Meeting in the Mist

The art of looking.

Each body has its signature, each a mystery. I know only awe for these, and nothing else of faith. Expect no unveilings here, no grand revelations. Only the presence of someone with nothing of importance to say, breathing between bouts of getting lost. Are you looking for something? Me too. I am trying to remember what.

In answer to your question. About art. No, I don’t think it’s necessary, but it is a means of survival. I hear there are other ways. Maybe if I spent less time in the folds of this fog and more among the purveyors of proven practices and ten-step solutions, I would be able to tell you what these are.

Instead, here I am, without even an explanation for this body’s central sacrament, which is listening to a cloud. All I can offer is this ritual: wait, wander, listen, repeat––and this open hand.

***

Notes while reading the opening to Carl Phillips’ My Trade is Mystery. What a beautiful gift.

Turning

Instead of a story.

I guess the weight of it all is what keeps us longing for some hour of grace, she said. The subject was an idea that one of us was floating, of a truth big enough to shatter the ends of us whole again. We were tired, but she said we would lose the fight if we knew what was before us. Then a strong wind blew, and we were lost again, only now we knew this better than we had before. 

Now we’re getting somewhere, she rasped, and we looked up again, hoping she would elaborate, but she was doubled over, laughing through her tears.

Driving Directions

Through unknown territories.

She said, child, you may know a thing or two one day, but that won’t be anytime soon, so you will have to muddle through. For now, it’s going to be like driving in a rainstorm in the dark, when all you can see is the tiny patch of blur lit by the headlights, and no taillights to guide you, and the actual road will be poorly marked or not at all. 

She said, child, I want you to know this, so that you will not be taken by surprise and swerve offroad. But of course, we are always in a state of disbelief, because who can resist keeping company with the secret hope that driving a dream would be an adventure story? This is not necessarily untrue, but most of us get the genre wrong. 

When you’re raised on those feel-good films that validate the trope of the noble quest, with anthem music and sidekicks and breaks for humor, when the going gets rough, it can be disconcerting to realize that you’re actually in a David Lynch film with a blue filter and the sort of musical score designed to remind you––not that you need it––that something is a little off but you won’t be able to put your finger on it and there isn’t any chance of it letting up.

But this is what she told me, child; she said, Listen. When it gets like that, and you are driving in the dark and the weather and the unmarked roads say go back, only then can you know you are getting somewhere. It isn’t like any of the places you’ve seen before, I promise you, but keep going. 

There will be others coming, child, more frightened and uncertain than you are now, and when they find the glow of your taillights before them, they will suddenly remember to breathe. They will think, Okay, and hang on.

Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash/ Score: “Alice in Wonderland” from Azure Instrumental via Soundstripe

***

An audio version of this piece is now on YouTube.

Beholding

Possibility and limit.

At every encounter, a mutual question, what is this something? and revelations between presences, of possibility. Here fire, here ice, here the light, heat, cool, drip––to be named, maybe, but still not known, and it matters to return often to this place, to remember the limits of language, to avoid equating naming with holding what won’t be captured or even grasped. At best, I can behold, be beholden to––at best, I can be held in my unknowing.