Sat at my desk, I wouldn’t even bother starting to write. I’d just put my head in my hands. What would I lay bear on the paper, anyway, I argued with my father over broken Easter presents from years gone by, lost opportunities and destroyed moments. It’d be better to just escape, run through a freshly harrowed field at lightning pace, disturbing the gulls as I flew by. I indulge in freedom and elevation, so much. I can let down my guard, show my person to the world and open the world to my person.
I live on a dirt road. Does this make me poor? Right now the mud is baked hard, but that could change at any one of these moments. This could have been an island the way the weather would change. I’d never be surprised by a crack or thunder or an out-of-place cloud on an otherwise fresh day. You go home wet some days. There’s no avoiding these things, not that you’d want to risk missing an adventure. Now I’m stranded on a real island under this mighty tree. It’s open ground here and so I feel a twinge of danger. My hair took a good soaking on the way over and now there are potential drops forming in the follicles of my brow.
Soon one will drop and cleanse my eyes. Soon there’ll be columns of slightly heavier rain cross this field. But nothing will happen before I make a decision on how I’m going to turn this into a real adventure. These things are unpredictable, and I have to adapt.
I can’t remember what we were taking from those little birds. Perhaps we were giving something to them, crumbled old bread. I can’t remember if we had good reason for being so passionate, about that or about anything, less a football or my best friend’s twelve-year-old son.
There was nothing, no detail, a few words exchanged with my distant next door neighbour. We hurled a few formalities in our loud voices without ever really approaching each other. I’m only going to take a couple of clods of dirt and nothing else. The times we did get up close, he would smile and laugh at how, for so long, I’d taken him for a mean and angry man. One time, he came with us and began to kick the ball around in the dirt field. But he was too stiff to get into it, and when he started smiling and laughing, then things really started to seize up.
I ran some more, onto a set-aside, where the tall seeds of the fountain grass whipped against my leather of my shoes. It was inevitable some of those heads would break off falling in the gap where a tongue should normally be. Perhaps it was only me who had this type of shoes. Perhaps it was possible that no man had ever run this fast. I felt as if I was being elevated, streamlined and thin. Could I take off before I got to that hedge line and the trees that copulated behind it?
That afternoon, I didn’t even dream. There was good reason, however, because I don’t think I slept either. I lay, watching the light orchestra of creation as it slid across the sky, moved by the blowing wind on the poplar outside my window. The light dimmed and brightened through the shutter slats, as the leafy foliage was pushed in and out of shape. The light waxed and waned as I drifted in and out of reality.
Life’s momentum struck me. I was thinking through a series of only not even vaguely related episodes, when something clicked into place. I slapped the mattress. I told myself I’d done something there, at that point. I whooped. I achieved something from nothing, changed the course of things.
It was the first moment of joy, and what followed it opened the path to moments of happiness, feeding back through the entire series of events that had led to a triumph. My head span more as the clouds drifted head long by.
I didn’t lay there too long or I’d never have gotten to sleep. I was drunk when I stood up, a feeling lying in wait for me. And so I lay back down. This time I was on my front. I didn’t move. I lay instead, thinking about how since then another moment had reversed everything. I had a moment of despair as I pictured my mother’s pain. Life had crossed and double-crossed me, leaving me without any joy. Without the circularity that lifted me, without the speed that elevated my soul, drawing it into linear movements which at worst would only risk losing the odd rain cloud.
I haven’t yet seen every type of human behaviour. I’m too young and I live on a dirt road. But I can explain a few of them to you. I can be as clear as to use terms of what they look like.
A retired couple sit in a café, side by side. Sometimes they are talking and other times just smiling in peace. In front of them a toddler trips as he mounts the curb from the street, the lady’s face drops when she sees and hears the mother reprimand the child. Inside her mind she spirals. When she comes back she retells the story to her husband. He is only mildly interested. She raises her voice as if the volume would impress the significance of the thought, eventually the couple’s peace dissolves into argument. The woman shouts as she speaks, laughs and pretends to enjoy the irony, but inside she is dying, and because she is, his life’s days also find the promise of abundance no longer harbours the kind of numbers it should.