I understand why we turn away from the aged.

People think and speak of life and death poetically and philosophically. Poetry, literature, myth and religions have been created to help us cope with and, conversely, add to the mystery and depth of our mortality. But nobody wants to witness the insidiously awkward and slow march to the grave.

I look down at my pillow and see a blood stain—large, encrusted; like dried out mud on pavement. I lift the pillow case and see that it has soaked through to the pillow itself. I gently place the palm of my hand to the back of my head and search for the wound. I go to the mirror and see that my nose and beard are stained with blood. I feel a momentary sense of relief—better a bloody nose than another infected head cyst.

On my walks I frequently see a woman who appears to be in her 80’s or 90’s. Everyday she shuffles the uneven leaf strewn sidewalks on a walker. Always alone. It is…beautiful. Breathtaking for reasons I cannot articulate. Perhaps it is her dignity and the grace that god bestows upon it. I greet her whenever I can. She looks at me kindly and says hello. The lovely young joggers with their firm bottoms and swishing pony tails do not register me. And I, for the most part, do not heed them. The hyper-masculine white men walk past as though it would be a weakness to bestow kindness upon another man. I play the masculinity game with them for my own safety. But she…she graces me with her attention and I give her mine. I am grateful.

There are times when I, perhaps naively, view sexual intimacy as sacred. But then it is hard to reconcile how the same person who shared in this ritual with me only nine months ago could be so….coldly matter-of-fact with me only last month.

Dear reader, I am not without a practical side. That part of me understands. And the understanding brings with it little to no pain. But I am also one with romantic and maybe even spiritual side. So when I awoke this morning to the sight of the dull carpet drinking in the morning sunlight, I could not help but remember what happened in March. Was she the sunlight and I the carpet?

Why if it was so sacred have I already forgotten so much? There are only flashes—images, feelings. She walks in. We kiss. Then…blankness until…I kneel before her. Between her. As if in prayer. But what happened between the kiss and the prayer? Did we talk? Did I undress her? My left hand on her belly to steady her and…more blankness. Then the ecstasy. That thing that happens when we can transfer the energy of our love, lust and longing through our bodies. And then…blankness. Did we talk? Did we look longingly into one another’s eyes? Was I happy? Blankness. I remember something…that unspoken but mutual knowing that this was a transient thing. That the clock was ticking. I remember feeling at peace with the idea that we only got to have that moment; hoping that she could have more with…anyone.

Perhaps what makes me question myself, what makes me feel foolish is the idea that what I describe with so much care, what I frame as spiritual…maybe it really is just fucking. And maybe I imagine it as something more because I’m lonely or because I think too much or because I need to feel like it matters. Were I less lonely would I still view that moment as so special? Am I just full of shit?

I am crying but I’m not sure why. I don’t feel any sort of direct longing for her right now. In fact, right now I long for nothing. For no one. Would that I could simply taste these tears and understand them. Maybe I can think of the tears as born of mystery. Why not let this lonely imagination have that?