Part 1, chapter two
But let me explain. Let me hopelessly explain why I cannot explain what I cannot help but try to explain.
Were it not for the fact that God dwells, and is worthy, in all people, I could not just now have so emphatically declared the gospel of my own idiosyncratic dissent, ascent, and descent. For life never follows an intended course, because there is no course here, there is only life. Here, where everyone dances their puppet-self on the ephemeral stage of Babylon; here there is no authority, there is only a ruleless dance, not danced rulelessly. Here, the sun shines, the trees twinkle, and the trumpets play Taps at a hero’s funeral, and yet there is no one around to hear the music except mourners, and so it seems such a waste, because the miracle hems us in as much as it inspires us, and so the glory and grief walk hand in hand and only a fool would choose to walk along with them, and only a madman would not. And that is why it seems such a waste. Though it isn’t. It just seems that way.
Most of us come into life without asking, and leave without knowing why. We laugh, strive, want, suffer, and cry. And yet there are times when life stands us back up, when life awakens us with a haunting. You see, I had lived so long within dreams of my own invention, that I had lived for so long without actually living. And then, somewhere in between it all, amongst the cacophony and the void, when the hold I had on life- or the hold life had on me- weakened as if from sublime intent …I began to remember. And in that remembrance I forgot without caring.
Many things I will never understand nor be capable of explaining: Why we are the way we are; why life is the way it is; when it all began, and where it is all headed- of these I have not a clue. There were many odd and unexpected experiences, mythical hallmarks, and sublime events throughout my journey, but, I suppose, this is the way it happens to us in this fantastic realm where being and becoming are both different and also the same, because what was is what will be, and what will be is what is, for time is a false matrix placed over a continuum, just as the acorn is the oak when seen through its continuance, and the song is the singer as long as the music goes on.
My song begins back when I was eight years old, and my family and I had moved for two months to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where my father was teaching at St. Mary’s University for the summer. During our stay we met and spent a great deal of time with another family which had two sons slightly older than myself. At the end of the summer our families were departing for different areas of the continent and, on the evening in which we said our goodbyes, I lay down for bed, not knowing if I would see this family- which I had grown to love- ever again. That night I experienced something immensely powerful, awakening, and destructive. The entire night I lay awake as if in a fever, though I had no fever, yet there was a tremendous battle between two opposed paradigms, or visions, going on somewhere deep inside me. In one vision I was on a gentle conveyor-belt with many others; there was a calm and peaceful feeling, and my body was seemingly immersed in a bath of harmonious energy. Then the vision would switch, and suddenly everyone would be contorted, and off the conveyor belt, thrashing their way manically down crazed and dirty streets, struggling to go forward, but being impeded by, and impeding, the flood of insane humanity coming the other way. In this second vision there was no peace, no respite, no harmony, and my body felt as if it were flung into a chaotic electrical maelstrom from which there was no escape. Then the whole show would flip over again, and the conveyor-belt scene and peaceful feeling would take over for a while, and then back again to the chaos and disharmony, and so on, the whole night, as I was flung continually between opposites, and lay pinned to the bed, an eight-year old kid who, as best as I can say now, had just begun his inexorable, head-long fall into the flesh.
Perhaps the troubling initiation I underwent, that night in Halifax, came about because, in parting from that family which I had quickly grown to love and enjoy, I was receiving the first brutal awakening to one of life’s darker characteristics- loss. I had begun to care, and, concomitantly, I had been cast out of the careless, quiescent realm of childhood, and into the trauma, confusion, and peacelessness of the flesh.
I see now that, in many ways, at eight years old I had actually not yet left the warm and protected chamber of the womb. Not until that night when the blissful glow of childhood was suddenly swept out from under me, the floor beneath me vanished, and with nothing to hold onto but the insanity of the world itself, I began the terrible and essential downward plunge from limitless play, into limitless troubles.
To be sure, it is a long and agonizing descent from the untroubled firmament, out of the womb, through the mind, into the heart, and down to earth.
A close friend of mine once shared a very telling dream she had of this sense of loss which our angelic nature suffers upon arrival in the world. She had dreamt of a community of winged people, who spent their days flying joyfully together in a mountainous canyon they had come to call home. One day, however, they were all captured by humans, had their wings cut off, and then were released to live out the rest of their days without the freedom so natural to them. After this horrible mutilation some of them tried their best to assimilate themselves into the human world, though they never really belonged, and continued to carry the burden of loss and sorrow to the end of their days; others retreated from mankind, and sat up high, overlooking the canyon, forever remembering when they were all together and free to fly; and some took a last flight off of those canyon walls, not being able to endure the pain of their new imprisonment.
As I write this down shivers are flowing into me from above, and tears are struggling not to fall, which is always a good sign that I have hit upon a truth. And though I have often felt as one of those whom had their wings clipped, and have anguished over freedoms I do not even remember losing, I see now that I have not come to this earth to mourn, to suffer, or to belong. I have come so as to once again learn how to fly. And yet, as I have found during the thirty-six years I have now been in this world, it is a different thing altogether to take wing as an angel, than to soar as a man.