ARENA AND UTILITY
“The truths a man carries about
with him are his tools...”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
It is not possible to ever fully return from a solitary venture into the deep desert. The mountains, yes. The sea, maybe - unless we go very far off-shore, and, of course, alone. But the desert, far off road, alone and past the point we neither see nor hear the others. No, we cannot ever fully return from such adventure. Something of us always remains out there. Well, the something lost is not really out there, it's simply removed from us and lost the moment it goes away. The something evaporates away into space like water spilt upon hot sand which we think sinks into the place, but which really simply disappears before our eyes and is gone as vapor. That is what happens to some part of us way out there alone in the desert. We become less. There is less of us ever to move forward. And nothing comes in to replace what is lost—it is lost forever. And such a blessing is the absence. I can hardly share with you the experience. You would have to lose it for yourself to really know.
What there isn’t beyond the sea
Life is a little like coming awake on an island beach, naked and screaming and vulnerable and weak. The natives here do care for us, and get us up off the sand to shelter and shade from the sun and night and the grinding machine outside. They teach us their tongue, and give us some ways, and show us how to be and behave and what to expect. And the natives explain why we are here while expecting belief. And so we grow seemingly strong and fluent and capable; and establish our place with the people on the island in the shade—always suspect of the sunlight and the deep dark and the strange sounds far away.
Into this forum—
Of trial and opportunity.
Barely time to open our eyes.
Rarely a moment to see.
Just time enough—
To accept and pretend,
Our brief days away.
And soon the others go away—the old ones mostly—and cease seemingly to be. They leave when they close their eyes, and stop their breathe, and are no longer this thing called alive. But...I was taught they go on in some way, and that we will see them again in a place where there is no pain, and where no one ever leaves, and where someone very strong will care for us all. And so I carry on in these ways, accepting belief, tolerant of pain, living this way that we be.
But I wonder sometimes...what this really is...this place where I am, and this thing which I am, and this seeming existence day by day? I don't tell the others my thoughts, which upsets their belief which binds them each to what they call true. Such nice people, who saved me from the beach, who brought me in, and made me their own, and taught me that which few ever doubt and which carries them all of their days. And so, I will hold my tongue, and go through their ways, and speak as they do for each and all of my days.
All the while wondering to myself...
What there is—or isn't.
Across and over the sea?
Notes from my muse
I always find something in Siberia that isn’t really there - words. I can arrive with a seemingly empty mind, and then depart with an abundance of ideas and notions I could likely find nowhere else. The words have some small pedigree of the desert, though clearly they’re made of something else. I’m pretty sure they were, and are, never there; and appear only by virtue of the effort I’ve made to find them.