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Publishing, Writing, Consulting

Today You Reflect and Feel.

Jill L. Cooper

Jill L. Cooper is a poet and writer. Her writing has appeared in print literary journals, The Raven ChroniclesThe Floating Bridge ReviewShark Reef Literary Magazine, as well as online magazines, Rewire MeThe Rebelle Society, HIV Here & Now, and others. Cooper’s poetry has been anthologized in Silent Applause of Butterflies (Columbia Center for the Arts, 2014), Pontoon (Floating Bridge, 2015), Delirious—A Tribute to Prince (Night Ballet Press, 2016), and in I Only Wanted to See You Laughing (Yellow Chair Review, 2016), and others. She was the creator and editor of The Yes Book (Exult Road, 2014). Cooper has served as the Executive Director of a Buddhist publishing house, and as a consultant to publishers, and as an author coach. She is currently working on a book-length collection of prose poetry, and on a collection of lyrical essays. Cooper lives in the beautiful Palouse region of Washington state. In all her work, she intends to affirm and celebrate existence. To contact her, write to jillcooper11 at gmail dot com. 

Today You Reflect and Feel.

Jill Cooper

www.exultroad.com
Ah listen, for Silence is not lonely: Imitate the magnificent trees that speak no word of their rapture, but only Breathe largely the luminous breeze.
— D.H. Lawrence

Yesterday splintered into an argument.

 

You love a person, but in moments of reverberating pain of what was said, you can hardly remember why.

Yesterday was a storm, and all the windows were left open.

You feel the sense of cold betrayal that rises when the person you trust most with your thoughts and views, with your strengths and weaknesses, tears you down with a few ill-chosen sentences, judgments that don’t even seem to have a basis. You feel blind-sided, attacked.

The relationship itself quakes at its fault lines.

 

Fight or flight.

 

Yesterday you had to leave the house to get away. You had to drive and drive and drive. You took the dog with you, and parked on a rainy street in another town. You cried in your car and replayed the words that were said, not even in anger, just in censure. You try to shake off the sense of shock. You justify what was said. You blame yourself.

 

But you don’t regret standing up for yourself.

 

You believe that expressing your pain will help. You try to explain why it hurts. You write poems, and a letter.  You to try to find the lesson in it. You are ready to move on. But the words feel branded in your mind like a drunken tattoo. The apology never came.

 

How could he say that? is the refrain.

 

The house of “we” you wander safely in has been hit by a wrong-word tornado.

 

So you walk the dog through the streets in the rain, and then towel him off and put him in the car for a nap. He licks your hand and looks at you with knowing, comforting eyes.

 

You wander into the library. A poet is giving a talk to a group of Sunday afternoon people. You navigate your way to the back of the room with its vaulted ceilings and stacks of books and you sit down in a hard chair looking across the field of white hair in front of you.

 

All this will pass you as you think about your inner sadness. You’ll grow old together and laugh about it someday.

 

But how?

 

You soften into the question. Receptive to calm. The poet’s silhouette gestures in front of a floor-to-ceiling window of afternoon grey light.

 

The soothing voice of the poet, who is talking about daily writing practices, curls into your ears like song and then everything changes suddenly. You hear the word “silence” and an unfathomable peace enters you on the wave of those two syllables.

 

Silence.

 

A stripe of bright sky out the window opens like a huge waking eye lidded by clouds.

 

You resolve to keep your own silence, today, maybe longer, maybe even for a few days. Not a punishing one, but a reflective silence, a bowing to the present moment, to all the feelings you experience, and a meditation with the source of life within you. The sun disorganizes the clouds outside.

 

The poet talks about his magical trip to Bhutan. You float in and out of awareness, soon listening more deeply as you feel into this layered silence. Even deciding on a period of silence quiets the mind as well as the tongue. The poet tells a story of how he approached a master with a request to learn martial arts. The master said to him that as a master poet of peace, he had certainly already attained what he needed to learn.

 

The poet thought he’d been misunderstood and clarified; he wanted to learn how to move in a way so as to defend himself against attack. The master repeated again, “You have already learned the way,” he explained.

 

The first thing you learn in martial arts is to respond with violence to your attackers. That works for a time, but then they come back with their friends and you are overwhelmed. The second lesson you learn is to distract your attacker with many words and movements. You avoid by leaping and twirling away. That works at first, but then he comes back with their friends and more ammunition and again, you are overwhelmed.

photo: Heidi Smith

photo: Heidi Smith

 

After much more practice, you then learn to enter deep silence. From the silence you compose your thoughts and your movements in life in such a way that you become invisible to your attacker. You move in the world so that when your attacker comes to find you, you are not there to be attacked, and he gives up…for now.

 

Finally, after many more years of practice being in and creating from the silence, you move through the world in such a way that you are strewing peace and love everywhere you go, in everything you do, with all that you do and say. And your attackers do not even think of attacking you.

 

Yesterday splintered into an argument. 

 

Today you relish the deep silence. 

 

Today you enter the void of all creation, and bear witness to the extremes in order to know the balance between them.

 

Today, you keep silence in word, and in action. Today, you understand the clean rapture of pure being. Today, the cat is stretched out in the sun on your lap, the mountain fits in the palm of your hand, and you do not forgive, because in the silence you find the power of knowing there is nothing to forgive, because there was nothing to judge.  

 

Today you see the destructive and creative roles you play. In the silence, your focus clears. You know your choices.

 

There is only reflection and feeling. Today you reflect and feel.

 

You become free of the reasons and stories of yesterday. Now, you observe the inner movement from the impulse toward defense, to avoidance, to calm reflection, and into deep peace.

 

Today blossoms into even more love.

 

With love, 

Jill Cooper

Exult Road

 

Originally published on RebelleSociety.com