Friday, February 16, 2007

To Stand. To Sit.

Canticles 2: 9: Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices.

The point is epiphany.

Many years ago, years back when I was still little more than a boy, I walked down a dusty street in a sun-baked village off the map, and there in front of a store I stared at three men sitting in chairs, their arms and trunks bound, their smiles stupid and disturbing, the look in the eyes of one making me quake and tremble. I stared at the man till a fly crawled across his upper lip and then crawled inside his nostril without the man flinching or twitching or moving at all. Now, I knew he wouldn't move, that being obvious from all the bullet holes in his chest, he being as dead as his mates in the other chairs beside him; but I don't care how dead he was: the problem was that he looked straight at me without seeing me, and the fly went into his nose and stayed there.

I realised this evening, maybe not for the first time in my life, that I'm not groovy. I don't know what the average reader thinks of me as a man but I'll let you know right now so there's no further confusion: I am not a hep-cat, daddy-o.

I manage to live with these bits of self-awareness of my flawed character. I don't even want to be a cool dude. I couldn't be even if I wanted to be because I drink too much coffee. I have to face uncomfortable truths about myself sometimes. I make tomorrow's lunch the evening before. I'm a boring guy. I'm square.

I see myself as I am, and I see that I'm a boring guy. I've seen many things over the course of a long life-time: death, murder, massacre, torments that kill; torments that drive me to my knees, some of them torments from el Greco, some torments from grief indescribable. That makes me pretty ordinary. Not different from most men my age. Like other men, I too have known the heights of Heaven's loves.

There have been times in my life when I have looked at things as obvious as the nose on a man's face and I just didn't get it. And there are times when I have looked at the most painful personal failings I have and I have managed to survive the shame. Some things are easy: We in the Modern world are at war with the primitives of dar al-Islam and the fascists of our own kind in this time. They're ordinary people too. They do evil things to other ordinary people. We sit. We sit and we plan for war and struggle to defeat the primitives and the fascists.

This is the epiphany: we sit at the library in the atrium each Thursday from 7-9 p.m. outside of Blenz coffee bar; we wear blue scarves to announce ourselves to you; you can see if you look, and you will know.

We talk about you. We say: Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices.

Stop impersonating the cool and join us in the work of ordinary people sitting in chairs.


CGW said...

I think you are incredible.

If you want, I'll stop posting things that may embarrass you. But I find you exceptional.

dag said...

I usually feel it's important to encourage people to write comments even if they are hateful and stupid just so they know that I am willing to give them the space and freedom to do as they must regardless of my person. This is a funny situation, then. But it should enlighten Peers and Charles: they'll now understand why I show up at our weekly meetings in a tuxedo.

Yes, I enjoy the comments, even the nice ones. Thanks.