113th Annual Conference - Portland, Oregon
Friday, November 6 - Sunday, November 8, 2015

Meditation: Sutra, "Thread"

Jacqueline Lyons, California Lutheran University

This short essay follows the etymologies of several Latinate words--desire, error, alone, and abide--to explore associations of the words themselves, and states of being associated with the dissolution of a relationship.



(Note: Below is the short prose piece in full.)


Meditation: Sutra, “Thread”


Split, I seek out sources, and decide to sit in on a Latin class. Latin guides me along the thin surface threads to the buried roots of desire, error, alone, and abide, as if studying the word desire will reveal what drives it, as if unearthing error’s evolution will show me how I came to mine.


I learn cupio, cupere, cupivi, cupitum, “to desire, wish, long for”, as in cupid, cupidity, covet, covetous. Cupid should be pictured with his arrow slung crooked, tip grazing bare thigh. Cupid’s message is not what it seems, and requires interpretation like a dream. Think before you ride the message fast to a conclusion, cover one eye and watch for the figurative. Write it in the dirt, sleep on it, see what sleep erases. Love is not cute. Cupid has a mean streak, on a mission to split. His mantra is opposite effect—glitter and dull, aflame and damp, pursuit and flight. Cupid makes a mess of desire. Attraction leads to attachment, which is suffering. Cupid captures breezy wishes then holds them down until they breathlessly submit.


Errare as in “to wander; err, go astray, make a mistake and be mistaken” as in erratic, errant, erroneous, error, aberration. One winter asked me, How did you get here? When once I had thought of what could end a marriage, my list consisted of infidelity and death. I did not consider mental illness, the imbalance of the spouse’s mind. I knew close to nothing about bipolar disorder, how it can exaggerate some qualities and thin others, so that one scarcely resembles himself. It seemed to me the winter that I had to move into an apartment alone, that all this was a terrible mistake, but I couldn’t point to the moment of the error exactly, when or by what name. Yet I had been pulled into the woods of it, and now had to find a way back out.


Pulled up by the roots, solus drew me in, “alone, only, the only”, as in sole, solitary, soliloquy, as in solo, desolate, sullen. Solum as in ground, as in ad solum exuri, burnt to the ground; solum as in only, merely, barely; solum as in bottom, ground floor, soil, sole of foot; solum as in single, alone, lonely. Thoreau makes an odd bedfellow when looking for relationship advice, considering his own thwarted attempts at love, but he is an excellent counselor on solitude, sensing the “sweet and beneficent society in Nature” when he hears the rain, and finding “an infinite and unaccountable friendliness” in sights and sounds. He feels “befriended” by “every little pine needle”, and one long winter I looked out from my bedroom window at a tall pine down the hill that seemed, as it swayed in wind, to nod affectionately at me.


During my long lesson in impermanence, I learn remanere, “to stay, abide, continue”, as in permanent, remnant, mansion, manor, immanent; and radicitus “by the roots, root and all, completely, utterly” as in eradicate. Instead of standing on my feet, I tried to stand on my hands. I heard my yoga teacher’s voice in my head as I lamely kicked into the air, “You know what that’s called? That’s called ‘I can do it but I don’t think I can do it’”, and then I kicked up into a handstand. My feet floated overhead, which made sense the year winter arrived early, and stayed through spring and summer and into the next fall.