Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rats


After eons of use, a broken heart continues to survive as an apt metaphor.  Along with its adjectival—heart-breaking—use, broken heart remains the go-to description for a loss or disappointment of wrenching, epic intensity.  In its simplicity is the artful descriptive conveyance of raised and dashed hopes, the pottery of dreams in shards, the promise of connection to a vision or another person as forlorn as two unmatching sox in a drawer.

Broken heart, as a trope, also reminds you on a daily basis of two essentials to being a writer:

1) the number of times every day you are disappointed as a writer and as a person
2) the ongoing need as a writer and as a person to remain vulnerable to having your heart broken.

Without openness to experience and the potential any experience has for immediate explosion or meltdown or entropy, you are no longer a witness and thus you have no miracle to reflect upon and report, no illusion to be shattered or exposed, no expectation for some small ragamuffin of extraordinary beauty and impact to invite your senses to dance.

Being thus vulnerable is not without risk.  You will be seen as moody, melodramatic, self-important, all things you in fact become when the right stimulus pickpockets your wallet of propriety.  When a dog with a worried expression or a cat seeming to be trapped on a ledge become reminders that the jungle out there of hyperbole is never far from encroaching, you are of course moody for unknown things outside yourself  When a publisher speaks of your next project after the next one you owe, you strike poses from Verdi and Rossini and Mozart opera, flamboyant, Italian.  How are you not self-important when filled with visions you wish to share, fearful you cannot convey the grace and individuality of a particular thing, a particular place, a person who radiates the quality of a cornflower volunteered within a sidewalk crack?
 
You have completed a scene in which you have set into dramatic motion everything you wish to include, well aware you held back on details that were quite dear and meaningful to you, lest you be seen as too literal, too controlling, too unwilling to trust the already heavy breathing of your details.  An editor you trust will suggest things to you that seem so sure, so accurate, so achingly apt that you now wonder how you could have missed them.  And your heart is broken.  Yet again.

The new barista with the topaz eyes at the coffee shop meets your gaze two days in succession with an attitude that you realize, as you sip your latte, has broken your heart although you don’t quite know why.  And on the third day, your heart having been broken twice, your eyes meet and there is no attitude, only recognition, and you are again devastated as you are hours later when a sentence that seemed to greet you with that same fresh, I-m-alive attitude seems to have lost something in the context of the previous sentence.

To be sure, there is no device sensitive enough to tally all the flashing music of discovery you experience during a fraction of a day, no measure of the times some nerve ending or sensory receptor sends you a letter of acceptance, informing you some part of your body enjoyed some idea or figment or sight or sound or smell.  Much less yet can you account for all the thousands of times you have not even noticed “feeling good” about something although, had you not “felt good” about it, you would have noticed with that brooding ache of subsurface dissatisfaction.

Life is like the super cargo ships, laden, packed, filled.  Like the cargo ships, life sometimes has unintended passengers.  Certain anthropologists will speak with glee of the unintended transport throughout the world of the Norwegian brown rat or the rattus rattus black rat species species.  Life has rats in some of its cargo.  You have to be vulnerable to be heartbroken if you are to have any hope of seeing and trying to capture those remarkable sentences and senses and baristas with topaz eyes.


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