The skies are clear and the air is cold, and at some point I will get up from this desk, get dressed and go to the beach. It is one of those days that – in recollection tomorrow – will be smudged across my mind: leaving just a fraction of an hour of something meaningful -something like
squinting against sharp reflections of the late-afternoon light while watching a tern searching the foam for something to eat.
And this will be better than most days.
Later tonight E. will take a Covid test before heading offshore for another fortnight. I expect autumn will take hold in his absence. And the space between the points of the timeline of my days will stretch wide: Work. Home. Work. Home. I’ll walk the dog. Keep up the routine. And darkness will creep over the edges of the days until there is precious little light left.
Sometimes precious little is more than all the rest.
I like the smell of there having been candles – I like it sometimes best.
Because the earth is round and its path is round, we will pass by this way again, one way or another.
The darkness retreats, too . And we always miss it as well.
“I want to be such a conversation”… is what Neil Reid said about what can become of us when we witness someone else’s examination of the world (which includes one’s self), and then take those questions into our own examination of our own world.
And if one takes note of that process – could there be a richer conversation? And isn’t this really the definition of poetry?
I haven’t been making space for good conversations, and I miss them.
There are a lot of reasons I was lonely as a child. All of them were paths to books, and thus to “conversations” with people too far away to touch. Often too dead to be moved.
Though never too dead as to be fixed in regard to their significance.
If I have any faith in any thing, it is that our lives can be meaningful – and only in ways that we cannot control – and only in the sense that others will create meaning for the random juxtaposition of their lives with ours.
What is history but a series of perspectives, created by the juxtaposition of our worldviews with those of the dead? For good and for bad: heroes become villains, villains heroes.
Reading someone’s journal – someone’s story – is like meeting them in a secret forest where anything wild might breathe in your ear, might open your veins, leaving you weaker – but wiser.
“I knew that was true.” But didn’t want to face it.
Witnessing someone else’s nature is witnessing our own. It can be frightening. But it can also be reassuring in the way that the idea of life-after-death can be reassuring. Whether that is a heaven from which we look down, or atoms that create new constellations of life. Things continue without us: most likely because they were never dependent upon us in the first place.
I find that thought freeing.
I have been reading too little poetry lately. Allowing too little poetry into my life, too much social media – where conversations are almost non-existent. I have been thinking about the word social and why nothing is called “conversational media”.
Social is a descriptor for “society”, and a society is an “aggregate of individuals”. Aggregates form a consensus. And isn’t that how social media functions for the most part: not sharing, but shaming, posing, labeling, sorting, “canceling”. It is the hard work of keeping people “in line.”
I failed Social Skills 101. And to be honest, I am okay with that now. I’m okay with having been something of an urban nomad, half-hermit – an emigrant/immigrant. I am content being someone who misses the social cues that weren’t illustrated by the likes of Judy Bloom, PG Wodehouse, Anais Nin, and Stephen King. (Imagine them coming to a consensus). With good conversation, loneliness can soften into solitude. And that kind of solitude can be freeing in that one can fearlessly look outside one’s self.
I suppose one could charge a kind of narcissism in the reader who takes on the “both” roles in a conversation found in the written word. But maybe they (we) are just playing the long game: those readers having become writers who are hoping the conversation continues once they have left the world.
There is a difference between believing you have something to give the world, and believing you have something to contribute to it.
It’s worth entering a conversation on the subject.
Be humble for you are made of Earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.