The times have been odd and I’ve been at pains to record them. Here is a series I began recently in attempts to account for my life over the past 6 months or so… for what they’re worth. In this current apparent “season” of ongoing stress related to surviving I am culling old notebooks for substance and will begin posting as I find time to type them. \
Invisible Man Chronicles
Six months ago, things were different. I found myself unable to breathe, in England, windswept and drowned out in a kind of panicked grief – a she had proficiently evacuated my life, my home, a marriage… a business, a practice… The weather was cold and drizzly – melancholy, hibernatory, reflexive. One might say: “Winter.” My return would be to four children, now employment, no sustenance, no inner strength, little support and a home hardly emptied of her artifacts. She had literally flown away.
Seasons in Kansas are cyclically exemplary. Summer – hell-hot, a dry blowing flame, readings often surpassing 100. Winter is a subzero freeze – bitter blizzards and veils of ice – both producing post-apocalyptic land. Autumn, as is idealized, a gradual and colorful falling away – temperatures, foliage and field – a clear and moist sarcophagus. And Spring. Spring is explosive – blustery, redolent – a balmy turbulence of expansion and growth.
Some have suggested that landscapes, climates and geographies form the tangible shape to our thoughts and personalities and beliefs. It makes many kinds of sense.
When we experience loss we consider to be great, we often find it inexplicable, and it may exhibit many qualities in common with fallow fields of Kansas Winters. Clinging to cold and dark uncannily, as if depressive states were somehow desirable. As if persisting in sorrow might validate what grew there before. What cannot repeat (we think) – bumper crops and windfalls – the decay of which we experience as hopelessness, helplessness, a ruin. Plumbing gone bad, a roof worn away, the appliances failed. Eyesight, blood pressures and flesh. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold – wisely penned, and yet the Seasons.
When a wheat crop fails to a Summer’s drought and burn – there is thorough discoloration and a withering. The rusty dun of a malpracticed rain dissolved by menacing sun seems a sign of things gone wrong, things never to be the same. And it is so. In some various version of “now” – growth is undone, production waylaid, and a pestilent edition of dying appears to have its way. We cherish that in our bemoaning. Misfortunes as notches on a belt that signify toward some later date: “We survived.” “We survive.”
Certainly not forever, but perhaps another season. Another cycling of the clock. We sleep and we wake, and “every day begins the same.” Every week and month and year.
That apparently demolished – scarred and furrowed stillborn field, however, hasn’t lost capacity, only a season’s fruit, a momentary harvest.
I shackled myself to determined grief. Treating my earth with lyme. Still its soil didn’t die. Flowers and grasses were never erased, only unsung and silent, covered, eventually, by a type of ashen snow – very difficult to see.
The lesson I find ever-so-hard to incorporate is that the responsibility of flourishing or dearth lies not on the soil, the weather, or farmer – wind, sun, rain or seed – not even diligence, care or quality. Rather, its growth or despoiling depends on the entire orchestra of factors.
What blooms for a term, given other conditions, even ever-so-slightly adjusted, may miserably deteriorate, may “fail to thrive” or “take.” Human infants, ant colonies, milo crops and butterfly paths, wildlife populations and the microscopic advance of forests all share this cosmic weather – growth and decay depend on convergence.
A determined depression, a strange and celebrated joy – can be deranged by simple sounds or gestures, weathers or tastes.
Helplessness altered towards hope by some unexpected “yes.”
I was contacted to compose a responsive work for a miniscule fee in relation to a visiting artist. I was given employment, extremely part-time it appeared – as a rural mail carrier ‘associate’ – filling in for regular carriers days off. And yet they were SOMEthing, a shift in the breeze, a change in barometric pressures, percentages of precipitation, doors opened with smiles.
A bonfire had been planned at a farm to forge acquaintance with the visiting artist – two weeks of work from Brooklyn, NY. In my selected sorrow I avoided meeting people or mingling in groups, even contacting more than a handful of friends (often reaching out and then canceling in efforts to conserve energy for survival). Yet work (survival) was serious business and necessitated uncomfortable measure. I went to the farm and the fire, and from there began a new history. New season. Dying seeds split toward open…(to be continued…)