Friday, June 23, 2006

# 160 PARADISE'S EDGE

You’ve heard it said our minds are like a sponge. Absorbing sentiments from our surroundings, knowledge from books, and skills from observation. But interwoven in all this is the stuff we mop up from fantasy and the stuff we mop up from reality. Now how this stuff is compartmentalized in our heads, I have no idea. But I do know that when fantasy and reality spills get mopped up together, who knows which is what? And this rant is about some of that confusion.

Now when I was a kid, the old woman down the road, had a rather unusual way of expressing her delight when I came visiting with a new flowered blouse or skirt on that my mother had made me. “Eeeeh, it’s so beautiful. I can’t stand to look.” And then covering her eyes with her hands she would turn away.

I never understood it then, but I understand it now. It has to do with the fear of the intangible differences between fantasy and reality. Reality, when it is sweet, is so sweet. But fantasies, if too sweet, are frightening. Like bad luck. And sometimes the lines between the two are smudged.

Now I need to tell you that often in dreams, I find myself on the edge of a deep chasm. I don’t know how I got there but there I stand, balancing precariously. Unable to step ahead, to turn, to crouch, to crawl to safer ground. The drop-off begins its vertical descent at the tips of my toes, and the depth is so distant it is only blackness. Every muscle of my body is contracted into hard knots of fear. I am too rigid to sway in the wind, and even more unstable because of that rigidity. And so, I just stand there, taking silent and shallow mini-puffs of air like I did when I was a kid so the thing under my bed wouldn’t hear me breathing. Only now the fear is that the smallest rise and fall in my chest will send me plunging over the edge.

But yet, there is a small wavering bit of comfort splashing about in my brain. If I fall, I will surely plunge to my death, but somehow I’m not certain that is what would happen. I keep thinking about flying. I don’t remember flying, I can’t say I ever did, but yet I think that if I were to fall, I might fly. I really might. I think the rushing wind of rapid fall would instruct me and I would fly with the fluid grace of a great bird.

But today’s reality is not so much about dreams as the reality of how happy I was when I took my coffee and went out on the deck. I haven’t done that for years. When I was working there was no time and when I quit work there was no deck to sit on. Over the years we discarded rotting boards and rearranged the remaining healthy ones until the deck was nothing more than a narrow perch. But now we have an awesome new deck completely outfitted with patio furniture that YD bought her Dad for Father’s Day. It is an inviting place to be so that’s how I ended up on the deck this morning in a comfy chair sipping coffee.

I looked around me. The sun wrapped me in comforting warmth. The grass was so lush and such a deep green. The long shadows of early morn made everything from the closest tree to the farthest fen and everything in between stand out with sharper relief than my vision normally sees. Each thing I saw framed another and that thing framed another and that another. It was like looking into eternity.

The mound of red petunias in the silver barrel at the gate radiated their brilliance as if they were bathed in a spotlight. The pots I arranged near the house have expanded and bloomed until their purple blossoms are tumbling down in a waterfall of brilliant midnight blue in the shadows and lavender in the sunlight. We have had sufficient rains and the result is that the branches of all the trees are sporting tender silken clouds of that new magic green that is so much more uplifting than the darker green of maturity. The sky is an unbelievable satiny blue with scattered clouds hanging low and tinged in gold. A gentle wind is rustling my hair and the trees and keeping the bugs at bay. Robins are hopping about on the grass and one is perched in a nearby tree singing a truly first-rate melody.

Now I didn’t mean to look at all this loveliness and think of Paradise but that is what I found myself thinking about. The beauty of Paradise. I could not find anything in this vision that I could logically or rationally connect to CNN or this crude world with it’s wars, and corruption, and hunger and want. Laid out before me was something far too lovely to be a common backdrop to any house or home. I found myself thinking of the Old Woman and her expression, “It’s too beautiful. I can’t look.” And I began to understand it.

I wasn’t seeing a common day with a common sunrise. I was peeking into Paradise and thinking, “It’s too beautiful. Can’t look. Mustn’t look.” It was scary. Life suddenly seemed so tenuous. I felt like I do when I am precariously perched over that great black hole in my dreams. Afraid if I look, if I allow myself to absorb it, and it to absorb me, that I will slip from life into Paradise. I want to look away, cover my eyes.

I feel spasms starting in my feet and ankles, moving up my legs, locking the muscles into rigid things. I cannot turn away. Cannot cover my eyes. I am gripped by indescribable fear. Pervasive fear. My breath reduced to slow and halting whiffs. But yet, despite my fear that I might suddenly tumble away from reality and transition to another place, I still find that other comfort. Unproven, but still a conviction that, if beamed up and out, during the swiftness of that transition, the rushing pace of that passage will instruct me and I will fly.

3 Comments:

Blogger goldenlucyd said...

Wow Robarta! You captured something I think many of us have experienced but never expressed. Thank you.
I often had these feeling when I was young and felt that some things were just so deep, so beautiful my limited intelligence and senses just couldn't take them in. I couldn't really "see" or 'hear" the reality.
As an old person I don't feel that anymore. Rather, I have the feeling I think you expressed in your last sentence, that I'm part of it all. Part of the essence whether I comprehend it or not. And I find that very comforting. Great post.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I've had the same kind of experience most every time I hike in the mountains near my home. It's as if I've slipped into a world ever so much closer to God.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Thank you goldenlucyd, for that kind comment. These were not thoughts that easily found expression but I am pleased that you found the content relative and comforting. That is so sweet to hear.

mike, thanks for stopping in. Certainly nature, if we take time to absorb it, makes us truly appreciate the wonder of our existence.

1:59 AM  

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