Just Some Thoughts

Just some thoughts, that’s what this post is all about.

Statistics are thoughts, and I liked to cite them here often. For example, my wife’s affair launched as an emotional, on-line affair 498 days ago. Other statistics I have liked to cite include the fact that the vast majority of affairs run their course in anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Six months is 182.5 days; 24 months is 730 days. The average of these two figures is 456.25 days, so that means that right now, my wife’s affair has exceeded the average by 9.15%.

Such statistical thoughts lead me to thoughts of other imagined statistics, here, from  James Joyce’s Ulysses:

What relation existed between their ages?

16 years before in 1888 when Bloom was of Stephen’s present age Stephen was 6. 16 years after in 1920 when Stephen would be of Bloom’s present age Bloom would be 54. In 1936 when Bloom would be 70 and Stephen 54 their ages initially in the ratio of 16 to 0 would be as 17 1/2 to 13 1/2, the proportion increasing and the disparity diminishing according as arbitrary future years were added, for if the proportion existing in 1883 had continued immutable, conceiving that to be possible, till then 1904 when Stephen was 22 Bloom would be 374 and in 1920 when Stephen would be 38, as Bloom then was, Bloom would be 646 while in 1952 when Stephen would have attained the maximum postdiluvian age of 70 Bloom, being 1190 years alive having been born in the year 714, would have surpassed by 221 years the maximum antediluvian age, that of Methusalah, 969 years, while, if Stephen would continue to live until he would attain that age in the year 3072 A.D., Bloom would have been obliged to have been alive 83,300 years, having been obliged to have been born in the year 81,396 B.C.

My thoughts right now is that, in the realm of human relationships, statistics aren’t very meaningful. Such statistics are just abstractions, and cannot express the qualitative aspects of human relationships and their inevitable vicissitudes; thoughts about such statistics are just abstractions of abstractions.

I also thought about going down to the center where I do my spiritual practice, and in fact, this evening, I did. In this sense, my abstract thoughts became real in the world of actions. I went there to look for a book, and in the end I chose a book called The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the MindThis is Buddhist stuff, mind you. It was written by Traleg Kyabgon, a master of the Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism who died last year. Lojong, as a practice, consists of the contemplation of pithy slogans as a means of generating greater compassion in one’s daily life; there are many commentaries like this one that are available, and they can be very helpful, as the pithiness of these slogans can, at times, get confusing. The slogan I worked with this morning was as follows:

Self-liberate even the antidote.

Hmmmm. The antidote here is the analytical meditation that one uses to cut through confused cognition, but what does it mean to “self-liberate” even that? The commentary I had this morning was by Pema Chödrön, who simply said that you need to let go of everything—even the realization that there’s nothing left to hold on to. This is a slippery concept to wrap one’s mind around: Buddhists call it “emptiness,” or shunyata; while it sounds like there is nothing there, the reality is that “emptiness” is instead full of possibility, endlessly giving birth to the myriad experiences we have each day. Clinging too tightly to our perceptions and thoughts is essentially the cause of suffering. Those of us who have and are experiencing marital crises know this all too well. In fact, working with an obstinate spouse has been one gigantic lesson in ego-clinging: I know when I’m doing it, but I sure as heck know when my wife is. She’s pretty much stuck there 24/7.

So, in working with this statement this morning, I just found myself thinking it (yes, more thoughts) again and again, and prompting myself to just be at ease with whatever came up, and then to just let go even of that. But I guess I felt I really wasn’t getting the meaning of the slogan, and so therefore I went out and bought this book. The explanation was so simple: contemplation can no sooner dissect itself than can a knife cut itself, and so whatever experience or answers that might arise from contemplation simply have to be let go. This is a bizarre, but very helpful image: a knife trying to cut itself. It’s kind of like a Zen koan that deliberately throws a curve at you that provides no mental way out.

And now, at the end of the day, I’m left with just thoughts. More thoughts. Thoughts about tomorrow. Thoughts about the fact that my wife is coming to town. Thoughts about the Japanese breakfast I’m going to cook in the morning and thoughts about how I’m going to pack it up and leave it for her. Thoughts about the things I did not buy at the grocery store for her this time. Thoughts about whether my actions are enough. Thoughts about thoughts, even, like the thoughts of incredible frustration that arose as I was heading out to buy this book this evening: the frustration of feeling like I could be doing more to reconcile my marriage, when in fact I’m already doing as much as I can, and am pretty much relegated to a virtual holding pattern while the affair winds down.

Enough thoughts for today. Tonight, I’ll let my subconscious produce those thoughts for me in the form of dreams. Maybe something interesting will come up. You just never know; but, when you dream, you have to let go.

A New Look for the New Year

The lunar new year came and went this past week. In my spiritual tradition (Vajrayana Buddhism), we observe the lunar new year, which this year occurred on February 11th.  The lunar new year is considered an important marker that functions in a couple of ways. First, it is said that, in the 10 days prior to to the new year, all of the negative karma one has collected tends to gather up and come to fruition, so it is said to be a good time to sort of lay low, generally be mindful and careful, and to devote oneself to one’s spiritual practice. These karmic “fruitionings” are called “döns” in the Tibetan tradition; a dön is basically something like a naughty spirit that hits you with unexpected surprises. I never had really considered this before, but I found myself injuring my hands quite a bit in this most recent “dön season”—nothing major, just little cuts and scratches and such, all of which happened when I wasn’t really being mindful. The other way in which the lunar new year functions is as a sort of “gate” through which one can figuratively pass, leaving behind mental clutter and negativity from the past year, with the aspiration of making a better way through life in the year to cone.

It was with this latter in mind that I entered with due diligence into the days preceding the new year, taking on some new spiritual practices (for purification), and making a renewed commitment to my practice, which had been somewhat languishing, as well as to renounce useless or unproductive behaviors and ways of thinking. Most of these center around my marriage and the crisis that has been ongoing within it over the past 15 months or so. I came to realize that I simply had been holding much too tightly to my desired outcomes, and had to just be okay with whatever needs to happen, and to allow that to unfold on its own, and at its own pace.

One of the first things I did was to thoroughly clean the house, and then begin to rearrange furniture. My wife was always an avid feng shui practitioner, and in fact I helped her to develop her interests and skills, buying her her first feng shui book nearly nine years ago. All those books went with her when she moved out, so I had to do some research of my own. What I found out was kind of shocking.

The first room I decided to rearrange was the bedroom. This room is longer than it is wide; however, we had the bed oriented along the narrowest dimension, crowding the available space. Researching my personal kua number, I found that the bed had been oriented in the worst possible direction—for me. For my wife, it was okay, but for me, I was sleeping in the worst possible direction. I moved the bed around to face my optimal direction (the crown of one’s head should point in this optimal direction, so if that direction is north, then the headboard will be along the center of the north wall), and two things happened. First, there suddenly was a large amount of available space that could be used for other purposes. Second, there was a palpable shift in the room’s energy, and this has since made s notable shift in my sleep patterns and overall well-being.

I have more research to do, and will be starting to work on the other rooms of the house, as well as undertaking some more general remedies that have to do with our house location and environment.

One other change has been the appearance of this blog: I’m shifting toward a more text-based, minimal theme for this site, and have been experimenting with various layouts. I’m not quite done with this yet, but for now, things will probably stay as they are for another week or two.

Rather coincidentally, the lunar new year also happened to fall on the day for which my wife’s import application for the dog (i.e. to take her overseas) would expire. As I wrote in my last post, she had asked me to get a rabies titer for the dog, so that she could clear quarantine quickly. I had proactively booked an appointment with the vet, but was reluctant to go through with it—the cost was rather exorbitant—without speaking to her about it.

She refused to call, of course. However, the day before the scheduled appointment, I received an email from the quarantine service overseas (I’m not sure my wife was aware that I was routinely being CC’ed on these by that office) stating that the application had been canceled. So, I forwarded this email to my wife, and asked her to explain, and that, absent some valid explanation for continuing with the titer, I’d cancel the appointment.

A series of rather sheepish emails followed, in which she told me that she had been too late in trying to get that process going, and that we essentially did not need the test. She admitted that she had no plans to take the dog overseas in the foreseeable future. So, I canceled the appointment, and told her she could contact me to discuss.

She did not.

We were supposed to meet mid-week to discuss our tax situation, and since she had originally requested to see me for this purpose, I asked her to call me to arrange that meeting.

She did not. Gosh, you’d think I’m getting stonewalled here, or something.

This meeting would have happened the day before Valentine’s day, and having received the okay from the colleague to drop stuff off for my wife at her house, I stopped by that morning and left her some breakfast. She had not yet arrived, when I swung by; it was quite convenient for me, as it was on the way to a couple of errands I had to run that morning. I thought it appropriate that the first thing my wife sees upon returning to town to be something from me. This gesture was, quite predictably, met with silence—no acknowledgement whatsoever—even though I know she received it.

The rest of my week was occupied with work, work, work. I have been extremely busy of late, which in part explains why there have been so few posts here recently. Things will start to slow down a bit next week, so I’ll have a bit more time to muse on the situation as it now stands. Basically, we are in end-stage adultery, in which the affair’s inevitable demise is being forestalled as much as possible. I wish she or the adulterer would come to their senses a bit quicker, but this is how things go when dealing with extreme egocentrism. There is an ugly mess that is needing clean-up over there on aisle “A” (get it?), and neither of them wants to acknowledge it yet. That day of reckoning is rapidly approaching, my friends.

Prevaricating, Dissimulating, and Deceiving

The day before yesterday, I received an email from my wife. Much like her emails in recent months, this one was completely unprovoked and came out of the blue.

In this email, she began by asking me if I would take the dog to the vet to get a rabies titer for her. We have needed this test done in the past, as we took our dog with us on one occasion on a trip overseas. In order for her to pass quarantine, a titer needed to be done to ensure that her rabies antibodies level was sufficiently high. We did this in 2007, but then did not revisit the situation until four years later.

In 2011, my wife and I were considering moving to Japan, and this would have obligated us to bring the dog along, and again to get the appropriate documents to pass quarantine. We learned at that time that we had allowed our dog’s rabies vaccine to expire by just five days, and that the dog would have a 180-day waiting period after being vaccinated before she could enter the country. This quashed my wife’s desire to move: even though I told her that we could easily find a solution, she told me, very tearfully, that the thought of leaving her dog behind — even for just a short period of time — was just heartbreaking for her. This thought has significance right now, if not for her, then certainly for me.

After this initial request, she went into business mode, and told me she wanted to see me to discuss taxes. She said she’d bring her paperwork along so I could do our tax return. Well, I’m not ready to do that yet, as I’ve got a number of forms that still have not arrived. She then told me that she planned to close her accounts at our bank once we take care of this “mess” (as she quite curiously called it). There’s no ostensibly good reason for her to tell me this: if she wanted to do that, she could just go ahead and do it. She also asked me to shut down her cell phone, since she’s not using it, and to close down her website which she also is not updating. There was also a brief discussion of some financials that need settling, the details of which she clearly did not understand.

To conclude, she told me that the colleague she was staying with was having a hard time receiving things from me to pass along to her, and she asked me to stop leaving parcels and such with her. She claimed that she wanted to avoid uncomfortable situations with this colleague.

At this point, I smelled a rat. I have had a number of communications with this colleague, and they have all been positive and supportive. Moreover, this colleague had openly expressed to me that she hoped my wife and I could work things out, and that she would be happy to help out in any way she could.

So what changed? That is what I decided to find out.

I contacted the colleague and asked if I could come speak to her in person. She agreed, and the night before last I went over to her house. I brought a small gift (just some food I’d cooked, since this woman does not really cook and eats very little), and we sat in the kitchen and began to talk. After some initial pleasantries, I told her that I had come to see her because I felt the need to express regret for the burden my marital crisis seemed to be placing on her. I expressed the desire to apologize for any discomfort, but told her that I really did not know how to effectively apologize, since I did not know how she felt about any of this.

She seemed a bit baffled, and assured me that she felt no burden whatsoever. She said she felt touched by my efforts, but at the same time rather confused: my wife appeared so certain, according to her, as though here mind were totally made up, and all she had to do from this point on would be to figure out how to settle outstanding matters. She said that she thought the gifts and things I had left for my wife were beautiful and genuinely touching, but said that my wife appeared not to appreciate them at all.

This is typical, folks. The obstinate spouse gets very annoyed with attempts to rewrite their history of the marriage, and they get really frustrated when those attempts begin to have their desired effect. In fact, they start to get desperate.

The colleague then had some questions for me, but as these were getting into the realm of privacy (i.e. my marriage) I told her that I could not really give details. I did at one point tell her a story — which I believe I have yet to relate here — about an old acquaintance who committed adultery over the past year and a half, and how that affair finally, and quite predictably, blew up. She was curious about marital dynamics and statistics, and said that she knew that second marriages were more likely to end in divorce than first marriages, but that she had heard that third marriages were likely more successful than first marriages. (This seemed odd to me, and I suspected she might have heard this from my wife, as the adulterer has already had two failed marriages, and he might have been trying to mislead my wife by suggesting that third marriages somehow have an optimistically realistic shot at survival.) I let her know that, in reality, the likelihood of a third marriage surviving was only 15%; she seemed a bit shocked by this revelation. I also filled her in on the typical causes for marital disintegrations, and she asked me about statistics on affairs. Again, she was surprised to hear that virtually all affairs end, and normally do so in two years or less. She actually seemed rather encouraged to hear that news, and I can only guess why.

The colleague then assured me that I was welcome at her home at any time, and further offered me the use of her basement apartment (where my wife stays on Wednesdays) were I to need it at some point in the future, e.g. for visiting relatives. She told me that she really misses my wife and me as a married couple, and had always thought we were truly happy together; for that reason, she seemed very shocked when she initially learned of our crisis and my wife’s immoral agenda. She told me that she really hopes we will reconcile, and said she did not want to feel like she is taking sides. I assured her that she should feel no obligation whatsoever to take sides, and that if she were to hold that aspiration in her heart, that would be sufficient.

So, all in all, it was a positive meeting, with a very positive outcome.

I also learned where my wife is at right now. She is prevaricating and dissembling, and trying to prolong the inevitable end of a horridly flawed relationship that started from a terrible error in judgment. She plunged herself headlong down a dead-end path 15 months ago, and is now racing toward the brick wall that is at its end. It’s as if she’s driving a bus right toward that wall at 100 miles per hour, and the passengers now are shouting at her to slow down and change course. To spite them all, she is shouting back that there is no wall up ahead, and is leaning even harder on the gas pedal.

This is craziness, of course, and has only one outcome: destruction. She will hit that wall, and she will hit it hard.  There is a price to be paid for mistakes like these, and that price is significant, both for the transgressor and the party who was willingly transgressed. There is no happy endings to affairs, and no “they lived happily ever after” that gets appended to such sagas. There is only heartbreak, embarrassment, humiliation, and, hopefully, humility.

There’s a big piece of humble pie on the kitchen counter at home. There’s also a big piece at her parents’ home, and at the homes of my family, as well as at those of her friends and colleagues. She’ll have to eat each and every piece, of course, but I’m going to try my best to minimize the unpleasantness of that experience when the time comes for that to happen.