Category Archives: Allegory

The After Is Missing The Only Thing

It is unimaginable the road that led me here. I walked it with an enthusiasm that eluded me before. The path seemed so clear, my eyes so focused, and my vision unclouded. I wish everyone could experience the joy of such certainty.

I’m sitting here, looking out the window at a sun slowly sliding down. The prisms hanging in the window take me to another place, a place I can’t call mine. All windows open to the same world; that much is true. But when it is you who have changed, the window loses its allure.

I weigh less than 165 lbs. Six months ago, I weighed 65 lbs more. I still can’t believe it. I fold myself into this chair and wonder how much life I crammed into those intervening months.

I shaved my beard down after allowing it to grow as long as it has in 20+ years. It wasn’t a decision so much as an obligation that boiled out of me in a rapid exercise of momentary certainty. I used the raw edge of the trimmer’s blade and failed to follow up with a razor.

I’m boiled away to me, raw.

My muse is absent. The silence is painful, hurtful, and uncomfortable. It’s my price to pay, even as I struggle to understand it.

The filaments that have sustained me became gossamer and intangible in a way that shocked me. I held my breath, summoning optimism, hope, and love to my defense.

This morning, I woke up to the surprising illumination of a solar light that somehow charged and lit up the entire night.

The next day will come.

I fear that my stumble has stolen an essential piece of me.

It is a cosmic coincidence that this day precedes the time change. Were it so that I could burst forth to the day when my muse returns.

I find myself looking out the window, between noted words, calling my muse back to my branch. The prisms hanging there beckon, their magic in plain sight.

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I’ll include this picture of me from earlier as a comparison. For the briefest of moments, I held my muse in my heart.

And in the above picture, I took it accidentally while trying to get a picture of my crazy vest. It didn’t fit before. And I slipped into another one of those many moments where I simply didn’t recognize my body as my own. These moments only carry their significance forward when you have a reason to share them.

A Moment At The Window

After a night of turbulence both inside my head and outside in the soaring sky, I listened to the thunder roll away out in the early morning hours. I peeked through the blinds in astonishment. I noticed that one of the many solar lanterns from last season’s yard project was somehow still illuminated, its white light shining particularly brightly even against the rain. What force charged it yesterday is an open question. How it maintained its brilliance after so many hours, another. However it may have done so, for this day, it was a much-needed reminder. Energy is energy and must find its outlet. I hope that for today, our energies produce surprises and radiance. We all need it. Spring is easy in its approach; hope is its byproduct. Not everyone we meet today will have Spring in their hearts, even if a smile is their camouflage. For me, at that moment in the window, a smile briefly touched my heart. .

Rainbow girl

Rainbow Girl walked across the expanse of the cemetery, turning about halfway. The dozens of prisms she’d placed carefully in the oak tree branches shimmered like floating diamonds. The rear perimeter of the property held a dozen large oak trees, each with outreaching and drooping limbs. March had not yet relinquished winter, leaving the trees unencumbered by the approaching greenery of budding leaves.

I watched her from several rows away. A year had passed since my brother died. Without a plan in mind, I came to visit the grave he insisted on having, even after being cremated. To my surprise, some of the pain of his loss and his wasted last few years weighed heavily on my heart.

Even if she had detected my presence, I would not have affected her. It was the first time I had witnessed her. Stories about her floated around time from time to time. Most were fantastical and exaggerated. It was apparent she was no more than a young woman.

I looked away for a moment to glance at my cellphone. When my eyes found Rainbow Girl again, she ran toward the oak trees in the back and then began a pirouette, one anchored by her outflung arms. She spun faster and faster. Her black hair swung freely across her face and shoulders. When she stopped, several rainbow patterns from the prisms around her painted her face, arms, and torso. I felt as if I were witnessing a ritual. I was mesmerized.

With her arms still out, she turned toward me and waved her right hand, beckoning me to join her. Without hesitation, I quickly walked toward her. She waited, even as the prisms slowly moved with the breeze in the branches holding them. Her lips were painted bright red.

She spun her index finger around. I realized she wanted me to spin as she had. I looked down to see no rainbows across my torso or legs.

I expected to feel foolish. I didn’t. I inexpertly began to spin. After five turns, I knew I might be unsteady on my feet, so I stopped.

Rainbow Girl smiled, revealing white teeth. The smile reached her eyes, and a rainbow from one of the prisms above rested across the bridge of her nose. I smiled back at her.

She pointed at my chest.

Looking down, I saw several rainbows coloring my shirt and arms. Rainbow Girl motioned with her hand to tell me that she could see several across my face.

I laughed. Rainbow Girl spun several more times and stopped. By no means I could detect, the number of rainbows across her body had doubled. I repeated my slower spins. To my surprise, I, too, had twice as many rainbows across my body. Rainbow Girl tilted her head and smiled as wide as any smile I had ever witnessed.

She put her right hand over her heart and pointed up to the trees and March sky above. I did likewise. I felt a thousand points of multi-colored lights assail my eyes. When I looked back toward Rainbow Girl, she was covered in dozens of prism splotches, each faintly distinguished by incredibly vivid colors.

She motioned for me to cover my eyes. I reluctantly did so, blocking the beautiful mix of colors. I waited.

After a few seconds, I opened my eyes. Rainbow Girl was gone. A single prism rainbow painted the leaves on the cemetery grass. I smiled, a smile that grew across my face like the green of spring spreading over a field.

Minutes passed as I stood in the grass, wondering about Rainbow Girl and thinking about my life and that of my brother. As I walked past my brother’s grave, I noted a single rainbow across his name. I laughed.

Message received.

If you have the pleasure of seeing someone you love bathed in rainbows, take a moment to experience the magic of light rendered as color. And if you see Rainbow Girl, let her take the heaviness from your heart.

Love, X
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“What’s Remembered, Lives” Nomadland

The title of this, “What’s remembered, lives,” is a quote attributed to the father of Frances McDormand’s character, Fern. It’s a pithy encapsulation of a truth many of us remember when we lose someone close. Fern finds herself trapped in a self-fulfilling cocoon of memory.

I tried “Nomadland” without knowing much about it. I heard buzz about it before. Frances McDormand seems to bring depth to everything. Though she’s not a classic beauty, she’s aged beautifully. Despite being sixty-four, she appears nude in this movie and does not shirk from any realistic depiction of her character. Some moments will shock you, but none of them are gratuitous.

Frances McDormand’s character is experiencing the hollow of life after her husband died. The town they lived in died due to economics. She travels in a van as a nomad. Each place she visits greets her with fascinating and complicated people, many of whom are portrayed by ‘real’ people from the nomad movement.

It was one continuous, unutterable emotion rendered as a movie.

I might compare it to a dream, one punctuated by hyperrealistic moments that don’t let you flinch away from them. The scenery is beautiful, as is the simple music by Ludovico Einaudi. (Who I discovered accidentally a couple of years ago.) There is an odd assortment of live music in the movie, and all of it is performed with creative intimacy – by people you would love to get to know.

The movie paces with an intentional speed that might confuse some people. This movie is a bit of poetry and prose set in motion. It might well be a creative second cousin to Pat Conroy’s writing.

If I had to compare this movie to something, I might say it’s a photograph of the love of your life found after a violent storm, half-hidden in debris. Or a woman’s beautiful singing voice rendered hoarse from exertion. The beauty is bare for you to see.

Like I always do, I found little pieces of myself in this movie, and in unexpected places.

As for the ending, after Fern experiences her catharsis, it is evident that Fern chooses herself and the nomad life over one filled with people and intimate love. She is a nomad once again.

She will see us all later, though.

When One Door Slams

Tessa stood near the living room window, staring through the cold glass. She hadn’t slept during the night. In the odd illumination that accompanies some winter snowfall, Tessa watched the footprints fill with snow.

Around six o’clock last night, when the shouting finally stopped, and the front door slammed, she watched him stomp away through the snow. Her heart filled with dread, and her face washed with tears that couldn’t find a suitable place to end. He left a trail of meandering footprints in the snow, his feet imprinting the snow with a line of steps reaching the road. He climbed into his friend’s car without looking back. After so many years, he was gone.

He’d slammed the door and left her alone many evenings in the last few years. She found herself worried with fear that he would find something outside in the world to keep him from returning. Even after he belittled her and made her feel worthless, she repaid his scorn with loyalty. She stayed up, sleepless, and consumed with being alone.

Last night, when the door slammed, Tessa jumped with fear. A few moments later, she also felt an unfamiliar sensation well up. Relief. She shook her head in an attempt to convince herself she was mistaken. The solar lights she carefully placed throughout the yard last summer glimmered against the white snow. As the light faded in the winter sky, she noted how beautiful they were. She also remembered how badly he mocked her for buying them. He pointed out that they’d make mowing harder. She felt a flicker of anger, considering he didn’t do any of the yard work. That the solar lights had charged sufficiently to come on at all surprised her.

As the night progressed, Tessa found herself at the window, the curtains held to both sides. His snowy footprints were slowly filling as the night progressed. The solar lights continued to shine.

Tessa returned to the window with greater frequency. The relief she initially fought filled her. As the footprints became almost invisible, her relief began to feel more like hope. She stood motionless at the window for at least an hour. Without realizing she could no longer see the imprint of her departed husband’s feet, she burst into tears. The snow fell with greater fury.

By four a.m., the solar lights went below the falling snow. The snow carried a bright yellowish bulb of light under the surface.

Shortly before seven, Tessa put on her snow boots, a pair her Grandmother gave her for Christmas fifteen years ago. She still had on her one thick robe. As sunlight began to strengthen, on a whim, Tessa went outside and took long steps into the snow, all the way to the street. She turned and stared back at the house. Suddenly, Tessa didn’t feel lonely. She stomped her way back to the house.

Impulsively, she took her cellphone from her robe pocket and took a picture of the buried solar light and her deep footprints in the snow.

Without a doubt, she knew her light would resurface. Her footprints would dissipate, but she’d remain.

For the first time, she felt at peace.

Tessa remained there, near the living room window, standing in the snow for a few minutes. She felt the magic of the moment hovering over her and whispering in a voice she couldn’t quite discern. When she went back inside, she made a pot of coffee.

Tessa took a cup of black coffee and stood in front of the living room window again. As she looked outside, the solar lights dimmed and went off. Her footprints remained.

Tessa smiled and took a sip of her coffee.

Momentary

The birds accumulated on the wire, arriving in bursts, their weariness from flying already subsiding. They stared down at the humans below as the drama escalated. In exchange for a short life, the birds have the freedom of flight and a disavowal of worry. As the people below shouted against the earless wind, the birds rose in unison from the wire. They flew away, destination undetermined, God’s creatures simply living. The people below briefly glanced upward, seeing the momentary beauty, then once again turned to the needless and cyclical fray of their lives. The birds receded from sight.

Birds On A Wire, Mind On Fire

I looked out across the untraveled road, beyond the sunset-prismed sky. I listened as the birds clumsily and noisily converged. Their collective landing was awkward and unplanned, yet stunning in its unchoreographed simplicity. They transitioned from aerial to perched. I removed my rose-colored glasses to discover that the sky was as vivid and chromatic as I imagined and that the birds were indeed sovereign in their place. Though I had no words for them as they chattered, I nodded, knowing that the birds on the wire reminded me that optimism is a natural state of being. I put my glasses on the ground and walked away from the deepening sky. The birds remained, eternal in their perch.

She Spoke To Me In Silence

Like your heart, once rendered granite, she can no longer fly, offer any embrace or consolation, nor help you find the humanity you’ve lost as you’ve aged.

She sits in the valley, immobile and stripped of her gifts of joy, laughter, and love.

No matter how intelligent you are, the parts of you worth salvaging almost always echo with meaning through others.

If experience taught you to value the wedges and justifications you’ve accumulated, you’ve learned the wrong lesson.

People will inevitably lead you to ruin; they also sometimes shock you with embrace and understanding. It is best that you not seek a manner to gauge men’s mercurial and uncertain hearts.

She waits, without hourglass or expectation, surrounded by beauty.

When you are ready, she will fly again.

Once Upon A Time

I waved hello to the girl standing at the end of the trailer. Though the trailer had probably seen its last tenant, the little girl would grow up to touch thousands of people. She didn’t understand that the voice in her head was incapable of silence. As happens in so many similar places, the cauldron’s circumstance made it difficult for her to talk above a whisper. She would leave the place. Such places and the people who inhabit them touch us deeply and rob us of our ability to flourish.

I waved again, though decades of intervening history lie like a chasm between us.

Because no good act goes unheard in a just world, my small voice and gesture caught her attention. Time became diaphanous.

She looked up inquisitively. I felt her as she saw me wave.

Impossibly, she began to shout. The silence was no longer her prison.

The Rueful life

Whether or not feeling well warped my sense of self or feeling something inside me well up intolerably, I went out into the world for what I thought was the shortest of intervals today. Though you might doubt me, those moments stretched into a length that flowed without end.

Most people use the word ‘rueful’ in an exaggerated negative sense. I prefer the term to mean “expressing sorrow or regret, tinged with humor.” Those are the sublime connotations that often fuel me. Humor is what shields me; bittersweet fringes give me pause to ponder at the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of life. Swimming in the valley between them is a blessing interspersed with the unknown horizon.

My limited interactions while out in the world today reminded me of life’s sublime ability to be filled with our exclusive perceptions. Today’s moments were wrapped in the lightest of gauze and applied with gentle attention. To walk in a world so gossamer each day would be my undoing.

Such attention to the essential ruins us in our endless and needless desire to see the things around us instead of our interconnections.

During the first encounter, the female clerk ran across the recently-mopped floor, risking life and limb simply because she thought a customer might have waited too long. She made eye contact with me, and I said, “Please don’t worry. Nothing at hand deserves any stress.” While she wore a mask, I could see her eyes widen in curiosity. Her eyes then darted behind me as she noted another customer behind me tapping his foot and shifting his weight.

It’s when the shift I felt toppled inside me and made me lopsided.

As she handed me back the change, I tapped it and said, “This is for you, if you can accept it. And if not, let it be for someone who will soon approach who needs it.” Her eyes widened and became tear-laden. She nodded, unable to say anything. Not from awkwardness or loss of words, because whatever became momentarily off-kilter inside me became the same for her. It was tangible.

I walked away. The next two interactions were similar, even though it would be easy to dismiss them as figments of my feverish mind.
*

“With careful toes, I pranced through my life, to awaken no one. And in so doing, the ones who should have noted my passing failed to look up and witness me.”