Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nina Simone - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

I watched the earthquake in Japan on the internet. 

Then I stopped writing here. I watched those images and then had nothing to say, as the real estate of fear all of a sudden seemed like a thing I had never seen at all. Like any fear I had ever experienced was so microscopic, so infinitesimal, so utterly unnotable next to what I was seeing, I could not type in the wake of such a thing. Well first, I could not actually understand the scope of it. Like all footage of devastation afar: Haiti, Libya, Rwanda, Auschwitz, Chernobyl, Lower Manhattan. I cannot imagine these things. And yet I have to, because even looking at them, I cannot understand. And does the fear come during the thing, or just after it when your mind realizes it is still alive? Are you afraid as the ocean goes vertical, as it undulates in a sheet, the planet itself unhinged and angry, moving over itself and everything in its way, your home, your son, your garden? Does the fear come after the impact of the plane, the implosion of glass, the first blood soaked co-worker you see careening toward a water cooler, dazed and parched, insane? Or does the fear come in the moment, when the stone buckles, when the fire roars, when the guns crack? 

Watching footage of the unimaginable is the actual limit of the imagination. You cannot smell the sewage or the plastic melting. You do not feel the temperature rise, the air heavy, stuffed with panic and death and sorrow and radiation and poison. You cannot touch the broken edges of lost wine goblets, cars opened like Pepsi cans, or the wet regret of loss. You can try to imagine it, but you will fail. Maybe even if you are there, you still have to imagine it, because how could you ever open your mind that wide?

Your heart, maybe. 

Anyhow, finally I came back, afraid. Even here, safe, warm, and alive, an organic pink lady apple still kicking flavors around my lucky mouth. I am not afraid so much that the next apocalypse will be mine, but more afraid that I will never be able to rise to the occasion of each one belonging to us all, each tragedy an epic, each bereaved mother a Demeter, and every morning our duty to go out into the world and honor the fire in our belly. No matter what the ocean does that day.

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