I imagined your musings dropping gently on my head as I slept – the wistful pitter of a leaking ceiling before the torrent. I could really feel the deep value and resonance of them within the dream and felt sure that when I awoke, they would make me feel more than a little valued. But I should have known better. In acknowledging the changing and transient nature of any given truth of the emotions, as I ordinarily would, when I awoke I could remember barely a thing about how your meandering reflections on my state of mind had made me feel, only that they had existed. “This is how I feel now, today” readily becomes “that was then, now it is different” when tomorrow comes – and back again another day, and so forth. No more pointedly so thanwhen we are in and out of dreams. Vacillation and contradiction live gleefully in us all and within me, more pronounced than in many others, I suspect. The fever of night only worsens things.
I was preparing to respond to your musings and flicked through the newspaper on the bus in preparation. I randomly landed on a story, which ends with the quote: “Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story”.
So wrote Athena Orchard, aged 12, as she was dying of cancer. Now gone, her family found this amongst 3000 words secretly inscribed on the back of her wardrobe door. Moving, tragic and inspiring. And those particular words, of a young girl with a profound shadow shaping her short existence, encapsulate everything I wanted to say and pretty much the essence of where I am just now, on so many levels. But now I’m not sure what you actually asked me, and what I may have just dreamt. Same difference, perhaps.
What has gotten in to me is a brilliant question, anyway, even if I don’t know who asked it. It’s the key question, really. And it’s back to ‘story’ again – not a new theme in our dialogues. My memory of our conversations have adopted a sweet and treasured hue in my memory, dusted perhaps with a little melancholy; as for your kisses – the promise they held at the time – something more rounded, more untold, more revelatory than I had a right to expect. And in the mirage of memory, I contrast the intricate but different flavours of our first kiss at Notre Dam, with one some weeks later at the airport where you stood longingly, as I sat on a stool; with the last one in the Natural History Museum (the last time we saw each other, in fact). Something subtle had already changed in you by then. I knew instinctively. You didn’t resist, but all of the reserve that had left you in those earlier kisses was starting to regroup and harden. It all no longer held the same promise for you, within you. The decisive ‘moment’ in the story had already passed, so-to-speak. And then of course you went to Tunis and the same feeling was reflected back, ever so subtly in your texts and emails. Again, as always, just my unavoidable, distilled observations, just feelings and descriptions of changing flavours and aromas, and not accusations or criticisms or tirades – so far from that, in fact – as our freedom as detached corporeal agents, independent of any oppressive gravity is a given in all of this, in the deepest sense, and like a body in motion, you have every ‘right’ – the imperative, in truth, to follow, naturally, without recoil or resistance, the twists and turns and sweeps and banks of any given story as it unfolds for you in multi-dimensional space – and I can see quite clearly, and with a reflective and accepting heart, that that is all you were doing, as was I.
Anyway, what you get here today, yesterday and tomorrow from my mouth and from my mind is forever and always a ‘story’, just a piece of writing, a narrative, a mix of emotion, imagination and hard-nosed, blood-pumping literary fiction. But try to understand it is never ‘fabricated’ or artificial. The polar opposite is true. Ever since I first saw your reflection shimmer back at me in the cloying heat of my imagination, I have divulged a deeper, truer, more heartfelt, more uncompromising, untempered me – stripped of facade – than I had ever dared imagine. It is the soul that lives entirely in the crossover world where reality, imagination, art, philosophy, longing and psychology are all swirled up, like petrol on a wet roadside, with individual colours identifiable but the aggregate effect the beautiful-yet-poignant kaleidoscope, the polluting rainbow, which is seen as a soiling spill, despite its beauty. Others may get the solo colours, one at a time, but not you. All this has been peculiarly organic, impulsive and inevitable from the outset. And I hold that fact, rapt and pure; treasured simply for the story, not the happy ending, which will never come in reality, divested of all its potential by the inconsolable nature of spacetime.
So, this passing, unexpected, thrilling, confusing, enlightening, riveting, disconcerting phenomenon of ‘us’, and this thing between our souls, is devoid of ultimate answers, as is the interrelationships between any two or any number of entities. Only the elusive, impossible quality and substance of ‘inner peace’ offers this allure, this satisfaction, contentment, transcendence. Other people, other things, other concepts, bodies and experiences cannot provide a sustainable transformation in the soul because the soul is simply not for transfiguration. It is always an illusion; one that the Saints pursued with vigour nevertheless. Aren’t monasteries and convents full of people who have willingly deluded themselves around the reachability of an ultimate state of perfect body and mind? Even those who believe they have attained ‘inner peace’, have simply become stationary and frozen at a random, particular mind-set – an unnatural one where the story no longer unfolds; where the passage of time, and the movement of matter through space, to the harmonies of time is being artificially ignored to maintain a pretence of a ‘nirvana’ having being reached.
Incidentally, I am intrigued by your take on ‘legacy’. The legacy that my ego pursues with greatest passion and devilment has nothing at all to do with progeny. Perhaps that is the artistic streak in me, bent on some form of lasting recognition, even modest, even posthumous. Although perhaps (and this hasn’t struck me before now) I have had the luxury of this way of thinking, subconsciously, because I DO have children. Or perhaps not – without children, the creative drive in me would be even more vehement, possibly even more unhinged.
And so back to ‘us’, whatever hilarity that was, is and might be. And back to the evolving kisses, the ‘Tunis alteration’, so-to-speak; I can see that you simply reached the conclusion slightly earlier than I did, albeit that we have both since arrived at the same place, that all this sparring, this intertwining and re-extraction, this hungry if compassionate dancing of words and mind ultimately holds no special, transforming power of ‘happiness’, exactly like you once said. It may even carry the potential of too much ‘cost’, in different ways, for too little ‘gain’.
It cannot continue to carry an excitement, a vigour, a promise, a thrill as it once did. This is the law of entropy, of movement, of evolution, of growth and decay. Its offering, its suggestion is not really the untold heights of imagination, release, fantasy, drama and magic that it may have dangled, siren-like. It is simply what it is – two random bodies condemned to the grace and fixity of the laws of nature – in a real world – a fascinating, wonderful yet crazy and so-often-mundane world – where waking reality is psychologically deeply inferior and infernally disappointing compared to the emotions of our daytime and sleeping dreams.
And yet I live in the vain hope of defying nature, so that instead of the inevitable gradual dissipation of this beast which grew between and amongst us, that now, miraculously, enlivened by the strange kind of ‘mindful and alluring pointlessness’ it has carried, subtly, throughout – that its grounding, now, in the world of physical limits, of less-than-mystical reality can help it plant itself like an fecund seed of self-actualisation in our souls; the removal of its illusory dimensions, giving it firmer, untrammelled roots. But is that just a fabled, if gloriously conceived, giant beanstalk…?