Margaret realized the chaotic nature of our daily life, and its difference from the orderly sequence that has been fabricated by historians. Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes.
– E.M. Forster, Howard’s End
So we stand in the low sun and try to flush out need with questions. As if need is the fat, slithering shush roiling the fallen leaves. As if words are the stick driving it to face us.
Smelling of mud and green apple candy, we lean against each other and try to flesh out need. As if our voices can give shape to something that may have just been a hiccup in the breeze.
I remember when love was a surging state. It had to rise up and flood the senses and then loving acts followed. Much like confidence. Like hope.
This was truth unexamined.
When does the possibility of bidirectional causation emerge? Is it when you grow up?
Or does seeing the relationship turn back on itself finally make you grow up?
Now I understand this: Act as if the capacity exists and you make it appear. You make it appear to be so, yes, and also to take shape, to arrive. Accumulate enough instances of contrived appreciation or optimism or boldness, and you become enamored. Hopeful. Brave.
Maybe like me, you don’t buy any of it. You’re sure you are fooling yourself and it might all come crashing down. Maybe you sort of wish you believed your choices are good ones and could possess the kind of conviction that clarifies each subsequent decision. Maybe you sort of envy the positive thinkers (upbeat or certain or — worse yet — both).
Like me, maybe you suspect the equanimity that must accompany conviction will never balm your fears. Indeed, doubt may itch at you until the day you die.
Face it. You are too far gone for faith. Or maybe too much here. You would never seal those doors lining the corridors of perception. A mind that knows (knows!) it is always missing something only needs a pinhole to chase light to its source. Your curiosity is the thrumming, silver string. It is one note that strikes at your key. You could no more still it than you could give up sight. Or sex. Or speech.
Like me, you want to move towards something. Like you, I want to stop moving and be.
We pause and hold the map between us. We start to draw along the contours. Instantly, the delineation becomes a perimeter. A boundary.
Even just tracing a route with our voices, we hedge.
Precision is folly. Orderly sequence is illusion.
Because the trail we choose forks. It always does. Yellow blazes then green and then maybe none at all. And here is a river, and here is a burl on a dying oak in the shape of a devil with a broken horn. Here is a sound like a creaking open door. Here is the shush, the movement at the edge of sight, the tunnel out from under the bounds (the bonds) we trusted held us to this place, and this place to the earth.
We lean against each other, word as breath drawing need.
Drawing it out. Filling it in.
We decide it is in fact a snake. With nothing more to go on than a single word from me, you step into the now-still leaves. I sense it. You name it. We add it to a collection that includes a single yellow butterfly and five slender minnows darting from their shade.
Today’s choice is the only one.
To you, I hold.
Like you to me.