Discourse on Loneliness: Rice Cakes or Pie Flakes?

If loneliness were food, it would be a rice cake.

Please excuse my odd comparisons. The nonsense helps me to cope; helps me giggle once in a while.

It’s good to giggle; to pull a laugh out of the darkness as one might retrieve a prized gerbil from the anus of month old elephant.

Laughter is an alchemical process. It has the capacity to lend golden hues to the shade of despair. I hope to laugh more on this trip; to make more room for genuine humor.

You see, I have a tendency toward over-seriousness. And for a long time, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that what this world needs is not seriousness so much as playfulness.

I hope to teach the world to be more playful. To find light in the mundane, the messy, and the morbid.

But I feel like a hypocrite. I feel like a hypocrite for wanting the world to heal and transform when I am so unwilling to commit to it myself. Earlier today, lost in contemplation, I mused to my friend, “I wonder what kind of healing I’m supposed to do.” To which he replied, “healing for you or others?” Admittedly, I was thinking of others. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite beautiful–this profound yearning I have to serve the world. But there is something missing from the equation–something so necessary that until it’s dealt with, the real work cannot begin. And that is an equally profound yearning to heal myself.

And that’s why I’m embarking on this trip to Europe. Because I want to heal–to experience a deeper sort of medicine. I want to face myself in unfamiliar mirrors. I want to find out where my walls are so I might begin to tear them down, so might begin to open my heart more fully. Because it’s painful to be closed off. I feel it so acutely–the way I distance myself from the ones I care about–the way I turn off my feeling self so as not to expose my vulnerability, so as not to expose my deep insecurities, so as not to be seen fully.

It is easier to hide. Or at least, hiding is my habit. It is not simply patterns of behavior and feeling. It’s a hardwired configuration of my nervous system. Loneliness is hardwired into me. It wraps itself around my bones until my joints ache with constriction; with the feeling that I am limited by who I am–that who I am is a burden, and perhaps the world is better off without me.

Suicide is a nice thought but I’m afraid of having to repeat all these lessons in the next life. I’m afraid I might actually have to confront what I’ve been running from all these years.

So here I am, less than a week from flying across the pond, less than a week from becoming a stranger in a strange land, where maybe loneliness will taste less like a rice cake and more like a piece of dutch apple pie and a cup of coffee in a corner booth of some dimly lit Amsterdam diner (they have those right?) I won’t be upset if they don’t. It just wouldn’t make much sense to call such a delicious dessert treat Dutch if the Dutch had nothing to do with it.

You know what? Give me a second to research this. It is important that this blog maintain the utmost accuracy when it comes to the Origins of Pie. We can’t take any chances if we want God to show up emblazoned in a crumble crust, or if we care to truly grasp the objects of our worship.

While you wait, here’s a picture of a cat dressed as a wizard. We’ll call him Hairy Potter:

“You’re a wizard, Hairy.”

Okay, I’m back. Thank you for your patience. So here’s the scoop, or should I say the slice:

Dutch Apple Pie is in fact… Dutch. Somewhere there is a book written in 1514 entitled Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen, which literally translates to “A Notable Little Cookery Book.” In its pages there is a recipe for Appeltaerten. Notabel indeed. How many cook books do you know that survived the Middle Ages? Clearly there is something divinely guided about Dutch Apple Pie, something inherently intelligent within its tarty innards. Either, someone in Heaven has a thing for crusted pastries, or medieval humans were just smart enough to know a good pie recipe when they saw one. Either way, we are fortunate to live in a world where pie has yet to go extinct–that is unless the bees go. Then it’s just a matter of time until our fruit supply runs dry and America has to find itself a different dessert to compare itself to.

Anyways, if you ever find yourself calling something as American as Apple Pie, just remember the Dutch were making appelkruimeltaart long before any pilgrims had pie at the Thanksgiving table.

I realize that I’ve digressed a great deal from my original point. So I’ll reiterate.

If loneliness were a food, it would be a rice cake. Bland. Flavorless. Dry. The kind of crunchy that leaves you dying of thirst. Or at least, that’s how I’ve felt for a long time.

It is my hope, nay my intention, that upon this European journey I come face to face with the rice cake of my loneliness and laugh as it transforms into a mouthwatering slice of Dutch apple pie. The process may take some time. Unlike water and wine, there’s no precedent for turning one into the other. No Gospel to speak of such miracles. Lest that Gospel be that of cooky old Thomas.

Jesus said, and I’m paraphrasing a little, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in coconut cream pie,’ they’re fucking lying. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known… But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty. It is you who are that rice cake.”

So don’t be a rice cake, I say. Look into the void and see the emptiness, see it glitter and glow with the terror of absolute nothing. See the mundane as magical. If I’m going to walk around with a wound in my core, I’d rather it taste like apples than grain. I’d rather I hold myself in high regards; cherish this solitary pilgrimage; cherish the strange contents of my oldest dreams; my wanderlust, my need to write; cherish feeling completely alone, completely unique, completely lost, for in that there might be a much deeper unity to discover.

Whoever it was that first saw a pile of rice and thought, “we should condense this pile into a single disc-like object,” that person was using the old noggin. That person, like so many before and after them, must have been driven by the desperate need to make the Many, One again. And is that not our greatest urge? To return? To remember that we are forever and always in beautiful relationship with the entire Universe, and nothing, not even the vicissitudes and illusions of space and time, can alter that reality?


Who the fuck really knows?

Your Good Pal Zo




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