Monday, July 14, 2008

"One must keep on looking..."

I wrote what follows in May, after the end of spring lacrosse seasons but before the beginning of summer adventures. Now, it resonates with passages at the end of To The Lighthouse, when Lily is having her vision, or struggling to have it as the case may be. What I wrote below is about how an artistic moment happens passively. What Lily knows is that after these fortunate incidents, we must hang on.

"Phrases came. Visions came. Beautiful pictures. Beautiful phrases. But what she wished to get hold of was that ery jar on the nerves, the thing itself before it has been made anything. Get that and start afresh... It was a miserable machine, an inefficient machine, she thought, the human apparatus for painting or for feeling; it always broke down at the critical moment; herocially, one must force it on."

"One must keep on looking without for a second relaxing the intensity of emotion, the determination not to be put off, not to be bamboozled. One must hold the scene - so - in a vise and let nothing come in and spoil it."

Lately, perhaps because I have few tasks to complete and no schedules to follow, life seems a meager and humble struggle to keep things tidy. It consists of simple and forgettable tasks like folding the clothes and emptying the sink and deleting an irrelevant email and picking up the keys off this table and placing them where they will be remembered, on that desk.

As I go through these actions, which are too minute to deserve the title chores, the phrase that often enters my mind is "daily struggle against cacophony." I know that what I mean is entropy, or perhaps chaos, and not the rattles and buzzes of cacophony. But I stay with the metaphor which apparently has deep roots in my subconscious because this word, cacophony, appears gutturally at all routine moments. I am taking a shit. Cacophony. I am watering the rosebush. Cacophony. I am tossing the old coffee grounds in the trash bin. Cacophony.

My everyday life seems one cymbal-filled, slowly rising and randomly dissonant morning. Most sensory input is subtle, like the vibrations of a far away speaker: the buzz of the refrigerator, the gradient of heat from where I sleep to the window, the unobtrusive blue of the carpet.

And then there are moments which are like locating a clean and clear note somewhere inside the labyrinthine pith of cacophonous and thick sounds. I look in my rearview mirror and see the sea, and the slow red of sunset, and I realize that there is a rhythmic beat underneath all of this, yes, and that beat moves me through dusk to sleep and then a next day. The beat allows me to be happy; or my happiness enables the beat. Either way, I suddenly and firmly know that the perfect reflection of the ocean means I should be here, despite all the times my daily routine seems pointless, empty, and insignificant. I do not have a future in the sense in which the educated elite in their early 20s are expected to have one - that is, a career on the horizon. Nor do I have a future in the job-marriage-401k sense in which members of the middle class are expected to have one. Instead, I have daily cacophony, and the occasional peal of a clear note. I have a simple horizon. And I am perfectly happy.

16 may 2008

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