The only way out is in.

Junot Diaz, in The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Woo

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Jim had these conflicts with Grace so many times before.  Why had he not seen the pattern in all his years with her?  She lacks ease, and what her name implies.  She’d rather contention to tranquility.

Another conflict.  She seemed unable to be peaceful, yet – of course – her family was broken, led by a father who had successfully dictated to all her siblings, each lost and confused in the northern woods where retreats were less likely while tyrannical rule was easily imposed on small children.  His disordered dominance could be sewn into them. Such is the way of small men, their achievement at the price of others.

Ah, but she was his one escapee.  This, at first blush, attracted Jim.  Yet, he realized over time that her escape was merely withdrawal, a way to a defensive perimeter, a place to store her anger, to ward off intrusion, even him.

He remembered his brother David’s words.  David saw so much clearer than he did, heard so much more in the simple words of others.

Unlike his brother, Jim could not read the slope or tilt of another’s body, let another’s eyes and face explain and amplify their words, reveal their full meaning.

Ah, she fled.  She told him this many times.  But he did not see that she could do nothing but flee, that the former invasion left her in exile far, far from introspection, self-examination, knowledge of herself.

Then his brother’s words: Those you cannot examine themselves can never give to you anything but confusion, doubt, contention, aggression in all its forms.

Now he knew – as Diaz had written, as Merton said too – “the only way out is in.”

For her, no peace.  For him no human contact, just constant flight of a butterfly behind a barricade.

He turned to silence, to quiet … all that is without is reached from within.

Shalom.

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