I see no pressing reason to get out of bed.
The lights are off
and it is raining
and the covers are the cave I dreamed of when I was a child.
I see no pressing reason to get out of bed.
From Greek, Zeno is derived from Zeno’s Paradox, which asks how a person can walk from one point to another if they must first carry out a series of ever-shrinking steps, + Mnemosyne, the personification of memory in Ancient Greek mythology. How can we live our lives while each passing year feels shorter than the year before?
But soon you feel the circle begin to tighten, and you realize it’s a spiral, and you’re already halfway through. As more of your day repeats itself, you begin to cast off deadweight, and feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity, the ballast of memories you hold onto, until it all seems to move under its own inertia. So even when you sit still, it feels like you’re running somewhere. And even if tomorrow you will run a little faster, and stretch your arms a little farther, you’ll still feel the seconds slipping away as you drift around the bend.
Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.
Cameron Hicks: “This was my family’s outgoing message on our answering machine from 1993 up until we got rid of our land line a few years ago. My dad wanted to save the recording of my sister, Jodie, and I as kids so he digitized it and gave it to us. I decided to animate to the recording and give it to Jodie as a birthday present. It wound up taking longer to finish than I expected so it became a Christmas present. I missed that deadline too. Nevertheless, it’s dedicated to her.”
Cam – We’re not home right now, but we’ll be back real soon.
Dad – Right, so leave your name and number and we’ll get back to ya. Thanks for calling!
Jodie – I wanna talk!
Dad – Okay.
Jodie – Goodnight.
I’m leaning back in the chair. The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.
It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.
I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.
The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade. Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things. We were in the First Grade.
He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.
Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer. [Read more…]
35° F, clear, calm.
Body parts functioning, check.
Smartphone in breast pocket, check.
ID building pass, check.
Nine minutes to first morning train, check.
I step out the door, insert key, turn, and lock the door. There’s a clop clop clop of footsteps on the street. I turn to see Runner. Male, wearing a Miner’s headlamp, his beam illuminating the road.
2003. That’s you. Up, pre dawn: 5 miles Tuesday. 7 miles Wednesday. 4 miles Friday. Hot shower. Off to work. [Read more…]
Whitman kept me from the swamps of a worse uncertainty, and I lived many hours within the lit circle of his certainty, and his bravado. Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! And there was the passion which he invested in the poems. The metaphysical curiosity! The oracular tenderness with which he viewed the world— its roughness, its differences, the stars, the spider— nothing was outside the range of his interest. I reveled in the specificity of his words. And his faith— that kept my spirit buoyant surely, though his faith was without a name that I ever heard of. Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well I have . . . for the April rain has, and the mica on the side of a rock has.
But first and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple— or a green field— a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing— an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness— wonderful as that part of it is. I learned that the poem was made not just to exist, but to speak— to be company. It was everything that was needed, when everything was needed. I remember the delicate, rumpled way into the woods, and the weight of the books in my pack. I remember the rambling, and the loafing— the wonderful days when, with Whitman, I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time.
~ Mary Oliver, from “My Friend Walt Whitman” in Upstream, Selected Essays
I run. I write. I post. In that order. With few gaps. Typically. But not Saturday. No. No. No. Disbelief. Fatigue on overdrive. Just not real.
I marinated in it for days.
And then Rilke prods: “ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: ‘must I write?’ Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity.”
So I must.
And I write.
A series of interlocking coincidences which only rose to consciousness after a replay of events played forward from daybreak.
A short reading. It was Leonard Bernstein, from Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein:
I am frequently visited by a white moth or a white butterfly. Quite amazingly frequently. And I know it’s Felicia. I remember that when she died, her coffin was in our living room in East Hampton … and just a few of us were there—the family and a rabbi and a priest, because she’d been brought up in a convent in Chile. We were playing the Mozart Requiem on the phonograph. Everyone was absolutely silent. And then this white butterfly flew in from God knows where—it just appeared from under the coffin and flew around, alighting on everybody in the room—on each of the children, on the rabbi, on the priest, on her brother-in-law and two of her sisters, on me … and then it was gone … though there was nothing open. And this has also happened to me here, sitting outside in my garden. … White.
The appearance of a white moth. Or white butterfly…White.
From somewhere, an unbeknownst longing for a punishing trail run. It had been months. I’m in the car. [Read more…]