Friday, January 06, 2006

Gadget legs and empty stomachs

Listening to: Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk--the Most Serene Republic
Mood: Excitedly Undefined

Books smile at me from various corners of my apartment. I just finished one--Moon Palace by Paul Auster and was consistently pleased. It was one of those books that you keep looking at, even when you've finished it. One of those packages of pages and words that will sit beside you on the couch and lure you back to it. One of those literary treasures that you flip through with nostalgia after reading, hoping that the words might lift off the page and pull you towards them once again.

“I was buoyant in my solitude.” Just like that, such a simple line, and such a host of associations. A tiny ship on an expanse of water: pure freedom and fearful unfetteredness, together in an single image. I too have felt this buoyancy. Stepping on planes, reaching a decision, starting something new. Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite poets, says that it is a tremendous violence to begin anything. I would have thought it a birth, but even in birth there is blood, there is agony, there are cries. Beginings are great, loud cries in the smooth quiet of daily life. Wherever we are in life, in age, circumstance, or locale, beginnings present themselves, begging us for the courage to fight them. What shall we become if we cease to create?

The seagulls are ecstatic outside my window. If only it was for the sea, and not for dismal dumpster treasures. Now crows have joined them, perched on the telephone wires, black chess pieces to their white. Will they all fight together, or pick sides, sharing a piece of break amongst their own kind? I can't see their battleground; from my position on the couch I can only see the sky.

I think I live with one foot in every place I love. But God knows I only have two. Go-go gadget legs...

If God is telling me anything at all these days I'd think it would be to write. There are times when the character of our thought can tell us more than existence itself. Those recurring images, dreams, coincidences, and descriptive digressions. The world pours itself through my pen, performs the daily ritual of turning itself to ink, performing the alchemy of adverbs. But every writer knows that inspiration always comes when there's no magical pen in sight. When you're cutting a grapefruit on the counter and your mind is multiplying thoughts, attaching and attaching like all those little pockets of sticky, sour joice that make up the yellow globe in your hand. "Just focus on the grapefruit," I say, as if reciting a chant. The tasks of a day are just tunnels into another realm, where words and ideas swing back and forth on translucent tree trunks. I like the fruits I have to work for. Pomegranates. Mangoes. Grapefruits. Never with the "Here I am!" of apples, or the conveniency of grapes. Inside their flesh a thousand little mysteries.

I have been attending this bi-weekly event called Gathering with a friend. Aside from the fear of organized transparency that could plague any less-public newcomer, these evenings have been life-giving for me. The theme of our discussion last time I attended was "mindful consumption," a topic that revolved around food, but spanned into other areas of life as well. One woman spoke about a group excercise she'd participated in once, regarding an orange. They were to explain its textures and attributes for over an hour, slowly engaging all the senses around this single object of nourishment. The image was beautiful; she said it forever changed the way she eats oranges. For the past two days my roomate and I set out on a bit of a cleanse, attempting a whole week of eating only cabbage soup and various other vegetal bounties. Our organized effort towards not only a healthy new year, but a crash course in self-discipline. I wanted to remind myself to eat slowly and deliberately, to watch my body and mind respond to a different energy intake. At the end of the second day,in a state of tottering haziness, we decided it was no longer healthy. (Sometimes I can be so all or nothing.) Those two days of light-headed, internal purity taught me the difference between hunger and desire, among other things. Namely, that Gandhi I am not. When your transportation is located in the strength of your legs, fruits and vegetables don't really go the distance. Moderation may be a higher virtue than extremism. Mission: aborted.


Mark said...

Fruits that you have to work for, eh? My favourite is the Passion fruit. If you want to eat it properly, you really can't be tongue tied, otherwise you'd have to mangle the fruit to get at the yummy inside--or, I guess you could use a spoon, but that'd be no fun. Or, you could be like my Dad and just eat the entire thing, leathery skin and all.

Marla said...

i love mangoes. i love that they're slurpy and slippery and that one mango can have many different flavours and textures. and i love pronouncing it MAN-GO. it sounds funny.

i bought a pomegranate for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it took forever to get all the seeds out! i accidently squirted some juice on my dog's face and - since he's blonde - he looked like he had been in a cat fight!