Note: For those with barnheart - check out the new chick pics on my blog Living the Complicated Simple Life.
The Friday Challenge
Alex Cavanaugh commented on my last post that chicks might not be too bright. He may be right about that - I've had lots of conversations about the intelligence or lack thereof of chickens but I'm not going to enter that debate right now. What I was offering (or attempting to) was a parable on the dilemma of desire. That, because we are unable to have our cake and eat it too, we become frantic in the attempt. We want things, or accomplishments, or love, or connectivity, so badly that when we have it we become immediately terrified of its loss. We fail to enjoy the moment in the realization of its immanence.
Loss has been a theme, both major and minor, over this spring for me. I feel beseeched by loss on every side. Loss of my last parent, loss of my dad in particular, loss of a hope I had for a piece of work, loss of some connections through various family issues and so on. Some years are just like that, and I remind myself that the illusion of having these things led to the feelings of loss and not the other way around.
Last night I went to a show at the high school that our student from Germany, Felix, was in. My step-kids and Felix go to a wonderful high-school. The music teacher there was a source of so much inspiration and delight for most who encountered her. My step-dot and Felix were in the band, in choirs, in the yearly musical and went on the magical trip to New York City. There have been coffee houses of the most elevated sort with fantastical displays of talent. Unfortunately, the teacher made some bad choices and had to leave her post. This was devastating to her students and although they understood to some degree what had happened, the administration handled it very badly. Nothing was properly explained and there was no provision for the very real grieving the kids needed to do. So they handled it. The musical was cancelled but the musical happened. The kids did it themselves. They organized three months of rehearsals and props, and lights and sound. They stage-managed, directed, and finagled there way to a production that was a resounding success. And they did it all for ONE NIGHT. Yes, the performance was only the one night. It was a fabulous hour (short but great play Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog ) and then it was done.
I love that about plays. I do. I always loved tear-down, after the last performance. Like the sweeping up of the sand from the carefully constructed sand-mandala of the Tibetan masters', the very ephemeral quality of it makes you pay attention in a different way than we've become used to.
We want to keep everything - we photograph ourselves in front of the Eiffel Tower and have videos made of our weddings, our children's christenings, summer camp, graduations, even our funerals. The trouble with this desire to contain the moment is many-fold: we don't really have the cake and eat it too because we aren't present in either moment, there is no permanence and even those most desirous of it know that, and most vividly we are causing ourselves suffering with our clinging.
Last night, everyone sighed just the tiniest bit because we couldn't have the experience again and yet - and yet there was a great collective feeling of appreciation for that very same thing. Only once - get it right - get it right enough. And isn't that how stories used to be told? The storyteller, a rambler, a vagrant usually, would come to our village's fire and tell us stories for our warmth, our company and our evening meal. The longer they could spin out those stories, the longer they could rest before the next leg of their journey. Or the caravan would approach with the Players and the fun would be on. And people would feast on the memory for the rest of the long year before the Players were back with even more stories clinging to the familiar frame-work of the tales they spun.
Your Friday Challenge, dear writers, dear readers, is to create something in the next week that will not exist beyond the moment you offer it to others. A poem that once read is consumed by the flame of a match. A song that is sung once and then the melody forgotten, a meal that you give all heart and soul to and then forget the recipe for. You will think, if you're like me, that you can't throw away that perfect lovely piece of prose - you just can't - but you can. Go on, I dare you!