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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Grand Symphony

A young boy in orange overalls hits his spoon against the metal park bench. Bang. Bang. Bang. The rhythm has been set.

The melody chimes in, sung by what feels like every bird to ever exist, although it is most likely just a few in the tree above. They sing separately, but harmoniously, as though each had been given its place in the score, practiced for hours, days, weeks, to ensure they got it right. They sing separately, but as one. The melody continues on.

A ladybug scurries across the open pages of my journal. Too slow to be running, but too quick to be walking, I decide she must be dancing. Dance on, little wonder, I tell her in my head. She seems to understand as she reaches the edge of the page and turns back around.

A great roar of percussion from the repair being done in one of the apartments above.

A startled group of butterflies rises from the flowers. A masterpiece in and of themselves, the flowers sway for an instant, their soft and vibrant petals of reds and pinks and yellows lightly skim against one another. For an instant, all division of color blurs into one shade of perfection.

And then the world is soft. The butterflies hover in the still air, heavy with the sweetness of scent, the fullness of life breathing in and out. They float. They glide. They move with all of the subtle intent of silence. The boy has stopped his banging. The birds have quieted their melody. The world is still.

A car passes and the song begins again. Rising. Falling. Vivacissimo. Pianissimo. Back and forth, up and down, I move with the orchestra of the universe.

I think about the song of my life, how it rises and falls, how it began with a single cry and how it is still being written one verse at a time.

In silence this morning, I watched the moon. I thought of the stars, each a note on the page, reaching to the lowest and highest octaves of understanding. The moon itself, a whole note, whose roundness I climbed into for the comforting duration of four beats. One, two, three, four. Then it was time to move on.

The wind pushed through the arriving dawn. A new movement began, quietly at first, but growing louder, passionately pushing through the stillness of morning. The day began. I began with it.

And perhaps even now, in my solitude, the vibrations are resonating more deeply, more profoundly than the simple ears of humans can detect. Perhaps even now, the hum of my computer is only the shallow surface of the music being created in my presence. Perhaps even now, these words I am writing are merely a metaphor for the notes of the grand symphony that is my life.

I hit the keys of my keyboard. Bang. Bang. Bang. The rhythm has been set.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Except Everything

I do not know much. In fact, all of my knowledge could probably be packed away into one average sized box, light enough for just one average person of average strength to carry. And I would let them carry it away if needed. I would let them take from me every fact I knew for certain, every detail I knew as truth, every explanation I had ever formed. Because none of it is why I continue.

What I like in this life, in this world, in this universe is the unexplainable. I like the way everything moves in cycles. I like the way my eyes open each morning and close each night. I like the way death replaces life, which replaces death, and I like the way life replaces death, which replaces life. I like that I don’t know if we are each given one life, or many. I like that I understand life and death equally, which is barely at all. I like the idea of infinity, but I also like the idea that our time here is precious and not to be taken for granted.

I like how you can lose an entire day to a book, and have really lost nothing at all. I like that each morning is a new beginning and that every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around.

I like that everything is connected and that we are still inherently alone. I like that we are never really alone. I like that in every moment we are thinking of someone and in every moment someone is thinking of us. I like that joy in sorrow are one in the same.

I like love. I like the love between lovers, and between friends, and between family. I like the way your laugh sounds intertwined with mine, which has nothing to do with love, except everything.

I like laughter. I like how every laugh of every person is unique and the way our laughter changes each time it bursts from our lips. I like the feeling right before it erupts, and the way it makes your stomach ache, and the sense of calm it brings immediately following. I like the foolishness and severity of love, which has nothing to do with laughter, except everything.

I like not knowing, and choosing not to know, why the earth offers it’s softness up to us with cupped hands. I like the way a flock of birds could easily be one bird, how each knows exactly which way to glide along the breeze. I like the way they surge from their sitting place all at once, like a bottle of champagne being opened, like laughter. I like the way they float, like clouds, like people in love.

I like the way the trees change colors, the oceans move in and out along the shore, the sky becomes illuminated with color, all of which has scientific explanation, but all of which I choose to see as free will.

I like art, but I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why I am drawn to certain colors or shapes or images. I can’t tell you why certain songs make me sad or happy or set my soul ablaze with emotion. I can’t tell you why some lines of poetry make me cry, or why I hug certain novels when I close their final page. Someone probably could, but I’m sure I’d rather not hear it.

Because what I like most in this life, this world, this universe are the things that transcend language. Or at least, my knowledge of language. Perhaps there is a word I have yet to discover that encompasses all that I do not know, but I’m sure I’d rather not know it. What I know is that I like not knowing, which has nothing to do with who I am, except everything.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Since I've Last Written

It’s finally starting to get cold. Winter got caught up in things and was late to it’s own party. Casually it slipped in, hoping to be forgiven. Better late than never, it sighs.

Since I’ve last written, the triumphs and tribulations of life have been condensed into a concrete reminder of uncertainty. With each passing day, the extremes of joy and sorrow have presented themselves, gently nudging at the soul the knowledge that life continues to move forward. Anticipation, disappointment, birth, death. Still, it continues onward. Still, time ceases to stop.

The day after my last post, I received a promotion and raise at work. It was nice to feel appreciated, to feel valued, to feel needed in the place that I’ve devoted all my time to these past few months. It was nice to feel assured that I was doing something right for once, that this is where I belong. It was nice to feel secure in my actions.

But with a sense of security also came insecurity. We had a meeting with my coworkers to explain the situation, how I was now in charge, how I was responsible for the room. That meeting was the first time I hadn’t felt like a leader there, the first time I felt as though I had to be careful about the way I worded things so as not to upset anyone. It was the first time I felt unsure of my ideas and opinions. Suddenly, I was the enemy.

Of course, it’s working out, but now that the classroom has officially become my classroom, I take upon myself all of the success and failures that arise within those walls. I take each mistake as my own. I see each needed improvement as my responsibility. I have lost that divide between myself and my job, and now each good or bad day reflects on my soul.

That Saturday was one of my best friend’s birthdays and we went out to celebrate. We had a reunion of sorts and it was wonderful to see everyone, to catch up, to erase the moments that had passed since we had last seen one another. Still, I was exhausted, and felt that what could have been a wonderful night was overshadowed by the fact that I was the only one without a winter break, the only one who had to wake up before dawn every morning that week and would have to again the following week. I questioned my ability to have unbridled fun anymore, that all-consuming lose-yourself-in-the-moment kind of fun. The kind of fun that we should be having in our early twenties. Maybe I tried to grow up too quickly.

On Tuesday, I went out with a group of my favorite coworkers. We gossiped over dinner and drinks, talking and laughing until the early hours of the morning. We didn’t even seem to mind that by the time we got home, we had only a few hours to sleep before waking to see one another again. It was a lovely feeling. It turned work into something more, something real, something about community and friendship. It brought us closer together. It solidified our place at work. It gave us a sense of belonging.

On Thursday, January 4th, my nephew was born. Little Leo Zelnick entered this world at 12:54 pm at 6 pounds, 10 ounces with a full head of dark curly hair. “He already looks like a hippy,” my sister-in-law exclaimed, as is his destiny given the family he comes from. My excitement is inexplicable. I have two nieces and a nephew already, but living in another state, I rarely see them. My relationship with this nephew will be different. It will be real and substantial. It will be what should be. It will be love.

But as if to remind us that life is not all joyful, not indestructible, not without it’s end, the universe accompanied birth with death and took from this earth my aunt, who died yesterday from her battle with cancer. On this rainy day, the city mourns the loss of our football team last night and I mourn the loss of my father’s sister. It was kind of the world to give us this gloomy day to grieve. I am grateful for the time.

Still, time moves forward. Aunt Naomi closed her eyes to finish the last thought of her lifetime. Little Leo opened his eyes to discover the lifetime that awaits him. I linger somewhere in between, reveling in joy and sorrow, and the winter that has finally graced us with her presence.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Rain

She said that it was appropriate that it should rain on New Years Eve. It was cleansing, a washing away of all that had preceded, a fresh beginning to all that was to come. My enthusiastic agreement excited her. She hugged me. I don’t know who she was or whether I’ll ever see her again, but it seemed the perfect way to begin a new year.

It was still raining when I walked to my car the next morning. Drops of water clung to the branches of each naked tree like crystals. The world was soft, quiet, inviting, as though it had broken open to a center of comfort. I reveled in it for a moment before making my way down the long driveway. I laughed a little to myself, and although it was only for a brief moment, that feeling resounded in me like a tentative promise of eternal joy. I could be happy like this forever, I thought.

I left for work this morning at 6, making my way down the deserted main street, smiling at its profound emptiness. The winter lights hung across the street, filled the tiny trees along the side, twinkled in the vast darkness of the world just before the sun rises. The moon shined ahead. It was a huge moon, not quite full, but grand enough to make the universe feel closer and more connected than anyone who saw it could ever imagine. It was the way a fabulous artist would paint night. It was simple and complex. It was perfection.

On my way out of Starbucks, I passed three people making their way into the day. Each one said hello. Each one smiled that smile of understanding. Each one knew the beauty of life at these early hours before the sun. We were connected in that way, in every way, if only for an instant.

I thought of all the kindred spirits I know and all I have yet to meet. I thought of those I will never meet, those who share my thoughts and feelings and desires, but whose paths will never cross with mine. I wonder if they think of me too.

Aren’t we all, always thinking, always wondering, always imagining those versions of ourselves living different lives in different places. Sometimes my soul is heavy with the lives I am not living. Other times, not. Sometimes I am happy to be exactly me, exactly here. Those are the moments I call life.

What will this year bring? Who’s to say. My life has continued to change and evolve so rapidly, that often words cannot come quickly enough to keep track. I have yet to determine whether that will always be the case or whether it’s simply what happens in your early twenties when you have no direction, when anything is possible. Does that feeling last? Does anyone ever actually settle into a life?

On Thursday I’m meeting with three of my best friends to discuss finding a house together. What a lovely new beginning that would be, a home of our own, a family I can really see as family. Just the thought of it thrills me to no end.

But of course, even that won’t be final. We’ll live there a year, maybe longer, but then it will be time for a new home, a new adventure, a new chapter in our lives. Life continues forward. We move into the new year with hope, with joy, with the knowledge that at some point, the rain will come again and we will be reborn.