ANYWHERE BUT HERE
upon being informed by a friend that she was dispassionately seeking an end to her life
Anywhere but here. Anyone but me. Any time but now. Worn out more selves than I ever thought I wanted to be. All these masks like petals fallen from the same rootless tree. But where’s the fruit? Where’s the face all this was practise for? Where’s the great unveiling that breaks through the clouds like the moon? Voids within voids within voids like the fractals of Chinese boxes. Gopher wheels of intellection. Cosmic eggs the mystics never broke out of. Where everything begins and ends. In wonder at the horrors and the radiance. Ageless wonder. Sixty-three years of experiencing it and still the noviate that apprenticed himself to deepening his ignorance at the hands of an unknown master. And what’s a master but someone who realizes they’re a constant beginner? The teacherless teaching. The gateless gate. The hinge of the way. Just to be here. Though my head be under its heel. Though my eyes long for fireflies. Though my heart aches for things that I did and are gone for good and things I didn’t do and are still not done. Though all that is lovely and kind soon perishes and everyone moves up one step in line as if nothing ever happened. But to be here wholly, intensely, as if it did matter, as if this much wonder at the mere fact of it could not be squandered on the banal absurdities of inconsequence. Why would sentience emerge from chaos if it’s just a masquerade of it own irrelevance? If it wasn’t as necessary as random chance to explain what we’re all doing here trying to second-guess what we’re all doing here? Is the planet breaking into consciousness, evolving a neo-cortex to cover the earth, growing itself a global brain and each of us a neuron, one of millions with fifty thousand relationships each, brought forth to facilitate the process by transcending our own? Are we the starmud out of which will come waterlilies with cool soft white lunar skin? Five petals open and one flower blooms? Infinite gods of darkness and light all peers of our own human divinity housed in the one temple that’s dedicated to the worshipper?
Stone. Water. Air. Ions. Space. We’ve progressed through increasingly rarefied mediums the least tangible of which is mind. And if the medium is the message, then why have we come all this way and what are we here for if it isn’t to speak for ourselves? Each charged with a vision and a mission of their own to express themselves like a loveletter in a bottle cast upon this expansive sidereal sea of awareness. And it doesn’t matter much if the message is trivial or sublime. One small red thread of a wavelength or the whole blue-white blinding radiance of a galaxy. Cherished or despised. Treat everything, every thought, every feeling, the ants at your feet, the shadows of the black walnut trees at sunset pouring their shadows out over the grass like water, as if it were the first sign of extraterrestrial intelligence. Because it’s the wonder, the mystery, the intrigue and shock of being here at all and our insistent urge to look through the open doorway and cross our old thresholds like dangerous taboos to run after the stranger who knocked and walked away that is the most vital about us. Wonder is the life blood of the imagination. Sever that jugular on an ostrakon of a broken mirror you’ve spent years polishing, and all your images, metaphors, similitudes and symbols will bleed out into ghostly abstractions that are forced to return to the gravestones of their senses at dawn to remember who’s buried under their names. And isn’t the wonder enough? Whether in love or in art or science isn’t it the wonder that impels everyone to express their amazement at what they see arrayed before them? Startled into being out of the inconceivable aren’t the rest of our lives just one long spontaneous gesture of fright and fascination? Each of us what the world whispers into its own ear when it wonders what it’s doing here alone? I was a hidden god and I wished to be known? Isn’t that the image of us? Each of us a different response to what’s going on at the moment, and all of them true, including the liars and illusions. The whole of the content expressed in all phases of the moon. Nothing ever missing because nothing can’t be grasped. You just take it in as it is as if you were the world the bottle the message the lover the sea the disappointment and the consummation all in one. The wave not distinct from the sea and neither of them strangers to water. The Luna Moth just one night flys up against your window out of the darkness and spreads its wings like a thought or a feeling and shows you the eyes it’s brought to the light to deepen and enhance the radiance the darkness and your seeing all alike staring at the mystery of each other in wonder at the other’s occurrence.
You are that. The voice and the listening. The witness and the event. The loveletter the lover and the return address. The myth of origin you’re writing that’s making you up as it goes along. Created and Creator. And always the space that goes beyond both to receive them like stars being poured into the mouth of nothingness to revive the moon skull of the night with eyes. Each of us the way the universe talks to itself in its sleep whether its dreaming the world on a lotus or agonizing its way through the excruciating transformations of a nightmare. And some flowers are looking at the stars. And some are listening. But whatever the outcome, when the world wakes up, it’s us it wakes up to. Us in our baffling mystic fearfully boundless entirety. You who are the meaning of meaning. You who are the hunger to know. You who are apprenticed to chaos. You who let things go. You who are trying to hang on. You who order yourself like a ladder for the birds to perch on. And you who approach them opportunistically like the green branch of a snake. You who underestimate your complexity to the detriment of your simplicity. You who can’t see in the act of washing your hands what the dead long for again. How the trivialities, follies, and mundanities of the world are as crucial as oxygen to those who are crazy enough to be wisely alive while they have the chance. You who are deceitful in love because you expect to lose your happiness last. And you who realize your own fulfillment in the act of truing someone else’s life to their longing. You who have given up asking the silence to speak because it never answers you gazing upon the stars that frequent your solitude until one night in a blaze of insight you realize the universe itself and you in it just as you have always been since the beginningless beginning is the way the silence roars.
You can taste this world with your eyes. You can distinguish among flavours of light. If your mouth has grown stale on a diet of cliches and your voice hoarse with screaming at the death masks you carved out of the jungle like Olmec skulls in the likeness of the dynasty of your own ferocious dissatisfied selves, you can exchange sculptors with other cemeteries and let the wind do the work of the rain. No pain no gain is the ethic of a puritanical food chain. How much work was it to be born like light in the body of a lamp to find your way here like the next step on the Road of Ghosts where everyone walks on the graves of their ancestor-selves like an afterlife that isn’t theirs alone though they cling to it like a single drop of water clings to a blade of star grass? Five and a half billion years of spontaneous emergence from the Burgess Shale to a hundred million neurons rooting in the starmud of a mind so boundless and indefinable it can encompass the superclustering of galaxies and the singularities of black holes and most of it growing effortlessly whether you grimace like a decision maker or smile as if you couldn’t care less. Not for seventy years of forced labour trying to soil your shining on the night shift. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust if you must see it that way. But stars to ashes to stars to dust to us and back to stars is a more accurate way to see it. The shining takes root in the earth and becomes flowers and trees and blackberries and fish and reptiles mammals and birds and then the radiance takes its greatest risk and accelerates us up to the speed of light and beyond into the faster shadows of thought and feeling that enter the available dimensions of the future ahead of the stars. And all for what? So you can answer: Creative play without a motive? Cosmos without an agenda? Chaos is the dark partner of all principles of organization? Or maybe just to stand in a wild open field silvered in moonlight by the wind and look at the stars until you can feel no veil between your eyes and them as you realize your seeing is no less than the latest masterwork of their genius whether you’re dazzled by the Pleiades or collapsing under your own mass into a black hole in a burst of gamma radiation. The predators evolve eyes for hunting. The prey learn to lie about their appearance. The predators see through the disguise. And life changes like a mood ring. The rose that’s as vulnerable as blood is always the one with the most thorns. The harvest moon in a total eclipse like the prophetic dreams of famine and plenty Joseph had of
Deal with it. Don’t sit there on my futon, glaring at me because I take your suicide threat more seriously than you do. That I can take it to a darker place than your eyes have ever been eclipsed by. Grab your flute and see if you can teach the snake pit music. I care. Deeply. But the bitumen of my tears has turned into hard diamonds over the years with increasing access to clarity. Kill yourself. And what’s been left unaccomplished? Don’t kill yourself and has anything been done? And if I say you’re light, we all are, that doesn’t mean that you’re a candle and can snuff yourself out. And if you’re as dark as you say you are and want to end it all by putting a gun up to your temple what could that do but deepen the night for all of us? Add to the darkness by one less star? Don’t you think breaking into light would kill you into a new life faster than the Big Bang exploded into stars? I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m not saying do it. Look at the moon. It pulled the last crescent of a trigger on itself. Dead world. No atmosphere. Frozen cataracts of water at the southern polar cap. Drinking shadows out of the dry seabed of its skull. And yet it still shines like it or not. Brightest when it’s full. But darkest when it’s new again. Yes, pain. Yes, death. Yes, the rabid ferocity of human injustice. Yes, atrocity and savage indignation. Yes, madness and absurdity. Yes, the obscenity of human lovelessness toward all living things. Yes, futility. Yes, the maggots who run the world for the corporate delecti. Yes, the sorrow that longs to pour into the absence of everything and everyone you’ve ever cherished the way nature abhors a vacuum. Yes, joy denuded of its innocence and no one left to cry to but yourself. Yes, people in the water. All sharks into the lifeboat. Yes, ignorance, indifference, war, the skull beneath the skin, the dungheap covered in snow. Twenty-five million children starving to death every year on a planet that attributes the birth of civilization to agriculture. I understand. It’s as real as one of those razorblades you used to scar your arms and thighs like a prisoner scratching out a paleolithic calendar on a bone in a Neanderthal cave. Or do you cut into your flesh like an early version of cuneiform that’s become your mother tongue? And what is it exactly you’re trying to express? Your disgust with yourself? Your disgust with others who get up in the morning to count the raisins like an abacus in their cereal, certain they’re being cheated out of something they deserve while their kids are seizing the day on the sly from the medicine cabinet? And yes, I know your father tore the wings off the innocence of his two butterfly daughters just as you were beginning to grow breasts and that empathy isn’t enough to identify with the experience unless you’ve wholly lived through it yourself. But I’ve seen you when you didn’t know I was looking open your wings on the rim of a poppy that suddenly flared up like a distant fire on the hillside of a dark valley at night. Something warm and inviting that wasn’t as lost and dangerous in the vast homelessness of despair as you were. And when you opened your wings. They weren’t the wings of a housefly stained by snakeoil rainbows. They weren’t soiled or torn or bruised by the world’s filth like the lunar hymens of the morning glory. I swear when I saw you open them the first time you looked like you were opening a slim volume of lyrical love poetry that escaped the book-burning of the Grand Inquisitor of the Court of the Star Chamber. You are not the original sin. You did not bring death into the world. You are gold. You are the full harvest moon over the white gold of the grain. You are the sun at and the sun of shadowless . Bathe in your own fires to burnish the shining. Time, tears, rivers, blood, the mindstream, the Milky Way clarify themselves by flowing as if they had their tails in their mouths and the circle remained unbroken. Inviolate. Zero. Black hole. The plenum-void, the dark abundance, the bright vacancy that keeps on giving by adding its nothing to one and making it ten times bigger. Dark energy. The engine of the expanding universe. The dark mother who bends space into a womb and gives birth to galaxies. Sex isn’t just a choice between the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, as if you had to make love with one foot on shore like an oil slick and the other in the spiritual lifeboat of an immaculate womb. You could be