Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Letter of Introduction

Dearest Reader,

The work in your hands is a small drop of water from a vast reservoir of creativity. This is not said in boasting, as a dam cannot take credit as the source of the water it holds back. No. What sets one reservoir apart from another is their capacity to hold the water from the rivers and rains, and their ability (and willingness) to expand that capacity.

But I am more than mere capacity. I am more than the sum of my actions and labors. I am something beyond them, transcending them, simultaneously their source and their purpose. My art does not define me; I am what defines my art. My thoughts are the flowers of my soul; my art, the fruit of it. Yet the tiny bumblebee that sips from my flowers and eats of my fruit cannot begin to comprehend the vastness of the tree, and further yet, the ground in which is lays anchor, or still further, the ever-bright sun from which all life drinks. For we are all bees and cannot see what lies beyond the five petals before us.

Yet I am no bee. I am a man. A man in the sense that I am a human. A man in the sense that I am biologically male. A man in the sense that while I am neither stone, nor flower, nor bee, nor angel, but something entirely separate, yet I am still a part of the Largerness, the all encompassing symphony. I breathe and a millions leaves on the tree outside my window breathe with me. I sing and ten million voices throughout the world harmonize. I shine and with me, a hundred million stars in the universe burn with empyreal passion. We are all men in that respect, and the world rejoices with us daily in the uncountable miracles. If, we simply stop buzzing and part the petals before our faces.

I am a child. A very young child. Every new kernel of sand I find magnifies only the vastness of the unexplored desert before me. I search out these older children in hopes that they will teach me their games and sing me their songs and show me their hearts and bring me their stories of what they found in this desert. And yet the ocean of sand remains, running through our fingers the moment we think we grasp any of it. I am a child, and wish to remain this way, always playing hide and seek with knowledge, while never letting go of the truth I have been given.

You may at this point be searching for a compass in this desert of mirages and metaphors, grasping at your own sand for a base to build on. But that is life. And that is inquiry. And that is self discovery. Utterly futile. Like carving your likeness in dry, desert sands. Pull apart the petals before you and all you will find are twisting branches in a maze of chaos, the guidelines on the petals giving way to a network of twigs and vines and branches and leaves and lines upon lines of useless dialogue. No compass can direct you here; you must step back and see the tree for the tree and the fruit for the fruit and the earth for the earth and the bees for the bees. Carve your image out of stone instead, and then break it apart to build an altar to something bigger than yourself. That is true perspective, true art, true life.

I am: alive. I think. I breathe. I move. I shake. I cry. I bleed. I hurt. I heal. I forgive. I do not forget. I learn. I move, more. I find more. I build more. I break less. I think more or less. I sit. I ponder. I stand. And shout. I run. And run. And run. And jump. And sometimes. I lie. Beneath the moon. And listen. To the silence. Of the world. And my soul. And reflect. Like the moon. The light. From the sun. On the tree. With the flowers. And the bees. And I rest. And I am still. And I do not move. And I hold my breath. And I do not think. And in that silence. That reflective silence. I know that I am alive. Which is different. So very different. From simply letting life live me.

I am a vessel. We are all vessels. What we decide to pour into our lives, we will pour out into others’ lives and becomes our work, our art. I work, daily, to wash my vessel, so when I catch the rains in it, my walls are clean and my basin is pure, so my waters may be sweet. I have found that how I receive something, determines what I pour out; that my internal walls can affect the taste of the rivers that flow out of my life. No matter how much pure water flows into a dam, if the walls are caked with corpses, the water remains bitter that flows out. Not only must my walls remain flexible and ever expand their capacity; they must be cleansed more frequently than less, to guard against life’s attitudes and the old, dead things which collect in my life. I am a washer of walls.

I am a giggle in the vast expanse of the universe and time. A single, solitary breathe of air. Invisible. Incomparable. Barely touchable. I live for only a moment, have only a brief second before I am gone. My time to touch you is short. Our time together is even shorter. Brevity is humanity, and the brighter a flame burns, the faster its fuel is depleted. Everyone must decide how they will use their fuel. Burn softly, dully, stretching life out as long as they can, or burn brightly, outshining all before and after them, even if the cost is brevity. History teach us: the greats die young anyway. But then we’re all still children and can all expand to greatness.

I am a philosopher who hates philosophy. A romantic who loves reason. A scientist who practices active use of my imagination. I am cold fire, and dry water. I am the bee and the tree and the breath between them. I am a drop of sand in the vast desert inside the hourglass cemented to the base of the universe within the speck of dust that is eternity. When I write, my art begins and ends with this knowledge. Everything I do is worth nothing. And everything I do is worth everything. It is the divine paradox of life. We are worth nothing and everything, and a peach tree only makes more peaches.

I prize the peaches of my tree, and work long and hard to produce them. From within the folds of my own soul, I bring forth thought-flowers. Sometimes they originate in past experiences. Sometimes they are the manifestation of recognized personal hopes or maybe fears. Often, they are spontaneous. Spontaneous in that no pack of bloodhounds or herd of psychologist could find their point of origin. They are merely thoughts that happen to appear from within me, as this letter to you, dearest Reader, is. However, though the source of the origin my be spontaneous, the origin itself is not arbitrary. It has taken many long years, but I have trained myself to produce at least one a day. One flower each day, to become one fruit each night.

Once my flower of thought has opened itself, it is cross-pollinated by my life. By my experiences. By my encounters. By my gained wisdom. By my foolishness. By the lives of others. By the universe. By small bumblebees at my window. By Virgil and Keats and Shelly and MacDonald. By countless cups of coffee. By my eyes. By my tongue. By my heart. By other peach blossoms until finally the kernel of life has awoken within my thought.

And then I write. I expand the base of the flower, letting the superlative petals wither and fall. There will always more petals in the morrow. I let the base expand, searching within it till I have found the seed I wish to sow. Then I begin incasing it with layers of sweet flesh and thick, sticky nectar, to make it more palatable to the little bees. I let it grow, let it mature, till the large, velvety fruit hangs low from the branches of my soul. Hangs ready to be plucked from my arboreal arms. Some will come and taste the fruit, and eat the flesh, but will throw away the pit. That is fine. It will still take root, will still grow. Even when they cannot grasp, cannot understand, cannot receive the pit beneath the flesh, the earth will still gladly accept these refined ideas into its warm folds. And someday the pits will be gathered together and we will sit in the sand and count them out, and read their wrinkled surfaces as one reads the face of an old friend and we will laugh that some would choose the flesh over the seed.

Dearest Reader, what you hold in your hands right now is another peach. Its skin is thin and its flesh is even thinner. The pit can be seen without taking a bite. Hold it up to the light and you can see the deeper part of this fruit. As you have already tasted, it still gushed with honeyed nectar, not to hide the pit but to sweeten it to your mouth and mind and heart. If you do not want this pit, you do not have to keep it. It is, after all, my pit from my peach from my flower from my tree. I offer it, but it does not need to be accepted. If you want, you may feast on the thin layer of flesh, and drink the fountains of nectar within and praise this letter merely for its poetic and symbolic value. Or you can ponder the pit. Learn to read its lines. Dare to look at the meaning etched there. I cannot guarantee you will like it. But what I can guarantee is this. It will bring new life.

The Author

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