Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My hands are rough, now, calloused from clearing brush, brambles, and thorny young trees along a road toward the future, however distant that place may be. Small punctures and scrapes dot the backs of my hands like bloody freckles, and a raw, red scratch along the inside of my left arm is nearly three inches long. When I flex my forearms, I see the muscles. Not huge muscles like a weightlifter’s, but practical ones.

I gave up enough calories every day in 2007 to feed another person, and lost 75 pounds. I am not thin, but I am no longer fat. I flirt with young women by asking them questions, and by listening to their answers; I do not chase them. I think of what they can become, and worry just a little for what might happen to them along the way, for the loss of innocence if it exists.

On New Year’s Eve, I sat alone, at the computer, in semi-darkness, content for the moment. It was cold outside. One recent night, a colder night, a short shriek about 2 a.m. woke me from a drifting sleep, focused my mind suddenly and totally on a moment when, I realized, coyotes caught some small prey in the deep, ancient forest filled with winter’s brown leaves and broken branches. At the computer last night, I sat in the magic castle, which may be crumbling around me. A tiny brass dragon protected me at the foot of the mythic mountain overlooking the endless sea on the other side. I listened for the ghost in the dungeon and smiled from time to time at the tiny, ever-changing chapel isolated, nearly, from the ravages of humanity.

One by one, the six muses joined me. I caressed their faces with my rough hands and hugged their bodies close for a moment, willing myself inside the curves of each of their minds as they sat near me on cushions in the circle of 40-watt light. I know each intimately, and not at all, as I wander through their souls, seduced. One for her beauty and intelligence. One for teaching me listening and longing. One for passion and perseverance. One for art and for teaching me conscious living. One for distance and compassion. One for enigma, and for growth. They take turns reading to me from tattered paperbacks.

One read from Lau Tzu: ““Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.”

One read from T.S. Eliot: “Unless we can find a pattern into which all problems of life can have their place, we are only likely to go on complicating chaos.”

One read a quote from cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, whose movies include “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “From Dusk Til Dawn:” “I approach them from the idea where I consider the cinematography, the images, to be the language of the movie . . . I have to find the condition, the space, the atmosphere for that story to be inhabited . . . I’m interested in the movie that allows me to delve into the concept of reality.”

One read from the work of educator Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: “The bigger the world we inhabit, the closer we come to truth.”

One read from a novel by Russell Hoban: “I don’t know what I am now. A whispering out of the dust. Dried blood on a sword and the sword has crumbled into rust and the wind has blown the rust away but still I am, still I am of the world, still I have something to say . . .”

The sixth reached toward me and held me in a long, soothing embrace.