I can feel you. I know you are there. I want you to be there. I think that’s the reason it keeps happening. At some point, we both reflect on those moments, and it brings us somehow together. Your face said everything. Just for a moment, it all came rushing back to you–all those moments–they all passed through your mind’s eye. Your body posture changed immediately. You opened to me. I wanted to run right at you and hold you close, but the moment was gone and you–you were brought back to the temporal–you were brought back to the moment in time and space, but before you turned and remembered where you were temporally, I had you completely–I had you completely–and I wanted you completely. For just a few seconds, everything stopped, and that place that only we inhabit burst open. Your face softened. Your shoulders relaxed. It was relief–you were relieved–just for that moment. I played right along in the temporal. I allowed a suspension of my inclinations and yours. Twice during the conversation in time and space, we leaned into each other. Your face immediately softened. You were close enough to hear my heartbeat.
After a few seconds you snapped out of it and returned to the space and time of the temporal world, and once more, I extended my hand. You came immediately in and again your face softened and you smiled. It was like you were looking right through me. It would have been a completely different experience had it been under different circumstances. I imagined how it might have gone, had we been alone. I would have pulled you in, surrounded you with my arms. My heart was flung open only for a few seconds, but if the circumstances were different, I would have opened up all the way.
I wouldn’t let you go. I’m so much taller, I always seem to be looking down at you, but your face, when it looks up to me, makes it feel like we’re the same height. Height becomes irrelevant. I know I would have put my hands on your face, and I believe your face would be grinning broadly. I would hesitate for just a second or two, and I would say, “I love you,” and I would kiss you deeply–passionately. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. It wouldn’t have to be anymore. It would be alright. We’d be fine. I would look deeply in your eyes; I would sigh; I’d probably be giggling–a nervous laughter. I wouldn’t want you to be upset. I would want you to giggle too.
Even if it never happened again, I would know that moment and I would create a point of worship. I’d worship that moment–cling to it–always. So many times when you have been in my arms, and our faces have been very close, I have wanted to kiss you, but it was almost unnecessary because it seemed that your face registered my desire–you knew that I wanted to kiss you, and you smiled.
There must be a chance, even if its only once, to relive this imagining, to manifest it in the physical world, but even if it never happens it’s really already happened dozens of times, and each time you smiled, knowing. I don’t understand, but I accept–I accept you, just as you are. You see, the person to whom that face belongs–I love that person; the person who inhabits that body–I love that person; the soul that manifests as that person–I am one with that soul. We will never be apart–ever. We are forever one.
The air is bitter cold.
The distance between warmth and cold confusion is brief,
And only marginally tolerable;
The wind stings my cheeks
As I make my way to you.
I would face a thousand stings
To arrive at your door.
The door swings wide.
As I step through the doorway, I see you.
You are busy, but not too busy to turn
As I say, “Alright. I’m taking over.”
When you see me, you smile broadly;
You say nothing at first.
You look away, trying to gather your wits;
Or perhaps, you are gathering your thoughts.
“Here he is again–what should I say?”
“What will happen?” “How do I look?”
“What will he think?”
I stare briefly while returning a smile,
Then walk away to give you a moment to compose yourself.
I gather a few items off the shelf and pretend to shop.
My heart is racing; my mind is conjuring:
“What will I say?” “What will she think?”
I approach the counter unseen; I hesitate briefly;
This is not the right time, so I step away.
I divert my attention momentarily.
I distract myself with another conversation,
All the while thinking of what to say.
I call to you aloud. You respond by saying,
“Oh, I see how it is.” It’s time to play.
I recover quickly by making excuses.
I pedal backwards; the transaction goes on as planned.
My mind is racing right along with my heart.
I approach you. You turn and approach me.
The smile returns; the joy ascends.
Drifting, sailing, floating, dreaming–now.
Now, you are there. I hold you close.
I pull away just enough to see your face.
Luminous, brilliant, emotive–I bring your face closer.
I imagine falling headfirst into those eyes.
My mind swirls–I swoon for one fleeting, glorious moment.
As quickly as I conjure the feeling, it’s over. I run away.
I drive quickly down the road, excitement flowing through me.
Although I am soon miles away, I am still standing near you.
You are still there with me. Time and space are frozen in memory.
All I can do is slowly breathe in and slowly exhale.
Nothing moves. Nothing changes. I abide in the memory.
I can feel the moment, the spirit, and the light brightening.
Will I ever know if you felt it too?
© September 2016 by JJHII24
“Spring Landscape,” by Achille Laugé (French, 1861–1944). Laugé was a Neo-Impressionist painter born in Arzens. Laugé never followed his teachers’ methods and advice, and his work was considered radical for its time. Influenced by French Neo-Impressionist painters Georges Seurat (1859–1891), Paul Signac (1863–1935), and Camille Pissarro (1831–1903), Laugé adopted elements of their style without aligning himself with Seurat’s strict and scientific method.–Wikipedia
Speaking of Spring, I took the opportunity a few weeks ago to photograph the signs of Spring right in my own yard around the house, and as it turned out, it would be the last sunny day for a while. I was cautiously optimistic on this sunny afternoon and captured some of the essential sights that I see each year about this time.
Right after I captured these images, we began to endure one of the longest runs of continuously rainy days in recent memory these past two weeks, and it reminded me of a passage from Hemingway:
“Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life…You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.”
― Ernest Hemingway, passage from “A Moveable Feast.”
After the terrorist incident in Paris in November of last year, “A Moveable Feast” became a bestseller in France. According to a CNN report by Watson, Ivan, and Sandrine in November 2015 called “Sales Surge for Hemingway’s Paris memoir, “the book’s French-language title, “Paris est une fête,”…was a potent symbol of defiance and celebration. Bookstore sales of the volume surged, and copies of the book became a common fixture among the flowers and candles in makeshift memorials created by Parisians across the city to honor victims of the attacks.”
First page of a miniature of Cicero’s “De Oratore,” 15th century, Northern Italy, now at the British Museum
“Historia magistra vitae est,” is a Latin expression, taken from Cicero’s “De Oratore” which translates to “History is life’s teacher.” According to Wikipedia, “…The phrase conveys the idea that the study of the past should serve as a lesson to the future.” Cicero writes eloquently in “De Oratore,” about how “…An orator is very much like the poet. The poet is more encumbered by rhythm than the orator, but richer in word choice and similar in ornamentation.”
This relentless run of rain and overcast skies has had the beneficial affect of keeping me indoors to read and contemplate my thoughts in a way that I don’t usually get the opportunity to do when the weather is better, and the following quote from Cicero’s work struck me as I reviewed it the other day:
“Nevertheless, since philosophy is divided into three branches, which respectively deal with the mysteries of nature, with the subtleties of dialectic (inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions), and with human life and conduct, let us quit claim to the first two, by way of concession to our indolence (laziness), but unless we keep our hold on the third, which has ever been the orator’s province, we shall leave the orator no sphere wherein to attain greatness. For which reason this division of philosophy, concerned with human life and manners, must all of it be mastered by the orator; as for the other matters, even though he has not studied them, he will still be able, whenever the necessity arises, to beautify them by his eloquence, if only they are brought to his notice and described to him.”
It has occurred to me that my poetry, my sense of history, and my earnest deliberations in studying the philosophical aspects of our human subjective awareness have all been in the service of the mysteries of nature, the subtleties of dialectic, and with human life and conduct, and although I don’t feel particularly “encumbered by rhythm,” a recent poem erupted from me that seems to address these mysteries in the way that Cicero suggested is often produced as “necessity arises.”
Every nuance of the life within me
Yields to the power of the
Divinity within this sacred place
We are building together.
Across the eons of time,
Through centuries of human presence on Earth,
The world within has blossomed and flourished,
While the life of the body without
Struggles to continue.
Nature reveals itself only slowly
To the spirit, like a flower
That opens at twilight.
Abiding with you in the deepest
Union of souls of my short life,
The goddess breathes life into our
Sensual union and intensive mingling
Of spirit and intimate places.
Sitting at length within her grasp,
I submit willingly to the opening
Of my soul by her gentle hand.
My tortured heart cries out silently–
While the spirit mends.
© May 2016 by JJHIII24
If you would like to listen to me recite this poem, click the following link:
Musical background selection, “Snow and Light,” by Dustin O’Halloran on his album, “Lumiere.”
I Am With You Now
The light escapes from the window,
Across the room,
Lands on my face,
Gets under my eyelids,
And stirs me to wakefulness.
Slowly, the light becomes brighter;
My mind resists entry back into the room.
Very slowly, I open my eyes.
At first, there is only a fog–
A blur of light and shadow;
The trees outside my window are stirring in the wind,
Casting their tumultuous shadows across my face.
It takes several minutes for resistance to fail,
When once more, I am back in the world–
My consciousness returns to the world.
It feels like I’m floating.
I can hardly move.
The air is still, and yet,
The motes of dust rotate and swirl
In the beam of sunlight.
There is nothing but silence and presence.
It doesn’t take long,
My mind wanders, and when it wanders,
It wanders to you–
More precisely, to my memories of you.
And yet, my spirit somehow seems to hold
The presence of your spirit within it;
We are joined in the spirit.
I manage to slide up in the bed–
Prop myself up on my elbows;
And reverie sets in.
What joy there is in this reverie;
What intensity of spirit–
And abundant affection.
I fly to you, but there is no reply.
© March 2016 by JJHIII24
I bow and extend my hand.
You place your hand in mine.
We walk slowly to a clearing,
Never looking away.
I’m drifting, sailing, floating, dreaming.
Slow motion blends with my astonishment.
I pull away to see your face.
The moment is fleeting.
It probably doesn’t even last sixty seconds.
But in those precious seconds,
The world stands still; my heart rises;
It seems to last an hour.
I begin to move and yield, move and yield.
You don’t understand at first,
Then suddenly you see that I move,
Then yield to you, for you to move.
Not simply moving, not simply yielding.
All at once, we are moving together.
Your eyes send messages to mine.
The universe stops, turns, and waits–
A moment frozen in time that I will never forget.
Could I hold you close?
You say yes, and smile broadly.
I fear I may fall down.
A few awkward moments pass.
The blood rushes from my head.
The world disappears.
The movement is no longer conscious.
We swirl and flow.
All I see is you.
We ascend as our hearts meet and melt.
I cannot think; I cannot breathe.
It’s probably only fractions of a second,
But the entire history of the world,
Is summed up in those fractions of a second.
My mind slowly rolls back into the room.
At first there is only a fog–
A blur of light and shadow.
I turn, but I am in pain.
I must turn away. I must.
But I want to stay.
I barely escape with my life.
I must keep going.
Though I am miles away,
I’m still holding you close.
I must find you again and tell you.
Do not turn away.
Share with me–if you can.
© February 2016 by JJHIII24
Christmas at the Lake House
Tumbling memories spill out along the uncertain path before me;
The surrounding forest whispers its morning message,
As I trudge my way through dew-ladened grass;
Cooler air nips at my fingertips and toes
As the fog envelopes me in a vague embrace.
The early morning exhales a silent breath,
Disturbing my tangled thoughts as the wind stirs my silver locks,
Draped like burdens on my weary shoulders,
Though they somehow feel lighter in view of the relentless placid ripples on the water’s edge.
Inhaling deeply and looking skyward,
I am reminded of the mountain air in decades past;
Memories of youthful duty in alpine states resurface
Like the diving ducks retrieving their hidden treasures,
Swirling below the gentle water at dawn.
For a moment, I am no longer alone;
A small gathering of deer arrive in front of me.
Unconcerned at my presence, though clearly curious, they turn to face me;
I giggle with surprise as they cross my path;
Content in that moment just to observe each other,
We share in the delight without comment.
A subtle mist descends upon my weary shoulders now;
It’s time to walk home and dream again,
Of mountain fog and joy unencumbered.
Copyright December 2015 by JJHIII24
In my previous post, I wrote about author Richard Brautigan, whose success in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s brought him great notoriety and financial rewards for a time. His tendency to engage in a variety of self-destructive behaviors, and a degree of recklessness in attending to his own well-being, over time, ultimately led to his gradual decline into near obscurity, and to tragically choosing to end his own life at age 49. While my life has been much different in a number of ways, the lessons contained in his all-too-brief life, as well as in the lives of others with similar outcomes, have challenged and complicated my own journey in ways that have forced me to re-examine my path–to stop here at the crossroads–and to take a long, deep, breath.
Naturally, I have all the usual concerns about the future and planning for retirement that most people do. All of my children are grown and have started having their own children, but the opportunities presented by an “empty nest,” have actually unsettled me a bit. For a handful of years now I have been attempting to formalize my research and writing into a more coherent stream in this blog, and it has been both illuminating and challenging to direct and sustain my energies in the process. It seems that I am quickly approaching a point where I must consider my choice of direction for the time I have left to act in this life. Looking ahead and looking back, as well as looking at the divergent roads that may lead in one direction or another can be daunting, especially when measured against the responsibilities and demands of sustaining oneself in the 21st century. The crossroads can represent an approach to the culmination of everything that came before reaching them, but it can also bring to bear the memories of all the uncertainty and mystery that one had to face in order to arrive there in the first place. As always, not all choices are equally viable, but now there is far less time to redirect them, should it become clear that alternative choices may have provided an opportunity for a better outcome.
Throughout most of my life, trying to discern in which direction I should turn when I’ve arrived at crossroads has always been a bit problematical, but these days it seems heavy-laden with considerations that reflect the uncertainty and mystery even more than before, as well as a heightened awareness of them, brought about by a number of harsh life lessons in recent years. A post by a fellow blogger and creative writer, David Cain, speaks to the central dilemma:
“I will never see the world quite like anyone else, which means I will never live in quite the same world as anyone else — and therefore I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me. Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life, and objectivity is something each of us builds on top of it in our minds, privately, in order to explain it all. This truth has world-shattering implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.”
Clearly, I have been in the torrent of the world this past month. October managed to escape me with my attention focused elsewhere, even though I have been struggling to hobble together an important blog post which I hope to be posting this week. The quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is actually from a play he completed in 1790 after a trip through Italy entitled, “Torquato Tasso.” I was able to locate an English translation from the original German by Charles Des Voeux which is available online thanks to the Harvard College Library Dexter Fund. In that play, the character Leonora reassures Alphonso:
“A talent doth in stillness form itself–A character on life’s unquiet stream.”
I have been swimming in “life’s unquiet stream,” and in moments of stillness, perhaps I have been developing a degree of character in the process. One can only hope! I also revisited a musical recording from my youthful days in the military by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer:
I carry the dust of a journey
that cannot be shaken away
It lives deep within me
For I breathe it every day.
You and I are yesterday’s answers;
The earth of the past came to flesh,
Eroded by Time’s rivers
To the shapes we now possess.
Come share of my breath and my substance,
and mingle our stream and our times.
In bright, infinite moments,
Our reasons are lost in our eyes.
–Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures At An Exhibition Lyrics
Reviewing the events of my life these days, I’ve begun to see the role that the expectations of others has played in many of my choices. Beginning with my experiences in the formal education portion, not only was I constantly concerned about not meeting the expectations of my parents and teachers, but I often suffered the consequences when some performance I gave fell short of those expectations. All of my efforts were inevitably scrutinized to the point where it seemed I was only just barely surviving that scrutiny, until eventually it all came to a breaking point–a crossroad–when I turned in one particularly awful performance in my sophomore year at college, which resulted in re-directing my life away from the university for a time, and propelled me toward the events which took place in each of the far-flung locations I have been describing this past year as a young soldier, winding his way through the labyrinth of spiritual awakening.
There are challenges for me these days, but I have been seeking guidance and support and remain hopeful that November will be a first step in a positive direction. Thanks to all my readers and friends for your patience and comments!