The challenge of Mondays is that so much that seems possible when a body is freed from certain daily obligations––traffic, work schedules, emails, meetings, bells––suddenly seems to slip away. It’s a tragic feeling, one I routinely brace for every Sunday afternoon into evening.
I am constantly having to remind myself (every Monday, and for the rest of the week) that the other part of the challenge is to find a way to grasp those ephemeral beauties again and hold them close––even while running in worn shoes, unlaced, in the cold rain, on a sore knee with a sense that it will be some time before you can stop again.
To hold and keep holding, this is the challenge. Like it’s your life, as the saying goes. Because, of course, that is exactly what it is. And although it has a way of coming into such sharp focus on Mondays, it’s really the challenge of a lifetime.
Between dreaming and waking.
The original void, they called it, and we thought like a womb and imagined ourselves a sort of placenta but who can say. We might have been the baby or the amniotic fluid, because where in that space do you find enough context for measurement?
What grows here cannot happen outside of time, they said, and we had no reason to argue; besides, who would listen? We couldn’t even name ourselves beyond we, beyond here, beyond you, and we used these interchangeably, depending on what fit the mood. Our words were the music we held between us.
All movement begins here, they said, and we had only known ourselves to be ever floating with it, in this space that only exists because it is empty enough to hold whatever comes. One evolving over time might decide to call the growth a contract between years and intentions, and who can fault them for this? It’s easy to forget this space, where the names of what we are keep sliding between us.
Reunions of the lost and found.
There go the keys again, and next will be the rings. The cattle dog has run off with the chihuahua mix, and Chance is gone from the community park. Black with brown spots, wearing a tan hoodie.
Someone lost a leaf blower. Perhaps this will catch on. And always, so many cats. Perhaps they meet up somewhere.
Meanwhile, someone found a box of tools on the side of Murphy Canyon Road, near the Arco and the Taco Bell. They want to give them back. They are hoping for a chance. Please call, they say.
Reading these ads never fails to satisfy a hunch that we are always losing parts of ourselves and finding odd bits of one another. The ads are specific, but the losses are diffuse, these invisible hopes our constant companions: return to me.
Who can help but want to audition now and then for the role of the one who returns, bearing gifts? To the weary disbelievers long after they’ve stopped looking, to announce, here! Take this! To share how they’ve been traveling the whole time, on a journey too bizarre to explain, with monsters no one’s ever seen, fanged whirlpools, and captivity on uncharted islands. To finally announce that what looked like death was only the winding course of another of the living, lost, and it can take so much longer than anyone would believe, to get back home.
She said, child, sometimes someone will approach you on the pretense of bearing a gift, but it will be none other than another version of Death, that old shapeshifter, dressed up in fancy wrapping and a bow.
This happens all the time, she said, and the method is to stuff the box full of sequins so that its these shiny, tiny nothings that fall to the floor when you open it. They are there to distract you from the extraction of your blood, one slow drop at a time.
She said, wait. It is also true that sometimes you will be handed something that reminds you of endings and you will groan and weep and mourn and wish somebody would take it back and tell you it never happened. But hang on, she said, because sometimes those are the places where your life is hiding, buried in the muck they tried to tell you was separate from the living.
We pass them between us, remaking the world one talisman at a time, each gift a salve, investing what we touch with the power of a sacred offering, so that even at a distance, they radiate life to the living.
Knowing this, we still forget. Reacting, it’s common to return to the old conditioning: things as mere tools. Here, one says, catch! A familiar thing, a cast off, a burden, an irritant: easy to forget the weight of these, the unexpected marks they will leave where they land.
We learn to hold and keep holding what makes us ill, sore, dizzy. We were made to carry, and it showed; something in us learned to accept until our legs went out again. The unlearning takes time. We invest new objects with new songs to help us remember, and touch them often, against forgetting.
First lessons in suspension.
We hardly knew it––or ourselves––when we flooded the spaces we entered with memory so completely that to move was to be removed from our weight in invented immersion. What carried us was luminous and dense and had no word we knew. If someone were to ask us what it was, we would say Nothing, but no such questions came, because when we removed ourselves from our weight, we became no one.
On the day of the dead, among this cloud of witnesses, someone here whispers, help me find it again, that joy I once had in looking. Instead of an answer, this space, and the hum of a motor nearby.
We love the old trees of our myths for the spaces they hold inside themselves, but also for the way they know to keep it around them, this cushion of shade made soft by the absence of another tree.
In the eruption of any given birth, a core could easily splinter, and yet here we are, faces dappled by the light and noise of becoming, learning to make room for what would breathe.
She knew something shifted when the plot no longer held her interest. Its pretense of coherent motivation rang false. She shifted her attentions then, to the way the nameless organisms within us would respond to the movements of forces outside, including other nameless organisms. Sometimes they were more vegetable than people, more tree than people, more bird. The stimulus mattered so much less than the effect. Yes, she would think, as she watched them. I know this lonely crowd. Then she knit herself a yarn cocoon. The yarn was the same color as her background. When her work was done, she disappeared. What is memory? Only forgetting, like a poem made by the act of erasure.
Inspired by the writing of Nathalie Saurrate and the art of Bea Camacho.
It was a time of release and collapse, confusion and the search for new bearings, and many painted aftermaths in words. There was much emphasis on resilience. Aspirational? Perhaps. It seemed a sort of mask. Something unraveled.
What is happening now? Someone asked. Attempts at description became profiles in shapeshifting practices: power and truth, dreaming and living, and then language. Interesting uses of words like safety raised questions. For whom and from what and by what logic are these questions obscured?
This is what we were wondering on the morning that we left our homes to walk into the fog. We seemed to be going to its source, but we could not see it. No one spoke at the time because the words were not there. Not yet. There was a humming, deep and low. It was not clear if it came from some hollow behind the heart, or somewhere outside. Perhaps this distinction, too, no longer mattered.
Thoughts on getting down with it.
Here’s an invitation to stomp through the track-lit hallways of an administration building and sing in a waiting room, wailing exhalations of various shapes.
Consider this a reminder not to chase the light too hard, to balance those ethereal divinities with the ever-present nuisances of daily demons.
Against the weight of daggered baggage, here’s the forgiveness of emptiness. Over the round hoop of the ancient zero like an open mouth, weave a nest for the unborn and make it big enough for the recently departed.
A body will reveal its resilience in rest, holding until only spirit is left, leaving calligraphic marks on the skins it brushed.
Song is a mother. She is working in the dirt and it is everywhere.
Inspired by, and with borrowed images from Spencer Kornhaber‘s recent Atlantic article, How to Listen to Björk, According to Björk, regarding the artist’s latest album, Fossora. The title comes from the Latin word for digger.