Filling the moments

My eyes open and the same thought has begun to come to me, almost unconsciously now and has so for many awakenings since the recent change in season: I don’t know how I can face this: sitting up, taking the pills, the struggle to the bathroom; then there is the turn of the corner to my chair in the living room and the anxiety of testing of others’ mood; always testing, though I am good at this now after a life time of it. Before I’ve sat up but my eyes are still open-or at least one of them for focus- I imagine the coffee and weigh its worth. Usually, no. This entire project will fill the moments if I include everything I’ve mentioned. But then there are the moments after that. And then after that. There are still the moments, aren’t there? One and then another and you get through one and then, my god, there’s another. No longer days or even weeks. I can still manage to know the season but the only sure thing there is, is each moment. I’ve felt it for some time now like the jaws of a gigantic flower. A peculiar analogy. It feels that way, though. It has a certain vegetable inevitability. Think of the Venus Flytrap. Think of kudzu choking a forest. It’s a sort of juicy, green thriving progress toward, well, you know. The green silence. Life comes as a result of death. New follows the old. And what reason can there be for thinking that my existence is more valuable than that of the Venus Flytrap, or an ant, or even the moth who innately bashes herself against flame? Or the carpet of grass that we claim as our lawn? Were I strong enough to endure cutting it, there would be many moments.

I’m not looking for sympathy. It‘s so strange, but I have failed. What I wanted to do seemed so simple. I wanted to create something so beautiful and special so as to stand beside someone’s sunrise, someone’s ordinary sunrise. Imagine trying to do that. Such foolishness. An impossible lesson to teach.

A spasm of fury rose this time in my throat, catching there, afraid to break the silence. I am trapped forever here-or there-or here. I must get through this one. And the one after that and then another with no place to go. I must please. I must continue. It might be like walking into a vast field of unsheathed wheat. It could be horrible. It could be wonderful. We thought his sorrows were ordinary sorrows; the pain like ordinary pain; we had no idea.

It’s all right, I tell myself. It’s all right. Pull yourself together, for god’s sake. I look at the small room, my eyes moving; my head not. And I see this perfect world that I’ve put together here for myself: the volumes of books and DVD’s to pass time, to provide a familiar comfort and to get lost in. The photographs and post cards on the wall to keep me from getting lost. Grounding me in my children, the only thing at which I have not failed. Not yet. The rectangle of sunlight that cuts across the foot of my bed this time. It’s all perfect somehow. The whole world out there may be decimated but a force that feels unambiguously like goodness has prevailed. Today Chelsea Clinton will be married at a cost of roughly two million dollars, Proof, somehow, that a child can withstand dire circumstances and turn out “okay” as an adult. I read the feeling as it passes, like the turning of a page: here it is. There it goes. I might at this moment, or any of the wakening moments, be nothing more than a floating intelligence; not even a brain inside of a head, just a presence that perceives, as a camera might, or a vast bank of kudzu. It’s the feeling of having been part of something important at one point only to discover that importance is what we tell ourselves we have; that love makes the world go ‘round or that a teacher or poet is of greater value than a butcher or a cooper, or that children are our greatest resource when in fact it’s all just a matter of what we must do in order to fill up the moments. And by the time my mind has worked through this thought today, I’ve slipped back into beautiful sleep: a gentle moving river just below the surface of my eyelids and for now, all is just fine as I continue to be an observer like someone who is reading a book instead of being one of the characters in it.

David Seaman July 13 2010