Thursday, March 1, 2007

What the Stars Do

Haven't you been paying attention? Haven't you noticed? This is a horrible place. The sylvan glades can fall to blight, the crisp sunrise can shatter under earthquake, the starry night can rain down as fiery hailstones. Kindness is met by cruelty. We open our hearts to each other, when we do, and there is no sure promise of security or returned affection.

But for all this, we must select those qualities that we would embody, and we must act as if we possess them. We will be loyal, though betrayed. We will be gentle in the face of uncertainty. We will be fierce even when we are afraid. If nothing else will be constant, if the world wavers and time changes it pace -- in the choking presence of every lost hope, we will draw our breath and rise and meet what lies waiting for us.

Grief cannot be avoided. It cannot be subdued. We can only make peace with it.

I remembered the day ahead of time, and watched the black serpent stir and uncoil in my soul. I was afraid of it because it has held me helpless in its loops before, and I find I need to breathe, even if only for weeping. But we have grown older together, and the phantoms of my missing limbs are dimmer now. Perhaps there is more light. I'm still married to the pain, but no longer feel the urge so deeply to be faithful. Pain is a whore.

Is life terrible? Yes. Is it beautiful, and filled with anguish? Yes. Is there joy? There must be. It's not like there always has to be a happy ending. An ending should be enough in itself. It's a kind of hope. Even the stars don't last. Only heaven, and hell -- which is what life is, writ large.

I'll let my gray white beard grow out for a few more days, then I'll shave.



brent said...

"Who would have thought that the spirit marks the calendar. A soul is branded with pain, the scar deep as bone, and it throbs like a variable star ... a clockwork universe of anguish. Not all behaviour is hormonal, it seems."

Unknowingly, I prayed for you this morning. It seems the Spirit marks the calander as well.



Jack H said...

I try to maintain a certain level of self-awareness. I try to remember the symbols I have used. But I only just connected the term "variable star" with the very title of this latest. I have no idea why I chose this instant title over some other. But it seems that this, and that, are the same thing. Time does indeed jump its tracks. The only thing that's changed, if anything, must be me.


brent said...

"Even the stars don't last."

I thought you were making the connection in writing -- continuing the theme by answering and singing in harmony to the previous post.

I love the harmony of life and time. Viewing it that is, not necessarily experiencing it. But, we can't escape it so "we will draw our breath and rise and meet what lies waiting for us."

Jack H said...

That's very good, that you caught the connection. I just write these things, let it come, and these two followed one upon the other. Then I engaged my critical capacity, and saw that there was no way that I could justify leaving them as one piece, so ...

Just a peak into the wonder that is I. Fascinating, just fascinating.

Speaking of harmony, last night I found an old CD -- haven't listened to music for years ... literally. During a certain unsettled period in my history, I'd listen to a song by Peter Gabrial. I suppose it's called "Don't Give Up" -- a duet with a female vocalist. The specifics didn't apply to me, but it answered something in my soul. Point is, once as I sat brooding my son came in and we talked, and he said, "Don't give up." And we laughed. I felt last night that I had failed, in that my son needed to comfort me. But it's not a failure, to be human. Fathers take the blows, but that doesn't mean that sons can't show their love.

That is, after all, what harmony is.