The wind is rising

“Le vent se lève! . . . il faut tenter de vivre!
L’air immense ouvre et referme mon livre,
La vague en poudre ose jaillir des rocs!
Envolez-vous, pages tout éblouies!
Rompez, vagues! Rompez d’eaux rejouies
Ce toit tranquille où picoraient des focs!”
– Paul Valéry, Le Cimetière marin

The above is an extract from an incredibly beautiful poem which, although it is extremely complicated and peppered with ambiguous imagery, resonates strongly with me. I feel that it speaks of choice; to live, or to die; to mourn, or to celebrate; to be blown by the wind, or to run with it. I love the story it tells, of a ‘climb to revelation’ and what it reveals to the narrator about himself. I found this poem when I endeavored to track down the line; “Le vent se lève! . . . il faut tenter de vivre!”  which features in the film The Wind Rises, by Hayao Miyazaki. it means the wind is rising! . . . we must try to live! This film resonates as profoundly with me as the poem does, but why? I’ve explained to most people, with whom I’ve had the conversation, that it has to do with simplicity, but now I think there might be more  to it than that. The film follows the life of an aeronautical engineer, as he pursues his passion in his career. There is not much about the story that excites awe, or fear, or the combining reverence, yet it is beautiful and inspiring to me.

Put that thought aside.

Throughout my life, I have been labelled a “day-dreamer”and justifiably so; my mind has wondered through as many worlds that exist, as worlds that do not, with a common goal for both: To make sense of my world, where sense is lacking, or to create nonsense where there is too little of it to properly get lost in. I recognised that without sense, my world would function in a way that rendered me almost entirely passive, as I would never know what to expect, or how to prepare for it, or what to do when it was upon me. I recognised too, that with only sense to govern my world, life would never hold a mystery to excite my passions. All would be expected and prepared for, so that wouldn’t do either. All my days of daydreaming served to develop a keen understanding of the importance of both sense and nonsense in the world.

Put that thought aside too.

Charlotte Brontë writes, in Jane Eyre, of a plain girl’s journey to womanhood. Throughout the novel, the reader enjoys the thrill of being directly addressed by the heroine of the story, as she recounts her journey from her own perspective. This style of narration results in so many social roles, that society feeds off, to be cast under the most scrutinising gaze of the young miss Eyre. Simultaneously, miss Eyre’s ability to be so reserved and courteous in her scrutiny, forces the reader to revisit his/her own ideas of the potential of plainness v beauty. In short, plainness wins and by the time it does, one finds oneself rooting for that very outcome.

Hold that thought.

So, a poem, a movie, a dream and a book; what does it all add up to? It’s a sort of life philosophy that explores what it means to fully live. The combination teaches of rising above the situation you find yourself in; pain is inevitable, but you have some say in what hurts you and the only say in how you choose to react to that pain. Life moves forward whether we want it to, or not so, will you be blown by the wind, or run with it? I’m choosing to run with it, but that requires a measure of belief in the nonsensical because I can’t see where I’m going and I have no idea what to expect when I get there- but I can prepare myself for it.

And now to put it all together…

What better kind of preparation for a life that runs with the wind than to wholeheartedly trust and commit all desires and fears to Jesus? That’s the sense in my world, where I’ve learned that even the most sturdy of friendships can change over night. Placing your hope in anything that relies on human beings- in all our imperfection- is a mistake and that’s what I see in every one of the fore-mentioned art forms (yes, day-dreaming is an art). I think what moves me in Valéry’s poem, is the recognition from the narrator that he is flawed. In Miyazaki’s film, I find a breath-holding thrill in watching a life pass, knowing that how it passes (only) is in the main character’s power, but he has no power over the fact that it does pass. In the case of Jane Eyre, It’s her ability to remain faithful to God that fascinates me. Too often, when happiness has offered to enter my life, at some small cost to my integrity or self-respect, I have thought myself blessed and gratefully welcomed it, but Jane does not. Instead, she runs from what she recognises as temptation in the guise of blessing (ie, a wolf in sheep’s clothing) and for her faith, she is rewarded with true blessings, ones that don’t hold a bitter after-taste. The beauty of Jane’s faith puts all other offered concepts of beauty to shame, because hers is the only kind of beauty (in the novel) that matters. I want to be like Jane.

I think it’s time that we recognise our potential to do great things. Imagine living a life where you know that where you are right now is exactly where you should be, that you couldn’t be worth more doing anything anywhere else, than doing what you’re doing now and here. That’s the kind of life that God calls us to- He calls us to run with the wind, so get up and go.

What are you waiting for?

Soldier On

You and I, we have our dreams.
In them we are dancers,
praised in our still-most moments
where ésprit et visage unitedly reflect our depths
and in the silence,
our whispers become intimate with those dreams,
the distance between them as broad as a blink.
They look a lot like what it would look like,
if a shooting star and a grape vine were to notice one another
and just stop; for the sake of the memory.
But our silent dreams do little to drown out the sounds of reality.
Here, it’s noisy-
every earlobe drenched in the sounds of our unified steps-
and some of us are a little broken.
We’ve been through the walls to bear our bumps and bruises
as reminders
of how much it hurt to get to where we are now.
Worth it,
doesn’t quite fit what it feels like to have made it to today.
Our hands are rugged,
our shoes are torn,
our smiles falter when you look at us
our blisters are nomadic;
they travel through our hearts like footprint-smudges
of the names that once played there.
You call us warriors,
but we are like soldiers -following orders,
shooting whenever and whomever
General Life commands.
You get caught in the cross-fire and then call us
barbarians,
but we are still the same,
it is only your perception of us that has changed.
we are not fickle.
Our stories falsely inspire those who fail to understand,
and most of them fail:
We don’t like hugs,
because each touch from you sears our already too-tender skin
with promises of care
that do little more than just hang there,
between us.
It’s not that we need your love-
it’s that we recognise how little you need ours
and that hurts.
“Soldier on”, you say.
Like that isn’t all we’ve been trained to do.
Like we haven’t been soldiering longer than we’ve known you.
Like being a soldier is something to be proud of.
Like you’re not going to walk away the first time you get shot.
Like it’s not going to hurt us when you do.
But it will- and when it does,
we’ll just keep soldiering on until it fixes things like you promised us it would.
But it won’t,
because it never does.
Yet here we are,
soldiering on like you told us to.

It’s a stoic outlook we nurse-
each soldier for his or her own reasons,
but she is different.
Fossils will fall from the creases of her feet if you find her today.
There will be footprints of purpose
stroking the dew-kissed leaves she passes
and petals will quiver beneath her breath,
as the tears that fall from her jawline
bring life to ant-necropolis.
She is the mourning goddess
in search of a wintering that frosted her bosom and her lips
and in a fated act of preordained kisses and Kings,
married the sting to her skin.
Today is the most beautiful day of her sorrow;
it looks just the same as when faith slipped from her embraces
to find comfort in the company of
earthworms and bones and rotting flesh.
She is the mourning goddess
with fossils that fall from the creases of her feet
as she glides to the grave-place where faith lay today.
If you are still enough,
she might drip truth from her lips,
perhaps even open them wide enough for a tongue to perch upon their breadth
and swallowfully preen its featherweight promises
from the barely-alive flesh
it sings odes to.
Her starlit hair reminisces deaths she has already suffered,
as she awaits the wished-upon recognition
of a life long passed,
but only now leaving us.
She mourns each second that leaves without her.
We,
watching,
weep for each tear that drops upon our death-city
commissioned by love lost and washed away.
Forgetting his place,
he wrote about the last day
before she found rest
in the blistering heat of a sun,
not ours.
She walks,
crumbling fossils in her stead.
We watch,
small as insects bedding old memories
with the rippled earth
that the creases of her feet leave to us.
The dust kicked up by hurried steps-
in some other direction-
filters through the ruins,
but still,
eyes are pressed upon our mourning goddess.
Her wails creep between our bones,
pinching our heels
until the feeling is lost,
until we can’t count how many of our pieces we’ve lost,
until she falls back in-line
and marches silently on,
with the rest of us.

He
is an empty promise to his mirror
of the man he always swore he would be.
A wrong ingredient on the shopping list.
A hi 5 that just missed.
He doesn’t quite fit in.
They call him Titan,
not the bloody-brute type,
but the type that’s just too tall
to stand up in the world.
They call him Titan,
because he walks hunched-over
like his back was made to cradle the world.
They call him Cronus,
Aries,
Titan,
because he doesn’t look like he’d ever know how to love,
because “if I was his son, I’d want to banish him too”,
because there just aren’t  enough shadows in this world
to hide monsters
“like you”.
They call him Titan,
because his heart is an erratic, thundering beat-
to the untrained ear,
perhaps,
but in that dreamed-of stillness
you can hear it a little clearer…
there’s a chanting in his chambers.
That single word, barely whispered.
Titan,
over and over.
Titan,
trying on the name like a bullet-proof vest that’s too big.
Titan,
making it fit.
Titan,
owning it.
“Titan!”
it drives him to rally the masses,
shouting,
“Let’s be our own titan-types!
Lets wield pens
and leave our ink-prints all over this earth’s young surface.
Virgin word-roots, we’ll rip
from their unyielding pages
and give new life
in the richness of our own writing.
Even Gaya would be pleased
to see such garden-rite
audacity”.

But all this plays out only
with our young soldier’s pen;
his tongue has not been strong enough
to roar saplings to life
since they gave him a gun
and pushed him
to march silently on
with the rest of us.

“Soldier on”, you say,
and we do.
Waiting for all the promises
of healed bruises and blisters
to be true.

STAIRWELL’S CONTEMPLATION

“Could it be a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done?”

Footsteps drag through the empty building.
His eyes close.
He knows the sun is brushing the outside walls,
(Not too early to be noticed in the halls).
Routine has allowed him the assumption..
sunlight stretching, never to touch him,
towering cold stone that encases instead.
July 30th 2014
to rest.

For the first time, he realises the cruelty of being on the third floor the moment he walks through its doors.

A pause.

A breath.

The first stage of his stairwell journey commences. Choosing not to take the elevator, he notes that this is an endeavour to savour. His goal leaps 18 floors above and rests 16 floors below, he knows they will ask questions amungst themselves, but never feel the relief of truth in their assumptive answers.

He is now on the fifth floor, Adrenalin burns through his chest, he cant remember all the steps “should I turn back? I’m not ready for this!” but is anyone ever really ready for death? The wall before him asks for his hand, says; “I am the only one you have to lean on now.” Shoulders tensed; he is out of breath, so loosens the faucet of his thoughts to quench his questioning soul with waters of “This is why i was never whole!” Allowing all of them to run out, he mulls them over, sips, and lets them go. But just as the last of his reasonable doubt falls out, his darkest head-space illuminates the vintage aches as he purposefully ascends his last day. The first of these dusted bottle memories is firmly corked. a deathly red swirls inside. Anxiety screws itself deep within his mind as he anticipates the flooding boquet. “okay”, he says, releasing a shaky breath as a surprisingly sweet scent teases teardrops from his eyes. “Mom” he sighs and spills her into Limbic glass. Lips greet like ‘good night baby’- kisses from all those years ago. Liberated, he lets the taste, touch, and smell of her go. The shift in mental weight forces him to walk faster and lighter than he would have liked, but every second that strikes-on is one second too long, and every step that he takes uncorks a new vintage ache until there is no more left to seduce his resolve from the window-sill that the tread of his shoes now desperately hold.

September 1st 2014. Less  tears are shed this time around the body hiding month-old stains of a vineyard’s last wine. Less stares are met with the man lying on a bed of cement. Less subtleties are passed to mask the tragedy of the second suicidal leap of this quarter. His last word was a scream to wake the dead as he joined them with a sound like a gun shot to the head, He could have done that instead. “do you feel alive yet?” she wept between angry gasps of breath. She mourned him. Not because she had ever known his story or his name, but because he took her hopes of “It gets better than this” with him to the grave.