Molten petals sweep
And awaiting awaking,
For I am the mastodon.
I am the birdshout.
I am the night
Have you ever watched the sea? I’ve only really watched it from the shore, and not that even that much.
It moves like breath. In, out. Like the back of a child, up, down, as it sleeps in its crib. A heavenly hand caresses it with cloudy touch. In, out.
Dreams sleep there. Water fairies and krakens and pirates and the sky. The sea holds our dread, and it holds shores.
What are those shores worth? I wonder. Shores of sand and coconuts and spears and trading companies and rifles and gallows. Shores of magic. The cloudy hands hold those too.
From the shore, the stormy sea seems not so stormy. But get out on it… Have you ever felt a strong undertow? That restless babe is but a drowning factory. A toilet. A grave, pulling on you like time, and you tromping and splashing to escape.
Or the calm. You don’t meet that on the shore. The shore is always breathing, trading its woody fares for foreign winds and unearthed sea bottoms. And death.
And what is land but death, anyways? Porous, petrified, stillborn Adam. And here we are to work it.
I have never seen a calm sea. I suspect it’s a lot like death. No breath, just space for the walking room of your thoughts. We were all made for that place—where the water stops breathing and the wind doesn’t wander.
But were we made for that place? Is the sea made for calm? Wet movement upon stone. Waves and waves and restless weight. Like my six year old.
And like the rain to the rivers—beading and dripping down, down, down—all our lives go to the sea. And don’t get all uppity. The sky is the sea too. We drip down to the sea, to the very edge of the shore, and we fall in.
I’m not sure if it’s time or fate or possibility or creation. It’s something, and it doesn’t seem to want me to define it. But I suppose that’s just like anything God makes. And as I try, it breathes, in and out, and it sleeps and angers and dies.
Life and death are like the sea. But what can I tell, really, from this Adam? Maybe someday, God will walk me down to the shore, draw me by the hand in, and take me down to its depths.
Dried and bleached by sleep,
Laid and stacked,
White for writing,
Dropped from a height
To clatter upon concrete,
Where a ruckus wind
Spooks them again
Such are the thoughts
Of this broken daybreak.
You don’t have to want to do it for it to be worthwhile, wholesome, to enjoy it, to do it well or get into it (this can come even when you don’t want to do it to begin with).
The wanting to do it and the doing are not necessarily connected, especially if the not wanting occurs before and not while you are doing it, I would think. Sometimes if you make yourself do it anyways, you end up having a completely different attitude as you do it.
The context where this seems the strangest is loving others. I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel like my love is authentic unless it’s desire that leads me to do it. But what about times when I choose to love apart from desire and end up desiring it as I love? What is that about?
What Dr. Svigel said about being simultaneously sinners and saints comes to mind. We can never do anything wholly holy or wholly depraved because we are both at all times.
Likewise, we are at all times authentic, though the level or layer at which we are authentic changes. For instance, if I act loving though I secretly despise the other person, I am authentic in the sense that I am authentically hiding my hate. If I write when I don’t want to write, I am authentically pursuing whatever it is that makes me want to write when I don’t want to, I just am not writing because I want to write. And since when does “authentic” mean “whatever you want to do at the time?” How did I arrive at that, again?
Surely it’s a recognition that our desires are (at least part of) who we are. But are we not also will, cognition, beliefs, values, fears, and everything else? And can you ever be separated from anything that is you? It seems that an emphasis on any one of these (at the expense of others) is a mistake. For instance, the camp that pushes will over everything else roughly equals drudgery, slavery, legalism, moralism, and all those other goodies. The whole fake it ’til you make it idea. I don’t buy it.
And maybe this is just a false dichotomy. Isn’t the point of figuring it out to determine how to make myself do things and to do them in a godly way? Or at the very least, the “right” way. I.e., motivation? I.e., trying to do things purely, not recognizing 1) that I am at all times a sinner and a saint and 2) that good motivations are a product of “by grace through faith.”
And that’s really the issue here. If you’re going to go about writing the right way, the best way, it’ll be by grace through faith. Nothing less.
I guess it’s just that idea that we are always ourselves, even if “ourselves” is trying to be someone else. What people really mean is “don’t feel the need to be someone else” or “don’t feel the need to not be you,” whatever it is that you are. What about godliness? Shouldn’t I feel the need to be godly? I suppose it’s a duality. We feel the need, but we are also content to be 1) saved and 2) whatever God makes us.
To be continued.
He rebelled. “I am not your son. Just look at me. I’m 2 feet shorter than you.”
“I have the records to prove it.”
“Hand them to me.”
Swipe. “There’s your records. Insolent boy.”
“No! My records!”
Blood sizzled at his wrist where I excised his presumption.
Wind from the chasm below, and shock, shook him, and he grabbed the railing with his remaining hand. “Maybe your passion as indicated by your violence proves how much you love me.”
And he slipped, as if on his own whiny tears, into the garbage chute below, screaming as he fell. “I totally thought it’d be Obi-Wan.”
“Brain. I need a word to describe darkness.”
“What quality would you like to modify?”
“It’s night, and there are no stars, so how about just ‘really dark?’ So, intensity.”
“Would you like a modifier of the same category of contextually-determined primary-quality as ‘darkness?’ Or would you rather something of a different primary quality?”
“Sure. The first one.”
“We have numerous matches whose primary qualities would modify ‘darkness’ to lie within the semantic range of ‘really dark—’”
“And make sure it’s one that’s not used often.”
“How about ‘darkness like coal?’”
“How about ‘ashen darkness?’”
“That’s just an adjective. And somewhat common. How about we stick to nouns? That’ll make it less common.”
“How about ‘inky darkness?’”
“That’s still an adjective, but I like that it’s really, really dark.
“How about ‘ink darkness?’”
“That doesn’t sound right—not nearly as good as ‘inky.’ It’s something about that appended syllable. What’s a word that’s associated with ink?”
“How about ink-blot darkness?”
“I do not have an entry for ink-blot darkness.”
“Great. Then it’s novel. We’ll go with ink-blot darkness.”