• Posted: Jul 29, 2012 11:21:57
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I was reminded this week of several things personally disturbing from my past: hearing of my father passed out drunk and alone in the night on the lawn in the park across from the reception hall where my wife and I had just departure for our honeymoon; seeing a teenage neighbor girl being carried out on a stretcher all charred like an overcooked marshmallow on a stick after I'd tried and failed to save her from the immense wall of heat and flames that had consumed her entire apartment and the bed upon which she'd fallen asleep while smoking; calling futilely into the night for hours one evening when I was young for my dog only to finally see a movement and hear a whimper near one dark corner of our building and then find him crushed and broken by a car but somehow alive with strength enough to struggle home at my call.
There are so very many things in the news and not that potentially affect us very deeply. We are overwhelmed by the thought, the emotion, brought to numbness with paralyzing impotence. What travesty of thought and action could possibly have brought about such horrors? We are at a loss. We do not understand. What could, what should we have done to head off those things that have irreversibly come to pass?
The truth is we are born in ignorance and live so very much of our lives struggling to make some tiny bit of useful sense of things. We want good things to come to pass, not bad. But instead, it seems we are all too often overwhelmingly awash in things beyond our understanding, beyond our control, so underminingly taxing of everything we have to offer. Little wonder we are sometimes forced to turn away, to try to regain our equilibrium, our strength, our sense of wholeness, some semblance of peace in our minds. We turn to a hug from a friend, a caress from a pet, a stare out the window, a sit down or a walk or a run. And sometimes we return to a process, a process of caring for ourselves. Some may brush their hair or do their nails, finally do the dishes, pickup around the house, and mow the lawn. Others may pick up a lump of clay and begin to knead and shape and squeeze. Others may take up a journal or musical instrument and begin to play again at putting words or notes together in some fashion that will somehow seem to satisfy. Still others may paint or take another look at their photographs, especially ones that perhaps hint at the possibility of eventually being able to understand, to see the light, comprehend the literal sense of things.
I offer the following short piece I wrote quite a while ago, during a not so easy time for me. Perhaps in it you will see the process about which I speak:
His hat lies on an empty desk. It is a winter cap, of nautical character, made from black felt and black ribbon. Its shape has softened. Its band shows wear. But it is still a good cap, a soft but strong cap with crisp brim.
The room is empty, too. Two windows, high on the wall, framed in dark wood, spill grey light onto a grey floor and white walls. The walls are blank, except for textures that come with age. The light is not depressing. It is gentle and radiant, spilling into shadows, erasing harshness, filling emptiness.
Tomorrow, the man will bring a milk white vase into the room and place it on the desk. In the vase will be just a few crisp green stems upholding wax white tulips. And for a while, the man will sit in silence, all alone, and watch the play of light upon the blossoms. And he will be reminded of cold hard steel floating lost and empty on an endlessly rolling, angry sea.
And after a while, the man will close his grey eyes and commit to memory the translucent curves of those wax white blossoms upon his desk. For shortly thereafter, the man will put on his soft black cap of still crisp brim, and he will leave the empty desk, and the empty room, to sail upon the angry seas again.
But this time, he will not sail empty, nor lose his way, for in the midst of rolling waves and pin-prickling spray, he will stand his ground aboard cold steel and see clearly his memory of wax white tulips in soft grey light.
-- Robert Greigos © 1992
Saturday, June 9th, 2012
7.4 mm 35 mm