One Place to Another
He lay on the grass, in the shade beneath the tree. Sunny day, heavy hot air. The breeze sang quiet little songs in the leaves.
I wish I was happy, he thought.
His heart beat faster, in a way that almost hurt, as though it was being pierced by a thousand tiny bolts of lightning, striking out from dark clouds in some other world somewhere, for some unknown reason all aimed directly at his heart. He wanted suddenly to leap to his feet, to run, to fly across the ground, to hurl himself into a cascading series of explosions, to scream with a voice so loud that it broke the sky, a scream of such violent power erupting from within his body that it shook the very world, threatened the very planet itself such that God was finally forced to step out and fight, such that God was forced to fight for whatever it was that God believed in…
His forearm came to rest across his forehead as he closed his eyes. He lay unmoving, still. Why do I want to hurl myself into a cascading series of explosions, he thought. Why do I want to destroy things. It’s a beautiful day, I’m alive in this world in a beautiful place.
Why does it all bring me no peace.
His body felt filled with broken, meandering fires, slowly burning his life up, up and away.
He sighed, audibly. His arm moved, his eyes opened, his hands came together, folded across his chest, interlaced fingers. He looked up into the interplay of dark shadow and golden light amongst the softly fluttering leaves, and wondered to himself, for the hundredth, thousandth time, just what the fuck his problem was.
I can’t imagine committing suicide, he thought. Can’t imagine giving up on the challenge of trying to answer all these questions. But I also can’t imagine just…getting old and dying. Memories of his grandparents floated up within his mind. The way they had just gradually sunk, little by little into that darkness, and then one day finally just slipped away. The way the levels of care and machinery had risen up around them as they sank down. At least I can still get up and around, said his Grandpa’s eternally rough-hewn voice. At least I ain’t in one of them yet, pointing at the wheelchair. And then, a few weeks or months later, he was.
Slowly they had sunk, little by little. His grandmother’s mind, when it started to go, to wander; after they took away first her husband, and then her home. Cousin So-and-So, coming to visit, to talk with her in the night. And then when Grandpa finally died, he had taken her voice with him. Then she just sat there, and it was hard to tell how much, if anything, was left within that body anymore.
Something. There was definitely something, he thought to himself; remembered holding her hand and knowing it; being able to feel that she had known her grandson whom she loved was with her holding her hand, and that she had been glad; glad, within that darkness, to feel the love flowing between them.
He grunted as he moved, his body rocking, curling as he sat up, forearms across his bent knees, fingers locked together. Stiffness in places in his body from not moving, stiffness in places within his body’s bones and muscles, mild aches. He looked at the back of his hands as he flexed his fingers, bending and straightening, lengthening into the tension and bending them again, kneading one hand with the fingers of the other. The leaves gossiped in tiny gentle whispers, beyond his shade-cave the burning bright sunlit world.
The world. Dying. The world and death and dying. My problem is the world and death and dying he thought to himself, sighed again. But there’s not very much I can do about those things, now is there, he thought to himself. Shit. Fuck. Sheee-iiitttt….t.
There’s nothing I can run fast towards, he thought. Nothing I can hurl myself towards, in a series of cascading explosions. Not yet, at least. That leaves me with this series of evenly alternated periods of light and and darkness that we live within, day and night, waking and sleeping. This day by day, this little by little; these accretions, these horizons we approach…
No, I’m not happy, he mused. But I’m also not bereft. I have work to do, plans, hope. And I know what love is. And I will probably have neither peace nor happiness, until I find it again, he realized quietly.
He closed his eyes. Let himself feel his body breathing, in and back out again, for a few moments. Sighed, one last time, as he remembered a long list of Reasons. Rose to his feet, enjoying all the sinuous complications of the motivated movement of his own living body, enjoying this as he rose to his feet in spite of the clouds and lowness of his generalized existential malaise; rose to his feet, stretched, bent and picked up his bag, stood up straight as he slung the bag over his head and across his shoulder. He began to place one foot before the other across the ground in the locomotive method most commonly used by humans, in the English language known as walking, and by this method managed to maneuver his body through space and time, away from the shaded grassy ground beneath the tree and towards some other place yet unknown.
The tree stayed where it was, as all trees always do, and watched him go. How strange it must be, to move from one place to another, the tree thought. Its leaves continued to whisper tiny secrets, and sing quiet little leaf-songs.