Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star. – Henry David Thoreau
I am an old soul.
I weep at the beauty of woodland paths,
of slanted sunbeams breaking through autumn canopies,
and falling, twirling, dancing leaves of red, orange, yellow and brown.
I love this world.
And my existence.
The animals in the forest,
I know they are there. And that suffices.
The trees, the streams, the moss wreathing jutting rocks of granite.
Birds. Deer. Mice.
Insects and worms and peeping frogs.
Paths. Worn, fresh, or to be made.
The breeze. Wind and rain and sleet.
Gently softly falling snow.
Flowers and grass and reeds and the call of the blackbird in the swamp.
The distant ovenbird and piercing screech of the hawk.
Fences, new and broken. Barbed-wire tacked to ancient trees overgrown by gnarled trunks.
Passing days and months and years.
The ticking clock on lazy Sunday afternoons curled up warmly in the silent comfort of Grandma’s house.
Feeling safe. Secured. Loved. Complete.
I am an old soul.
There are words to capture how I feel,
I have lowered my caloric intake to zero
To discover what they are.
My mind and body are one,
Starving for nourishment,
Twisting into hungry knots.
What matters in this state?
This life is all I get,
And I fill it with emptiness;
Cardboard cutouts of complex carbohydrates,
And two-dimensional emotions.
In this hunger, there is clarity,
Moments and seconds filled with epiphany,
The animal, the rock, the clouded sky,
Atoms carrying wind whipping my shaven face,
Making it clean.
I have cried twenty kilos of thought and emotion and soaked the parched ground of my soul.
To bring me back into harmony with this universe,
To nurture and let grow the blissful blossoms of my heart,
Opening optimistic avenues awaiting exploration,
I carry lightness and vitality and strength and
Born into this world alone,
Alone I shall die.
I forgive you.
I forgive myself.
It is slowing down.
The letters, the words,
only now a trickle.
A sign of change.
Healing, optimism? Or the opposite:
This….this is my life.
This is my life?
Someone, oh someone pick me up!
Bathe and clothe and nurture me.
Point the way, or better yet, take me there.
Oh, someone please pick me up!
(I scream into the Abyss and only I can hear).
I have shed a million tears. And I am still right here.
I only move if you push me.
I will shed a million more. Fill this room to overflowing.
And I will not swim.
And I will sink.
And I will be right here.
Stop that grasping,
and just let it go.
I don’t exist,
and never have.
This body, this mind,
these cells of bone, muscle, nerves and skin.
I am an illusion,
emerging from a neural network,
unifying through gross abstraction,
these multiple, interacting, embedded parts.
I am and I am not.
I am here, but I am elsewhere.
I feel anger, but simultaneous joy; pessimism and optimism; strength and weakness. I am both heavy and light.
These are no mere metaphors,
turns of phrase,
figures of speech.
In no way am I speaking in analogy; it is not as if I don’t exist; it is not as if I am multiple yet one; it is not as if I speak to myself across infinitesimal chasms in my mind.
‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘myself’, as descriptors, do not suffice.
There exists no single point, no central hub, no captain’s chair, where I take the helm and direct the show. But instead, there is system and sub-system feeding into itself and into the other; system within system of inter-networked biochemistry and electrical spikes. The sense, the illusion of self emerging from this near infinite complexity and potential.
Stop that grasping, that clinging, that clutching, that hoarding;
Stop that pining, that longing, that needing, that demanding;
Stop that storytelling, that narrating, that ascribing, that moralizing;
and let the illusion go.
Words do not suffice.
Let it go.
Outside a café by the central bus station.
Wasps. A gentle breeze stalling their forward propulsion. They hover, drawn to the foamed milk and cocoa powder topping my cappuccino.
Enlightening places: central transportation hubs. A congregation of humanity’s diversity: addicts; homeless; drunkards clasping and gulping bottles of warm beer; schoolkids travelling home from school; workers in dirty work pants and black heavy-soled boots; housewives pushing carriages of napping babies; immigrants from the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe; bikers and walkers and taxi-cab drivers; old retirees in white Velcro sneakers and dated threadbare dress pants and sport jackets; the low, the lower middle, the middle classes; the working classes; students; artists; the down-trodden; the hopeful; the resigned. All jostling, vibrating, moving lives and lifetimes, stories, criss-crossing, weaving paths back and forth and back again on the concrete canvas.
And me. Another node of carbon-based molecules connected by infinite invisible threads to the world around. Inhaling. Exhaling. Respiring the same gas as the drug-addict missing her two front teeth; as the Arab hairdresser speaking a strange tongue to a friend on the threshold of his shop. Shooing wasps from my drink. Smiling inwardly at the too-fat pigeon waddling underfoot for crumbs.
A crippled man passes. The click-clack of a cane. And a woman on an old cellular phone.
Here’s one with cigarette in hand, shawl wrapped warmly, multi-coloured polyester handbag fit snugly into elbow’s crook, texting all the while, as she pauses briefly at my table, puts her bag – still looped over her texting arm – down on the seat, cigarette pressed between lips, and rummages through.
Do they know? Do they know I see them? I really observe them? I study them? I think of them? I remember them? For now. For today. And perhaps longer still. Do they know, they have become a part of me?
Now two ancient nodes have joined my table. Prehistoric lovers. His teeth perfectly pearly white. She wearing rouge on her once flawlessly beautiful, now wrinkled, and still beautiful cheeks. Wedding rings. Umbrellas. He making jokes. She barely smiling, barely giving an inch, but still giving that inch: yes, she’s heard them all before. Two ancient prehistoric lovers.
The pigeon waddles past. The breeze becoming a wind forces the hovering wasps to the eaves. Overhead a flock of city birds circles. Rested, the two stand, hand in hand, and depart.
Twenty-four fountains. Spitting vertical spouts of clear water a foot high. Each stream pulled down on itself by gravity; unfurling liquid ferns held together by surface tension. At the tip of each transparent crystal frond quickly accelerating towards Earth’s center, fracturing and division as multiple single droplets break free; the droplets pit patting, pit patting, pit…pit…patting, the grey concrete paving stones. Tapping out a plot, a rhythm rich in meaning, just for me.
Twenty-four transient translucent authors, communicating amidst the jostling bustling hive of unaware humanity. Secretly, just to me.
There a seed, and a little tree. There a brook, and rolling rocks. I see sky and birds and fluttering monarchs. I hear the field frog sing. There, moths circle the light, and congregate around the bulb, while dusk brings the chorus of crickets to life.
I rest my feet in the coolness of the lake and watch as the fish, like shadows of airplanes, soar beneath.
Not only in the air can one fly.
This world is as deep, and as lovely, as her eyes.
I crave the morn. The crystal dew on the petals of an opening rose. The dripping drops of water from the thorns – a ladder of leaking faucets.
There is a comfort to the sun’s early slanting rays; they cast a warm and magical spell. Belief in rebirth; that first draught of fresh clean air; awe, and to be filled with optimistic confidence – these are the gifts of rising with our morning star.
Rest moon, rest.
You’ll be here longer than I.
It is my time,
My time moon,
It is my time to shine.
Sink to your hole in the sea and close those cavernous eyes,
And remember when the sun and I go to bed,
It will be your time to rise.
Sing me softly to sleep life,
Let all my dreams drip into days,
Let love and joy fill me life,
Till death takes me gently away.
Sing me softly to sleep life,
And never let me wake.
Climbing rocks into the bowels of sky,
Ahoy! Ahoy, silent sailing voluminous fleets!
Black trees balance here their swirled tops to dizziness,
And I, sweat and dry, clinging the granular Death,
Gripping nails the twisted root,
Achieve a tiny ledge, a respite spot to lie.
Almighty Life! Almighty, Mighty Life! Inside I cry.
I, this immense mountain and sky!
An eagle level in my sight, his emperor screech,
Soars up feathered beast the wind-draft face.
Off below a big valley winds like a snake.
Wide mouth cupped, I hollered, ‘Who am I?’
And came, as from another place, ‘Who am I?’
‘Who am I?’
To somewhere gone, beyond my reach.