The dream is unobtrusive, glowing where no one can see it, following beside me but deep in the ground, visible only by looking straight down through the center of myself, from the inside of my senses. It’s a thought immune to the semi-annual dental check-ups, the unsolicited catalogs that arrive in the mail, the bouts of automotive repair and immune system reconfiguration, and the dangerous lines of cars queueing behind plow trucks that plod along flashing orange in the night.
It’s a feeling about the way one post transforms into the next. Words are enfolded into vision, and encounters into awareness. Moments steep within moments, fractals of hope, and we spill open again and again into an uncut silence. We pick up the words we find, clean them off, and try to put them in order. These gifts. We gather speed, and momentum. We wonder. We shake and we threaten to come apart. One thought transforms into the next– spinning, whirling. Trees watch us whip past, until the wheels leave the ground. Until the last rope is cut free and thrown back to shore. Until forever is the whistle in our ears.
As kids we ran in the park, with our arms out beside us, thinking of this flight. We ran and ran, stumbling over uncut grass and sunken pockets in the soil, until we came to the railing. The sky didn’t stop at the railing, but we did. We did and something else didn’t. It kept going. Going and going and going, until we looked away. And then we ran again, down the path this time, with our arms out beside us, filled by our memories of everything else.
I read a book once from the library. A history book. It had a story about a small group of people, a small village’s worth maybe, that went down to a lake and remembered how much they loved one another. I don’t know what they did, if they were silent or if they spoke. The book called it a ceremony. But that just means an opening. A time for powers to intersect and draw near. I don’t know if they sat by the lake and remembered specific things together, or if they took turns talking about things inside of them they couldn’t understand. Or if they even talked at all. One of them had a name with the word Kettle in it, I think. I could be wrong. It was a translation. A historian’s name. There’s an assumption that one word can equal another, and bring everything about the first word along with it. I don’t know if you can do that or not. And the story went that for a window of time, none of the soldiers’ bullets could touch them. They stood together by the lake and couldn’t be harmed. That’s what the history book said, from the academic library.
You don’t hear about power like that so much these days. It’s a little taboo. To think we’re so close to the unexpected. To think it could interrupt our regularly scheduled programming at any moment. It’s frightening. Do we really live our lives in such proximity to a power of particularity and need? A non-conforming power. A hidden power. Power that strikes swift and total in a single fragment of space and time, and then is gone forever. Power that invents the rules as it goes.
All our power now comes from systems and structures and codification. It has to be beta tested. It has be considered– its up sides and its down’s. It has to comply with the rules that have been accepted before. All our power now is powerlessness that’s gotten organized.
But if you think about it, life is the story of pan flashes. A gene or two went AWOL, and now we can see. Sight wasn’t there in the beginning. Boundaries had to be broken for that to happen. The past has to be transcended. Life never really pays all that much attention to what has been, does it? It just folds it into itself, and responds to it the way movement responds to movement. But what is Life responding to? This is the kicker– the thought in the ground following me around. Our modern talent is knowing what we’re responding to. We are reasoned. We must be. It’s the promise we made to one another.
When we decided to make this world in our image, and then made up the image too, we lost our way a bit. Now we do things the hard way. With reasons and precedents. With indictments and proceedings. With influence and sway. It takes four miles of walking to equal one mile.
Then you think how much beauty Nature offers, on such a limited budget. It’s nothing really but starlight and gravity. Gravity is a millionth as strong per unit of mass as a baby’s joyful touch– her grasping of your finger, her slap of your face and arms. But it’s everywhere. From that alone– starlight and gravity– holiness echoes in all directions. The thing I find in Nature’s beauty that is so startling is the utter absence of motive. The absence of reasons. It’s what makes it real I think. All of it is just because. Because. All of it is like a power by a lake. It is immediate and unprecedented. It is a story about Love.
We have to throw our reasons back into the water, I think. Nevermind what we’ll eat for supper, or what bait worked before. Maybe those are not the fish we’re trying to catch. Maybe we need to stop seeking explanations of one another, and just let one thing tumble into the next for a few nights. Maybe we need to become free of all motive whatsoever, so that Love, weaker even than gravity and starlight, can defy the rules and gather Herself once in a while. To claim a flash of space and time as Her Own, when we least expect it. When we’re silent, and forgetful of who we used to be, and once wanted to become.