Time for a bit of dying, he thought.
He’d generally push it to the side, all the way to the end. But it would always come back, like a pet that doesn’t want to go outside, and curl around his ankles.
So, for a change, that evening, when things turned to their familiar strangeness, he lay back in the bath and sank down, among the bubbles. Nothing would get better, he knew that very clearly. The crisscross-framed window ahead made floating diamonds ripple above his tummy, small faint cloud-shadows hung an inch or so below. He watched them. Watched with them, into them, from their start to their finish, right to their limits. Died with them. Then there was the sound of rain outside. He died with that sound too. Ended with it. Then the car wheels swishing by. He stayed with them, kept them company as far as he could hear, and as they passed, so he passed. Then his wife and child across the hallway. Their laughs and lives trapped forever inside the bell jar of that day.
Living is so overrated, he thought. Remembering to continue, remembering to survive, struggling to make linkages between spells of being.
Because nothing around him was going places, had better things in mind, ambitions beyond him.
Nothing in his bright glass could be lifted up and out, carried over, could get across.
Living was always missing the point.
Time for a bit of dying.
It was a strange question to think of asking.
He mostly thought of it when standing by that particular window when there was just a little light left in the day and hushed sounds in the garden outside. Thinking of it seemed to beckon, and, like a shy animal creeping forward, in his love would come, uninvited, but always invited, the softest, softest of breezes, curling around him, over his chest.
“How much would you cost, if you could cost, my breeze? Don’t you deserve a price like everything else?” he’d ask. “Surely if you could be, you would be expensive, more expensive than anything.”
It was worth everything, that moment, blue dusk, breeze carrying liquid song. He’d pay any price right then in that instance, his life’s savings without a thought, intoxicated, and if everything he had was to just disappear or turn out to never have happened, his loved ones, his home, his whole past, standing there by that wedged window, spellbound, he wouldn’t have minded at all.
He was, now, plainly hollow. Hollowed out for the world to see, by things as they fell through from nowhere to nowhere. It was as if he looked out from within a very deep well. Perhaps he was an actual well, into which things were dropped or fell, and fell forever without obstruction, all the way through him, on and on. He’d never know what the next thing would be. That breeze, this shine, that sound, that dancing inch by inch square of light on the ground beneath a shrub. In and down each went without explanation, without warning, only a flutter inside to know something had entered and passed through.
Why should today be any different?
I wonder if so much of inner effort is an attempt to repeat. To repeat a past experience we have taken possession of, to repeat a feeling or to repeat the experience of another, or to repeat the described ideal. When we do something, or think or feel something for the first time there is no feeling of inner effort and so almost no feeling of having actually done the thing at all. The deed sits somewhere between doing and happening. So it is the second time, the replication, the successful repetition when we feel ourselves to truly do, or try to do. It is the second time we aspire towards, we take pride in, we announce “Look Daddy, I can do it!”. It if being able to repeat, that counts as real. But while this process goes on, and while the sense of success affixes itself to repetition and imitation, we carry this through to experience itself. And we start to believe that our whole lives are either successes or failures based on how well they show signs of repeating circumstances, possessions, thoughts, feelings and perspectives that have been endorsed by our contemporaries and forebears. Our inner effort becomes continuous. We forget what it is like to live for the first time and do things for the first time. We forget that life itself has no particular wish for us to know or obtain what others have known or obtained. Life places no particular importance on what has gone before, though in our fear, in our assumption that in this enormous, unprovoked Unboundesness our own fragile encounters must give way to a more pressing consensus. We assume that life has a preference for repetition; that repeated things are realer than one-offs, and we fight against our own nature and the nature of our experience which is precisely and inherently one off, here and then gone. In our fear then or in our forgetting, we apply the practice of repetition across all areas of our lives, and lose touch with the part of ourselves that plays amidst completeness, unconcerned with origination and credit, content to be, in some unclear manner, involved.
Nervously, he made his approach. Step followed slow, wavering step, as if crossing a narrow bridge without sides. His chest tightened and his hands curled as he drew ever closer. His breathing became shallow and his vision narrowed to a point right ahead. He seemed to float, as if carried, over the last remaining reason to go back and so, he sat down at his table by the window, to write again.
The red of those fuchsias,
Those skinny ballet-dancers hanging from a few tall stems over the front wall,
Was not red for informational purposes.
Was not red, just so that they might be briefly recognised.
Not red, just for the fucking service of you.
No, the red, that red, was an honour, an education.
It was a red that was before red.
A red that reminds you that you’re alive, unsafe.
That this, this arrow slit is open both sides
And you might just find those flowers
Fly right through at you and colour all over the back of your brain
Leaving you, as you turn to look at something else,
Death has a sound.
It is the sound of the wind.
The uninvented wind.
Not to hear,
But to join.
Life doesn’t know a thing.
He’d effectively given up for the day, so was surprised to see, through his sitting room window down among the darkening plants below, a bee, still at work.