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.

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