“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?