Turquoise is the colour of marriage: its word was created to solve arguments resulting from seeing; it always existed in the inner layers of waves, like an unpolished stone, but once spoken it broke like the first light of day and became the sought-after strip on the horizon of our getaways. We travel far to see this line, often on honeymoons, our plane rides are a sort of mining and we wish that we could somehow peel this strip from the sky, roll it up in our suitcases and spread it out again on the white walls of our living rooms, but it remains where it is. Photographs never seem to keep it: in them there are greens and blues, all beautiful, but this mysterious colour is wrapped in snow. But we have the word, we can say it and it appears now, a sky appears that couldn’t be accessed before and we put the turquoise in rings to remind ourselves at both the beauty of knowing and not knowing.
Here, modest eggplant,
Tasting however the cook wills.
Over there, aubergine.
Conversation begins unevenly
Voices start and trail off
Themes are tentatively suggested
Only to float away like the steam
Billowing from dark roast coffee
Studied silences are many
Typically broken by two desperate
Souls who speak simultaneously
Than stop in a fit of giggles
There is a moment, when you throw away the stones to pick up the jewels, during which you hold nothing. At this time you look at your hands, you turn them around, seeing them for the first time; you study their contours like waves roll over shells on the beach. Sacrifice is a death and a birth: what is lost cannot be denied its value, but if it is mourned the gift retreats into its purity. Some think the gods want us to throw victims in volcanoes; some that we should make ourselves bleed or hunger or retreat. Some think it is their duty to die in the name of freedom, justice or fidelity. When we sacrifice we understand more about what these things are but when we have selfish motives we’re only beating the words with a shovel. There is a special room perhaps that God keeps all things sacrificed. Some think that in heaven they’ll go into this room and all that they gave will be inside. Those that sacrificed know, however, that it is a room full of flowers. Their thoughts, words and actions appear here in supreme colours. Sacrifice is the digging of fingers into soil to make holes for seeds. The seeds will never be themselves again, but that doesn’t matter.
She smiled with weeping eyes and I could see that this was her unrelenting sacrifice for my brothers, my sisters and me. When I looked at her, really looked at her, I saw a world of rich experience. I saw stories in each wrinkled line of her face, I saw happy memories in the deep dimples that sat crater-like on the two sides of her mouth, and a world of painful joy in her eyelids, that narrowed every time she looked at us and smiled, covering all but the black of her eyes.
She shared her struggles, but never in a way that made me feel burdened or sad. She would tell me that she missed my grandfather or sometimes that she wished she could go back home, if just for a day. She would cry while sharing stories of her past, and would sit still and quiet when she heard a piece of music that reminded her of her husband, but her grief was not despair. I had seen sad people before, that would refuse to be joyful and happy even when happiness and joy came to find them, and who used their difficulties as an excuse to fight or to hide away, but in her transparency and readiness to smile and laugh with us, she showed us that sadness was natural, but should eventually have an end. That sadness was inevitable, but our paths should never end there.
She would tell us, “Tears are like rainfall, that is healthy and good, but only for a short period of time. They can impair and overwhelm sight if left unbridled by the sky. She would then hold us tight and say, “My little ones you are like skies that have great horizons and potential. You must always allow the sun’s rays to pass through you.”
So, her sadness would not burden us, but still, she would try and hold back tears associated to loss and disappointment. She sought to uplift. And this sacrifice of her most human inclination, to cry, to create a joyful atmosphere, is something that I always try to remain conscious of.
But if the word “cat” means anything, it means something which is not this or that cat, but some kind of universal cattiness. This is not born when a particular cat is born, and does not die when it dies. In fact, it has no position in space or time; it is “eternal”…Bertrand Russell, describing Plato’s realm of forms and language
Somewhere, off in another land, the perfect wife exists. She must, we believe this, for how else would we know if the meat is cooked, or the picture frames are straight; how else could we produce accurate measurements. We look over our shoulders, up to her. She does what she does with an alarming lightness. She sweats luminosity.
Somewhere, perhaps down this road, the perfect house exists. We all have to clean our house because of this house. Somewhere it glimmers without dust, somewhere deep in its corridors roses grow from marble. We leave in the morning hoping that while we are in between spaces, we inhabit it.
Somewhere there exists my perfect self. It’s not in my closet: I’ve looked. I have to do a whole checklist of things in order to find her: I have to stop biting my nails, I have to stop thinking about trophies, but once I walk on water and shine like the sun she will come out of me and life will be better.
I wanted my friends to think I cared about the environment, so I started becoming more conscious of what I ate and how I disposed of things
I wanted my friends to perceive me as knowledgeable, so I’d memorize important ideas to share with others
I wanted my family to think I cared, so one day I cooked for my grandmother, who I knew would lovingly tell my father.
I wanted the world to think I sacrificed, so I began making appointments and efforts to help others.
I wanted to seem and so I did. In doing I recognized the importance of what I had drawn myself into. In wanting to seem my participation became a hundred times more difficult. My motivation was me and what I what I wanted others to see, but never what I thought I should be.
Those self-driven incentives drove me into a state of hard awareness, as I began to try doing what I was doing, but in a different state of mind.
I started to see that authenticity was more than doing, but being as well. Authenticity could hardly be being without doing either. No it was both, and my life couldn’t be a struggle for authenticity, but for coherence between the things that I thought and consequently, how I chose to act.
There are some things we want to grow and other things we wish would go away. I look at my plants and say GROW GROW GROW you’re not growing fast enough for me! I open up a container of old yogurt and think disgusting! I wish you never grew here! Other growing things appear out of nowhere. Thoughts are their seeds. In fields one hundred houses sometimes pop up, like contagious mushrooms. How did they get there so fast? It’s a planned growth: some like it; others do not. Many growths are the cause of argument: there is hole in the sky that keeps growing and growing, for instance. And of course there are people. It can be uncomfortable if someone next to you is growing rapidly, like seedlings sprouting in the same pot. He’s growing too much! You might think. The sun won’t be able to shine on me! But you’ll see, soon you’ll both be replanted in new, larger pots. It’s only because you don’t see the endless possibilities of growth that you feel stuck where you are. Sometimes we find ourselves tiny sitting in a gigantic cup that we can’t see out of. In these situations we have to be patient with ourselves. One day we will reach the brim and peer out over the possibilities. And then instead of a cup, there will be a wall. When you reach the wall you’ll know you’re growing. Growth needs a direction: plants grow toward the sun. So as you’re marking up the walls of your home with milestones of growth, don’t leave yourself behind. You’re going somewhere.
The pot on the stove boiled insistently, yet no one paid attention. The melting walls of the Morgan’s house were transfixing. “Can someone get that?” her father remarks, loudly but awkwardly, as if the world was a train that had run off its tracks and it was his responsibility to lift it back on. Ada didn’t know what he was talking about because she didn’t hear the sound of the kettle anymore. Was she supposed to get the house? It was undergoing a surely dangerous transmutation. What was happening to the house was hard to put into words: there was no fire. But from the roof large white tears of wall wept down it, as if it were a large, unshapely candle. Ada gets up and turns off the stove. “What kind of tea do you want?” she asks her parents. “I have to get to bed early tonight,” her mother says. Should I call someone? Ada wonders: the fire department, the police force, the newspaper, a doctor? There are kids in there, inside that melting house and I’ve been staring at it but they’re not coming out. Automatically she gets ready for bed, brushes her teeth, combs her hair, puts on her pyjamas. But she finds that it hurts to lay in bed. The sound of the kettle buzzes in her mind. Something is happening but everything is silent, still and black. Closing her eyes hurts. Without sound, she places her feet on the wood floor. She walks down the stairs but her legs are tense and she has to tell them twice what to do. Out the kitchen window the Morgan’s home is gone. In it’s place a large white puddle glimmers in the moonlight, as if it’s winking at her. She sees the family standing together in disbelief. Ada opens her front door and steps out of her house.