Today, I spent most of the day reading and writing. The writing was labourous at first. It was a chipping away for a while, then a crack, then a generous delta. I celebrated the coolness of it against my neurons. How much a gift to take that feeling in the chest, mold it, and sing it into a poem or work of art. It doesn’t always come easy, and sometimes, the best dirt-beds for those feelings vanish, are shy, and leave before you can articulate them. But I have come to find that those are the most fertile moments and must be sought out in the only place to find them–among the living.
While it can be very tempting to spend the majority of the time at the desk or place-of-making, what is most important is to live. It has taken me a long time to really understand this lesson.
Last night, something of-growth happened to me. Though I will try to articulate the event(s), I know that by their very nature, they are word-less–resistant to explanation.
Often when I’m trying to make-something of the pressing weight on my chest, or the flow of feeling throughout my body, I forget from where they were first born, nourished. I think I caught a glimpse of that birth-place last night.
I took a moment, a very clear, beautiful moment and thought, “why not own this fully? Why be scared of taking it into my body and ENJOYING it?”
Someone’s body was close. I held out my hand. Have you ever noticed the soft down, how it feels like a field of wheat against the skin, mouth? I thought, maybe God loves the world this way. In one second to another, I felt as though I was outside-looking-in on my own body and someone else’s body.
I remember as a child how astonished I felt looking at the sun set over the flatlands of my home in West Texas. Dirt softly floated to a higher plane than where it belonged, having faith in the wind, and not mourning the ground, and in their bits-of-joy, the dust helped dress the sunset in the most gorgeous variations of red, orange, gold. Something more distant held out its hand as a light blue, then darker, above it, leading to faintest-idea of stars. The ground, flat, generous, and wide, let me gaze further than I should. How I miss the feeling my body would have–as though yearning to stretch beyond its own limits like the mesquite, multiplied.
This is how I felt when I really looked at an other body.
Why not own this moment? I thought.
I knew I had to drive home, and suddenly, the thought that I could be taken. Any second, I could be broken out of my body and taken from this plane to another. When someone really sinks their teeth into this inevitable end everyone will someday face, they could be sitting in a park bench with a friend, in bed with a lover, alone on a country road, or surrounded by strangers on a late-night train, and anyone, anything around them, could be their closest companion–their longest friend. Because in that moment, that’s all there is. In the last-moment, there is no other birth. You are no one else / with no one else.
I drove home, remembering the skin, the hair-field of the last person I saw’s body, and said, Thank you God. I didn’t know why, but the gratitude of that fleeting moment of seeing-how-things-truly are, when I never take time to see them most days, was the most bitter-sweet blessing I have felt in a long time, if ever.
That is the birthing ground of what moves through me, settles, stirs, hears a call, and flies out the top of my head when I write, chant, want.
What’s interesting about this is that the moment wasn’t just a gift of joy or understanding. It carried a weight of anxiety, like everything else.
All day today, I remembered the looking-into of last night and felt a dark side of panic wiggle its body out of a dark mud and bear its teeth.
I guess it’s because, when something Other and magnificent is given to us, we don’t want to acknowledge its eventual slipping-away. The slipping-away could be the next moment (though ghostly revisiting us when we recall, recall) or, it could be the passing away of a loved one, a dissipation of inspiration–whatever it is, though we learn to own it, accept it, appreciate and know we deserve it, we want to KEEP it. Hold on to things.
But I thought, I thought, what made it so sweet was precisely the knowing that it could not last. And that I would pass.
And so I kissed it, cherished it, let it go.
If the same returns, or if another-like-it presents itself to me–a poem, a burst of inspiration, a lover, my lover, my God, a voice, I will try, harder and harder, to just let things come, let things go. Be humble to The Gift.