Wednesday, November 17, 2010

“The Contemplator” by Eugène Carrière

I had a dream one night that I turned into a star. I spent my time glowing and whirling in space, dancing like I hadn’t danced since I was six, when I had my special twirling skirts. They had to go through a rigorous test of twirling ability in the stores before I gave my mom the nod of approval to purchase. The hours went by full of giggling and laughing with the other stars by my side. There were hundreds of us, no thousands. And we all had the most glorious time. Telling stories of our travels, our past lives, the things we’d seen from our special view up in the highest heights of the heavens. And yet time stood still as we twirled, since we weren’t depending on the sun to tell us when to begin and when to go to bed. We could spin and twirl and giggle and play as much as we should desire. A few of the rambunctious stars would have races and go whizzing by leaving nothing but the merest trail behind. The moon read us poems and the sun told us jokes. And oh! The things I saw from up there!

I saw the colors the Earth turns with the beginning of each new day and I saw the sky paintings from the moon when he would come and take his place on the stage. I saw the shapes the clouds would make, playing their own version of charades with us stars. And I could see the dolphins dancing, too. We in our heavens, they in their oceans. Playing with hearts light as a feather.

But the heartache I saw! Not in the heavens. Somehow the stars all get along. There is plenty of space there, but no one need ever be lonely or alone. There are always friends and somehow distance is very different there. There are no houses or walls. No fences or barriers. The suns arms can reach wherever they should pleace and there is no disappointment or need for alarm. There are no possessions and no need for possessions. No the heavens have no heartache, but for the heartache they see the humans make. The heartache they can see down on the Earth. There is noise made from construction as people seek to close themselves off from each other. And there is noise from the destruction as people seek to be alone with those who are alike. And there is so much darkness. The sun cannot go wherever it chooses, but only wherever people allow it. And there are clouds of black and brown, carrying in them not the healing and rejuvenating powers of rain and water, but the hurtful powers of carcinogens and pollution. If they do not seek to destroy others, they seek to destroy themselves. Power is all people want. Power over others. Power against others. Power over themselves. There is no freedom. There is so little joy. So many tears. So much crying. So little laughing. The sun doesn’t tell them jokes. She used to. People used to understand the words of the sun. They would laugh and play together until it was time for her to go away and for the moon to read them poetry. But now they don’t understand the sun’s words when she speaks. They sound like sirens and burn like a fire. People now must seek to protect themselves from her embrace, they do not remember the days when her touch was gentle and welcome. And the moon’s poems cannot be heard either. Every night he would write for them a new poem, about magic and hope. But now they only hear rumors and confusion and witchcraft. He still reads to them, but his voice grows softer and more feebler each night they don’t listen. So he reads to us. We hear him. And we like him, too. And he likes us.

And together we all laugh and dance and speak. There is no heartache up here. Even when a fellow star has lived and spun for a long long time, and he gets tired and finds he can spin no more, we do not cry and we do not mourn. We continue spinning. And so does he. He dons his finest glow and spins his fastest spin until he cannot hold himself together anymore and his joy in his life causes him to explode in beauty. Sometimes his explosion is so big, for he has had so much joy that it consumes that which is all around in. People are afraid of death. They are afraid to stop spinning. But it is not a bad thing. It is a joyous occasion. To go out glowing and bright and beautiful and then to rest, knowing one has spun every spin one has to spin. And to be consumed by someone else’s explosion is not scary. You have merely come to the end of your own spins as well. You will both get to rest together.

People don’t understand anymore. I think they used to understand. A long, long time ago. They would walk together and laugh and they would spin and dance, too. And they would tell jokes with the sun and read poetry with the moon and they would sing songs with the wind and they would dance with the rain and paint with the flowers. But they don’t do any of that anymore. Not very many of them, do, anyway. Sometimes a person will begin to understand. Sometimes a person comes along who hears the jokes of the sun and understands. Or hears the poetry of the moon and is consoled. Sometimes a person comes along who remembers what it used to be like. And when that happens, the stars spin a little faster and glow a little brighter and the sun’s jokes are a little funnier and the moon’s poetry a little deeper.

That night I was a star made me see so much. But soon the sun reminded me that I was not born to be a star. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t allowed to spin. In my own way, in my own space, in my own world. So I waved goodbye to my friends the spinning stars, and I told the sun one last joke and the moon read me one last poem and I returned to my bed, where I awoke the next morning and started my day with my very best twirling skirt.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Morning after the Deluge

It's November again. Which means it's time for NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month) I did this last year and I'm doing it again this year. Here's my plan: Take the adage "A picture's worth a thousand words" at face value. I'm taking 50 paintings/photographs and writing 1,000 words for each. (Give or take a few, because I'm just not that exact.) Here's what I wrote for today. This is totally raw and unedited. Don't judge. Just enjoy!

“The Morning after the Deluge” Joseph Mallord William Turner


The stern arms of the sun had reached the Earth, but one wouldn’t know for all the dust remaining in the air – suspended by some force made visible by those particles it now held firmly in place, preventing a clear image of anything from being formed.

I suppose we should have expected this sort of reaction. He had said we would die. This must be death, this lack of clarity. Nothing can be seen, everything seems to be a trick of the eye. Nothing can be heard, all is silent, and it is deafening. Nothing can be felt, except the utter loneliness. There is no air to breath. Only dust. Only brown.

Madness swirls around me, closing in, threatening the death I seem to have survived. But only just barely.

The funny thing is, just before this all happened – this explosion, this collapse – everything had actually become so very clear. I knew things I had never known before. I knew black. And I knew white. Now I seem to only know brown. I knew there was such a thing as choice. And that with choice came a right and a wrong. There was a choice I should make. And there was a choice I should not make. But I only knew this by making the choice I should not have made. Funny isn’t it? Only I’m not laughing. No one is laughing. There is no one left to laugh. But there were only three of us to begin with. Or were there four? Whatever the answer, now there is only me. And maybe Her. I hope there is still Her. It would be hard to go back to being just me again. Jackasses make terrible company. But I suppose they’re better than nothing. Where is she? Could she have died, too? Died the way I have? Or is she gone? Forever. Further and deeper than I can imagine because the fault was hers? She was the first to choose. She was the first to listen to that voice. To that fourth. To that uninvited guest. She was the first to see. To know. To feel. To die.

But I was her caretaker. I was her guardian. I let her out of my sight. I let her go too far. I let her go by herself. But was I to keep her by my side all the time? There was so much she wanted to know. That she wanted to know for herself. That I couldn’t teach her nearly as well as she could learn on her own. Should I have chained her to me? Denied her the knowledge? Now there is no knowledge denied to us. And this knowledge has become our chains. Our chains to the Earth. To the dirt.

I am chained to the dirt now. I shall depend on it. I shall offer it all of myself. And if it finds me worthy, it shall reward me. I will sow the seeds of my soul. Of my being. And I will reap the harvest of my survival. My existence.

And I will know what it means to hurt. And I will know what these muscles are for. And I will know what it means to hunger.

And I will know what it means to rest. And I will know what these muscles were made for. And I will know what it means to be satisfied … for a time.

The dust will settle. The world will not always be brown. Not forever. The sun will win the war. All shall be made clear again. Nothing has really changed. And nothing will ever be the same again, but it will be restored.

I will find her. And we will start anew. Both of us this time. Together. No longer alone, but one. We two will be one. We two will go forth from this moment and we two will never look back to what was. Because what was can never be again, but it must be. Everything is being remade every day. And it always will be. We two will never be the same, but we will always be we two.

From here we go on. There will be danger around every corner. There will be confusion and uncertainty. It will be exactly the opposite of what we were seeking and exactly what we asked for. We will know the difference between Good and Evil. But we will know it only because we once had Good and we know have only Evil. But it is something. And I suppose something is better than nothing.

We now walk a dangerous rope, and the net has been removed. Every day we must step very carefully or we risk losing the little we do have. But every day that we succeed will be cause for great celebration. But the fear will exhaust us. The grand celebration we will have planned will look very much like surrender to the evening sun and her sister stars. And in that surrender we shall remember what we once had and we shall feebly hope to have it once again before our eyes close.

And should they be opened anew, we two will once again walk, and ask, and seek, and work. We will talk and eat and cry and maybe laugh. We will fear. And we will learn. And we will love. For that’s all we have left now. We two. I will have her. She will have me. And we have we. And that’s how it will have to be. We have never been here before, but we will come to know this place as home. A modest, imperfect, passable place. A mere shadow of what was and we hope will be again. But if it’s not, we’ll make of it what we can. After all is said and done, perhaps the end really is only the beginning. I will wipe the dust from my eyes and step forward into the world that remains.