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Between the Torrent and the Endless Sand
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To swim up the stream of pathos to find the source of love is to defy the impulse to not swallow water.

As part of this love, sometimes I embrace and comfort myself by writing in the second person singular. An attempt at distancing from myself. Hopefully, I can render a more tender affection to my own consternations. I hope the reader, thus informed, can forgive me the seemingly pointed finger of a pronoun, which in fact I hope is understood. I am only creating a balm of membrane between myself and my own inescapable confusion. To find relief, both topographical and emotional, that self-objectification provides. There is too much grief to write about, why add my own? And yet, just as a matter of self-recognition and self-respect, I must put my drop in the ocean.

Love is a torrent, and you follow it even in the drought years, the ones where you are slavering for a sip, and you walk flat-footed up a dry creek bed, finding pitiful fetid pockets of dying moss in mud that bowls, as if cupped hands, a drop or two.

If you are lost, or have no faith in the source, you might be tempted to drink from these tainted pools, some no bigger than teardrops, and you would not be faulted. But it may not further your journey. It may lead you to sit on the sharp and hot rocks under the merciless sun, and weep, and weep and weep.

Needless to say, this expression of homage to loss may impede the journey, rather than give it impetus. You may lose your momentum. You may find yourself now looking only for a tree, for shade, for just a place to rest your heated brain. The longest distance they talk about between brain and heart is overcome sometimes only by overheating. The Golden Mean seems but a myth.
And yet, somehow, there are trees here waving small olive-colored shiny leaves, leaves as if armor protecting their waters, and generous as an expanding umbrella, they provide healing pause without comment. Their roots must go deep, touching some unknown spring. They know so much more than I do.

Dark clouds gather, and you are grateful, now cowering before your own frailty, and seem to ignore the danger. Thunderheads can bring mirroring shambolic peril to those in the harm’s way of flash flooding.

Even now, soaked in mud, and left by some miracle still alive at what was the bank of a stream that had its fifteen minutes of fame and water just now. Now, you can’t follow the stream bed, because it is as if the stream bed itself has been washed away and left only a tarry tide of unnavigable detritus, where only moments ago a dry path seemed to be the impediment.

Always on the way to the water of life, no simple task. Maybe it’s because the elements of sky and the fiery ball within it, reach the earth, and its mostly undrinkable oceanic liquid, combine in swirling patterns of harmony that seem random to us, and the inexplicable ensues.

There is great danger in pretending to know what you don’t know, as if given a bubbling set of chemicals, all in different colors, unlabeled, and the instruction is to mix. No transformation of the situation can occur otherwise, and yet, without enough information, we clamber into the laboratory chamber with only our desires, and little clarity.

For most, I hope, unlike me, that clarity ensues. As we learn to affirm what works and reject what doesn’t, we form a life, envisioning we are in the driver’s seat, probably a sports car, given the proclivities of this.

Gasoline, the fuel of this age, is one of those bubbling chemicals, coming from deep within the earth, needing transformation to help fuel our journey to the waters of life. It is easy to ascribe villainy to the very unintended consequences we ourselves have created. Or worse, perhaps we did not participate in creating them, but we must pay the price of their continued existence, no matter how innocent we want to be.

All of us, for that innocence and trying hard to find it, whether we be walking, thumb aimlessly extended along a dusty road, fleeing a receding flash flood, or gleaming with smiles behind our sunglasses in a convertible sports car, where we think our greatest danger is to lose our jaunty new hat.

I suppose that is one way to exorcise the burden of grief that swirls around us like an invisible smoke. I, and you, and the “you” that is me are no more innocent, or culpable, than any or all of us. To understand this, this is love.


This piece is so filled with gorgeous images and mouth-watering language, I wanted to read it three times over. Thanks for such writing, Paul.and such ideas.

It may lead you to sit on the sharp and hot rocks under the merciless sun, and weep, and weep and weep.…..
Indeed. I so love this piece.

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