Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Thousand Pitfalls a Day


Today I received an 'old-fashioned' letter which I read several times at the Café Rousseau. The village is immaterial: the letter isn't. The message is beautiful and haunting. A letter accords a sense of the individual which an email, a text, a phone call, or a face to face meeting can ever hope to express. Tonight I shall sleep with the letter beneath my pillow as the moon lights up the rooftops in the village, and lazily watch my chest gently rise and fall as tranquility fills the room. 

I feel stronger than I did yesterday, and, indeed, the day before. Sometimes, thinking is worst than physical pain. I'm thankful, however, that bleak thoughts can be sweetened by satin words from a fresh-faced, beautiful - not necessarily, attractive - young woman. What do I fear? Perhaps drowning in my own thoughts, when frightening memories wash back and forth, and overwhelm my strength and spirit.

I recall watching a cow giving birth. And how the mother tenderly licked her calf. I was seven-years-old. The grass in the field graced my father's knees. His face, normally hard, was covered in a shiny coat of sweat. I could sense he was content, happy. For a moment he stood motionless, glanced at me, and smiled. I thought, 'It's so beautiful. The newly-born calf is so beautiful!' I had witnessed the birth of a new life.
'What do you want?!' a shrill voice exclaimed. A boorish waitress with a red face and pink arms stared down at me. 

'A coffee, please.'

'We don't have any!'

'Tea ...' I felt like a hunted animal.

'There's nothing to eat or drink! Don't you know there's a war on!' she said frostily.

The main shopping street was busy. Everything seemed normal. The coffee shop was full of people. I looked at them, one by one, through pale eyes. What were they thinking about? Some sat with their eyes closed, as if asleep.

'What war?' I enquired. The dazzling glare of the lights made me giddy. Everything that seemed simple a moment before now seemed complicated.  'What war are you talking about?'

The waitress came close to me. Her mustard breath tortured me. 'You must be a foreigner! What war?! Look around you! There has to be balance in nature between good and evil, love and hatred, murderers and bodies, or all hell breaks loose!'

To change the subject, I expressed interest in the coffee shop, and its customers.

'Don't they all look sad?' she asked, without waiting for an answer.

At such moments I wait for my thinking to produce words to lighten my heart and mind. It's strange how individuals and groups can cultivate fear. They trade in life and death, and can penetrate the strongest ceilings and walls. Their eyes shine in the darkness as their claws dig deeper and deeper into the bodies and souls of victims. The scent of death is never far from all things beautiful.

Reflections: It is not possible to identify yourself in someone else, dream their dreams, or to enter their soul. We are alone, finite, prisoners of our own egotism. Each one of us face 'a thousand pitfalls a day.'

Each second on this earth a person's mouth quivers with contempt and hatred of fellow human beings. They live in a restricted world of unceasing conflict. Such individuals may breathe copiously but they are already dead: they feel no sense of love, compassion, sadness, or loss. The one thing they cannot tolerate, above all other things, is life.