Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Impatient Immediacy

There is a tanker clogging up my bay. It’s a great monstrous thing dominating the horizon, parked parallel to the beach-line, about half-a-mile off. Been there five or more weeks now. (And yes, I am taking ownership of the bay. That’s how I feel about the swans and the herons and the gulls in the nearby lagoon; I feel a sense of ownership. When people walk their dogs along the shoreline of the lagoon, instead of taking them on the other side of the mile-long causeway, along the beach, it bugs me. Why not go where birds will not be disturbed?  Swans waste so much energy by dashing off and away from dogs; even though the brutes be leashed. Sometimes it’s children. Parents would be better to leash them too! At least with words that would have offspring be considerate and gentle and cautious, if not with actual tethers of constraint.) But that is just how that tanker remains so stationary amidst the glide and flow of shipping traffic, or against the bashing of the white-caps; it is tethered by constraints. Leastwise, it does not disturb the birds.

We find ourselves often wanting things to be different. Acceptance is hard come by. There are so very many things that can offend. We grit our jaws at graffiti. We snarl at the driver who cuts us off. We growl at the fact that we missed checking the milk-carton before we went shopping. We dislike the big clog of anything cluttering up our hallway. We rush about and clean and tidy the reality of our daily living just in order to treat a guest to an environment so pristine they may actually sit upright and stiff with discomfort, afraid to disturb anything. It is our way. We have inner-scapes that are determined by idiosyncratic proclivities. (To hear Lightning Hopkins over early morning coffee can really only be appreciated if you too were once in Cape Town, nearly fifty (!) years ago.) But already I have introduced foreign elements into my narrative, like letting loose the dogs to bark among the birds. (And it’s not always big things that arrest us!)

Herons are particularly patient. They seem virtual statues of intense staring through the water’s surface, as if mesmerizing the little fish to come up and see. And then, with an ecstatic suddenness, they strike so swiftly that from stasis to action takes all by surprise. Perhaps that’s what will happen one morning. I shall wake up and the tanker won’t be there. It’ll have slipped its knots and slid away. But in the meantime, like a great monster at repose, hibernating in the grays and the rains and the winds of this winter weather, it sleeps and broods, still there!

Not all things move. Some people have lived in one place for years and years! Only their interiors change, and even then, not much. Some new picture on the wall may make for subtle changes of perspective, but essentially things remain the same. “Mitch, just look at this room!” (Morrie says in ‘Tuesdays with Morrie.’) “Everything in here has been the same for the past, oh, thirty years. The newest things in this room are You and my wheelchair. But now [‘since my disease,’] everything has changed. This room has filled up with warmth and honesty and tears. This is a wealthy home!” Indeed. It is our inner perspective that matters most. And big as the obstacles may be that prevent flow and grace and usefulness and care and considerations, and even compassion for others, so we may well remain clogged up and victims of our own recalcitrance.

Yes, trapped in body though one may be, we need not necessarily always tug at the tethers, yearning to be free. We can still feel vital and wealthy. Unless truly immobile, and not changing, we may but brood, endlessly. Ha! Now therein may the bulk of a disturbed and disturbing pair-a-dox be! 

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