Saturday, August 1, 2015

Stones, Rolling and Otherwise

Somewhere along your way from then to now, things began to lose their ability to define themselves as they once had.  Although things remained what they were, they also radiated other possibilities. Dots and dashes became the Morse code.  Semaphore and nautical flags had meanings depending on the order in which they were displayed.  Ice cubes melted.

You learned to construct secret codes of your own, based on picking a letter from the alphabet at random, then assigning to it the value of A, its successor becoming B, until you'd gone through the available options, leading you to the true A, which could have well had the value of a G or an H.

 You began to wonder then what other hidden meanings lay in wait for you to discover.  At the time, you still had few things you wished to hide, but by then you'd begun to read of individuals such as Leonardo Da Vinco and Gallileo, who found the need to write in code.  Buoyed by their need for secrecy, you began to nourish hopes for discoveries that must be reported with care and stealth.

A stone was no longer a mere stone, at rest in a spread of other stones.  You lifted such a stone, hefted it to see all its surfaces, then assessed its potential for movement on its own.  Why should the innate ability of a stone to move have consequences for the boy whom you were, the boy who could concoct a code, but had nothing to encrypt?

The stone had consequence because you'd arrived at a defining point.  You'd been exposed to the conventional wisdom of your culture long enough to cause the onset of dissatisfaction.  You could accept the answers of received understanding--water at sea level will boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius; the sun orbits about the earth--or you could begin a slow, deliberate questioning of everything you saw until you in some way understood the logic of the wisdom.

Sure enough, the stone in your hand revealed to you a tiny particle of what might be moss or lichen.  Given the stone's shape, you could see it had once rolled, but had settled in somewhere, long enough to gather moss.  

You pitched the stone some distance from where you'd found it, wished it well in its new venue, then forgot about it until this writing of the incident.  How had it fared since then in this new setting so dependent on your whim when you cast it into its future?  The great probability you had in mind when casting it rather than dropping it where you'd found it was to see how far you could throw a stone.

This is no idle speculation of whether stones have the ability to fare well or ill.  Rather, this is a recognition that you and the stone, the one with scant traces of moss or lichen, are kindred entities, both of you cast by forces of which you have little or no control.

Your decision for yourself, based on a combination of whim and deliberation, is to gather as little moss as possible.  Even then, you hope to have made some considered choices about the nature and quality of any moss you might gather.  Your choices are sure to reflect the possible metaphorical connection between the culture from which you come, the cultures you've investigated, and the observations you've made while still seeing no need to encrypt them.  Rather the opposite, in fact,

This leaves you at the moment with, among other things, the consequences of throwing that one stone, yards from where you found it.  If, as you believe, one has a responsibility for the consequences of one's actions, you compose this with the awareness of some connection to that stone, thrown so long ago.  You are the sum of all consequences of your actions, not only the consequence of having thrown that stone but for the total of all such actions including those you no longer remember.

You are primarily grateful to your parents for having caused you to be here now, mindful you might not be here, were it not for the SIDS death of their first-born son.  Through much of your early years, you were aware of the grief you mother carried over this loss.  Your father was not one to speak of or demonstrate grief, but watching him after the death of his mother, you understood but could not decipher the code of his grief.  Each lived into the ninth decade, which conventional wisdom and observation tell you is a long ride.  You pay out your grief by seeing each in your dreams.  

Your sister did not have as long a ride.  On occasion, you see her in your dreams, but more often you see her in terms of you thinking to call her, as you often did, to report   consequences of you, being cast here and there, as you cast the stone.   There is great comfort braided in with the awareness that you can no longer call her; you had her to call and the habit persists.

From time to time, you wondered fancifully how you would have fared with an older brother, and indeed you've begun to address this consequence of your life in a novel, where you have given your protagonist the need to engage and repair a contentious relationship with an older brother.

At one point, you made considerable effort to locate the burial place of your older sibling, dead at age six months.  Some cemetery in the east side of Los Angeles.  At once point, in some attempt at solidarity with your mother, you even volunteered to go with her, but your offer was not accepted.  At one point, when she returned from a visit, she was saddened by the disrepair of the grounds.

He, wherever his remains have reposed all these years, is as distant from you as the stone you once cast, but his consequences and yours persist.

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