Monday, May 24, 2010

Earlier today, it was the heat

bearing down on us . . . the heat like a thousand rattlesnakes hissing in the continuous burn of the sun. I slept well past noon, I shouldn't have, but when I awoke and went outside, it didn't seem to matter that I was unconscious, possessed by dreams I don't remember.

Much of my life is fixated on the missing things, what I don't have. As if projected on a screen in front of me, everywhere I go, I see what I am not, I see what I do not have.

I believe that if life is ironic in any way, it is ironic in how the things we deeply want, the things we pine for, are withheld from us at about an arm's length. What I mean by this is, in any moment your life can change, and that which you desire could easily stand before you. Not many times, but sometimes this happens, when our wishes come true and the world seems like a dream.

But for the remainder, we are nomads in the desert, experiencing mirages daily.

The heat effects the senses by a wrinkle, creasing the air until it feels like a blanket were wrapped over my head.

I have searched for objects far and near to hold my attention. Could this be related to the irony of life? That nothing ultimately holds our attention?

There is, however, a singular devotion that each of us can call our own. We become it over a lifetime, and this must be how a human soul can take on a definite form, and that form can be embedded in history.

The heat crawls, it moves across stunned windowpanes, and thick asphalt. And nothing is like the silence in summer, where the heat settles on parks and baseball diamonds, in suburban backyards, and fields of crops extending to the highway.

The heat waits, it lingers, and as it lingers, it grows, layer upon layer . . .

I'm easily distracted by the sun. It makes me want to go inside after a short while. I take refuge in the air conditioning of the hopeless cafe. Maybe I will see some more beautiful women who will avert their eyes when I look at them . . .

We remember our lives in a certain kind of narrative. That narrative proceeds from a point and moves forward. And then it drops off at the present and seems to hold that note forever, and we hear the monotonous note again and again, and that is the present.

The irony is that, as humans, we are condemned to living this incomplete dream. One part of the dream is real and the other part, unfinished. For the unfinished part, we busy ourselves with imagining new endings in countless ways. Summer abides in these moods of sweltering languor, when desire is shunned by the heat and souls are forced to move inside--

It is there I find my singular devotion. Where hours are abundant and empty, and every room reminds me of the bedroom I grew up in.

True splendor lies in recognizing the thing you've always had. All the longings, cravings, and wishes fall off like scales . . .

And while the heat is stirring outside the window, and the fields shimmering in the sun, I'm liberated inside my house, the dullest place in the land, a container of restless boredom on most days . . .

Ecstatic--because for the first time I am in possession of the part of the dream that is real.



nene said...

Your simplicity and clarity, refreshing elumination of what normally would be so mundane is greatly appreciated.

Lethe said...


Thank you! It is especially nice to hear from readers.


Roy said...

Some really evocative stuff in there.

The heat crawls, it moves across stunned windowpanes, and thick asphalt. nothing is like the silence in summer, where the heat settles on parks and baseball diamonds, in suburban backyards, and fields of crops extending to the highway.


I liked the part about the narrative of our lives stopping at the present-- as if we are always at the end of a book.

Lethe said...

Thank you Roy! I feel that the present is this sort of nebulous place, neither here nor there, just suspended. Which makes us bored a lot of times, cause we're not moving anywhere it seems.

Roy said...

You may be on to something. The narrative is what we call life, but life is really that suspended moment in the neck of the hourglass. The closer you get to that moment, the less happens. Say you are married and settling down, then you are buying a house, then you are signing the papers, then you are holding a pen in your hand, and that's all there is.

It is an argument for good penmanship, I suppose.

the QuoteBloke editors said...

Talk of the sun and the heat recalls learning French with L'Etranger and the manipulating of nebulous abstract nouns in academic essays. A different language like French can give me a fasinating variety of ideas reflecting the slumbering heat of the sun. But Georges Simenon can afford an even wider view of our psychological landscape with narrower concrete concepts. Within a mystery story of our lives it is harder for the words to substitute our limited insights. In the end I am attracted to the discussion here in large part by the attempt to articulate moving targets. Now from L'Etranger I've struggled full circle around to Albert Camus' A Happy Death, staring silently across the the laconic sea of forgetfulness. After all when it is over it is the complex that eminates from the simple, not the simple from the complex.

Lethe said...

Quote Bloke--

Thanks for your extended commentary! Moving targets indeed!


AKAmamma said...

This is exactly how I feel today. Restless and stuck in the present. Thanks Heather

Lethe said...

My name is Lethe (or Chris) . . . Lethe is my pen name and Chris is my real name.

That's cool you could relate to the feeling I describe in my post, thanks for stopping by . . .

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