Thursday, July 31, 2008

Flight: Part One

When I dive from the cliff, nobody catches me . . .

I can barely conceal the smile on my face as I glide--

The joy of being able to launch myself at once into a separate sphere, gives me a supreme satisfaction, an indescribable feeling.

Levitation is a consummate thrill. Floating is even wilder and more insane to imagine. And flight is beyond comprehension.

While I’m flying over giant clusters of people just as if they were pixels on a vast screen, I realize that my secret ability to fly has come to me in the time of an emergency.

Flying is not a part of my daily routine, you see.

I realize that something was threatening me on the ground, and that’s why I suddenly took flight. An impression of the primal scene still haunts me, vague pictures floating restlessly in the back of my mind, distant as memories.

The crowds on the ground are trying to keep up with me. They’re running after me as if they too might bolt into the air. They don’t look like pixels anymore. More like gazelles, running in loose herds; the undulant rhythm of their hind-legs beats like a drum on the African plain.

The beasts of the savanna are chasing me with delight.

For the rest of the dream, I soar over the majestic sweeping continent. Thorny acacias and palm trees spread throughout the vast swathes of grassland and marshes. I look down at the elephants which appear pensive and sad. They are monuments of sadness. Grey lugubrious figures with heavy-thick skin, brooding eternally over the land.

Then: long-necked giraffes carrying messages to the tall trees, whispering all sorts of secrets to the leafy vegetation; they chew in serene self-possession. White rhinos are transfigured into kingly creatures who command respect from the tribes.

The striking zebras graze indolently on the pastures. From my birds-eye, their vivid stripes evoke a mesmerizing contrast to the dry, parched lands.

Flying seems to be the simplest thing in the world.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Approaching the Cliff

The blank page is the only cliff I dare to stand over, fathoming the abyss with the thrilling calm of an explorer.

When did this fascination begin?

At ten years old I recall carrying little notebooks throughout the house. I would situate myself in the living room and brood over the pages, making scribbles and poetry.

My father once yelled at me for having too many journals. And that was even before I had more than two or three.

Today my bookshelves are lined with journals. There is also a place on the bottom shelf for journals that are unfinished or not marked in at all.

My mother was an avid diarist. But hers was a sketch diary which was filled with quotations from the books she read and some passages of her own.

She complained about my father in her diary.

Perhaps beginnings don’t really matter. We look back in vain, as through a kaleidoscope, attempting to piece together the mica and glass fragments of life. Each of us has a history which dissolves into colored images when we refer to it.

The past seems less like a cohesive narrative and more like a scattered photo album where the pictures are always changing places.

Strangely I’ve made it my life’s passion to weave the images of my past into books.

Life has the arc of a novel without holding the meaning inside. That’s our job, to give the novel of our lives structure and meaning, to organize the photo album and make labels, to develop the characters and the plot.

But where do urges come from? I mean the drive we have to attain our goals, to satisfy our desires. How does this drive relate to personal history?

My life has a definite goal; and there is a drive in me to fulfill that goal.

To tell you my goal would be to give away the secret. The secret I don’t even know. The secret I’m keeping from myself.

It seems God has concealed my goal; and I don’t even know if I believe in God.

If I could name this enigmatic goal, then perhaps I would be able to put down my pen, leave the computer alone, and stop checking email.

But I don’t know what the object of my existence is and that’s why I keep searching.

I accomplish trivial pursuits along the way. Occasionally I am gratified by my pursuits, literary or otherwise, but whatever I accomplish it never eclipses the desire within me to keep chasing down this larger, more luminous goal.

The goal I have no name for. The goal I cannot even describe.

The blank page holds infinite possibility. Now it occurs to me I can either fill the blank page of life with the words and descriptions of others: I can ventriloquize;

or I can attempt my own language. And describe the world as I see it. And describe myself as I feel things.

I don't follow any religion. I am out of college and have decided against graduate school. The place where I work does not require me to perform mind-numbing tasks.

I guess I've realized that I don’t have to be an echo anymore. I can be myself and speak in whatever words come to me.

If I don’t describe myself, then others will, right?

The Book of Innocence is a literal journey. I have many ideas, but ideas are mere and in life, things just happen, eluding our plans.

I stand over a great cliff, and look far ahead; where I can see nothing but the blank space of air--

the air I breathe which exilarates me and makes me want to jump.
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