the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Finding Nirvana

Editor’s Note: Dear Reader, I know there is no need for me to ask your permission or apologize for what I do on my own blog, but I am who I am, so sue me. I have NO IDEA what I am doing on my blog this month, ever since my birthday. Mid-life crisis maybe? I’m just writing, with little editing or thought. I’m in a bit of a state at the moment. So, instead of falling apart in real life, I am trying to manage my life while going a little bonkers on my blog. If you are a troll, fuck you, but if you are a friend who feels the urge to make fun of the pretentious nature of my posts, feel free to mock away in a friendly way. I always make fun of you on your blogs. Fair is fair. I am enjoying playing with “earnest” writing, something that is not my usual cup of tea. Unlike some of you wimps, I am not afraid of failing on my blog. I am quite proud of that, actually. And besides, there is something personal that I am trying to express here. I’m just not sure what it is as of yet. I really appreciate you reading this, knowing that it isn’t particularly entertaining, or even good, and might be as painful for you to read as my eighth grade poetry. But it is therapeutic.



I re-write over and over again, trying to strip away the excess fat, in the misguided attempt to reach some point of pure honesty, to catch a glimpse of my soul, or the face of God, thinking it the ultimate goal of writing, not the mere use of words, pedestrian tools found in any magician’s bag, used for manipulation. So I was completely shocked that, while writing in a black and white notebook, I reached that point of complete emptiness that few every see. It was a 7:45PM EST. It was as if I walked through a golden light that went from paper to pen to soul, and transported me into a zen retreat on a silent moutaintop. But rather than feeling ecstasy or a sense of wholeness, I felt alone, even with the bright colors of the rainbow sky surrounding me. This is not who I am, where I belong, born to a Jewish family from New York who love the hearty stories told that fill the thick air, like letters emanating from the Torah. I turned back. I love the earth, the senses, and the illogic of everything real. I respect the solitude of nirvana. I am impressed that I came this close to knowing it. I feel older now, more experienced with life. But I would be crushed under the weight of NOTHING. I returned to immediately make a joke about the food in nirvana’s cafeteria, just to comfort me like a goose-down blanket. Back to writing.


(for BHJ)


  1. Backpacking Dad

    Okay, since you are earnest today, and I suspect you appreciate feedback on something more than the sentiment of the post, I have one criticism for you.

    Blah blah blah, grain of salt, blah blah blah, I’m not a writer, blah blah blah, you know.

    The “stripping the fat” metaphor for the process of re-writing doesn’t sit well in my head. Unless all you do in a rewrite is carve your intention from a mass of good words that you have in front of you, I don’t think it’s apt. There’s too much removal, not enough re-creation, in the act of stripping fat.

    Normally I’m not a writing critic, but you seem to want it real feedback right now.

    • Neil

      Wow, you don’t know how exciting it was to get writing criticism from you. Seriously. That someone actually read this and said — nah, that doesn’t work — that was very touching. Seriously. Even if I never bother to rewrite it. I learned something. That’s nirvana.

  2. A Vapid Blonde

    From a very inexperienced blogger, there are those of you who need not aplogize. You are one of them.

    But, from a very inexperienced blogger I can say the need to apologize is overwhelming at times, especially if you are stepping out of the mold you’ve made for your self. Which is what I have done for the past two weeks. So apologize I did for the first post and the second I just lost some readers. Or a lot. But like you said, fuck ’em.

    I have been feeling at a loss for written words. Or any words. And it doesn’t make me happy.

  3. BHJ

    Humility Alert. Everyone step back. Neil. I would never dare to assume that I even dipped my toe in the experience of nirvana. Okay. Done being humble.

    So, even though I appreciate your attempts at being earnest (and gifting the piece to me. Thank you!), I think it’s a touch arrogant to suggest that you reached Buddhism’s pinnacle and rejected it.

    I will say from a purely intellectual, not experiential, understanding of enlightenment, that it entails a clear recognition that there is, ultimately, no such creature as a self who abides from moment to moment. It follows, then, that no one remains to feel lonely.

    Enjoy your process of falling apart, Neil. It’s really the only way to be.

    • Neil

      Thanks. Trying to be a little more arrogant nowadays.

  4. unmitigated me

    It’s like trying to drive on Route 66. Parts of it aren’t there anymore, and you just have to make do. There can still be golden moments of clarity, even if it’s not where you expect.

  5. Michele

    There’s nothing like a knee-jerk reaction to remind you who you really are. Spew all you want, Neil. We’ll hang around to support you – and to see what happens next.

  6. Danny

    From Day 1 I have always admired the risks you’re willing to take on your blog and all of the writing forms you play with. You use the medium to its fullest from what you call your “earnest” self all the way to your talking penis. It’s inspiring and I hope you never stop blogging.

  7. Daren

    Hey Neil.

    I find having a hobby to write about gets me past those unsettling moments of ‘what the hell am I doing here’? Of course, my life’s not that interesting and I would never be as intrepid as you are to go that deep into self. I’d be terrified of what I’d discover. Or, more honestly, the lack of anything I wouldn’t discover… Yeah, you try and parse that grammar.

  8. Irish Gumbo

    I thought I obtained Nirvana once…turns out it was because I forgot to return “Nevermind” to the friend who lent it to me. (grin)

    And, it just takes a few listens to get used to it, so I keep listening, you know?

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