Friday, December 23, 2011

He Does Not Know


This year, I think I’ve been privileged to share in and witness more joy, pain, and accomplishment than any other: the birth of our second grandson back in early spring; the battles of friends with self-doubt, poverty, loneliness, mental instability, and terminal disease; the folly of selfishness and the subsequent harm to and tearing asunder of relationships; the tragedy of sudden, untimely death; new love; inspiring, triumphant works of art — and all, it seems, coming to pass in the blink of an eye, and just as soon to be swept on by the wind.

The question arises: What is a man to do, how is he to respond to such wealth? Most days, he begins by brushing his teeth and putting on his slippers or his shoes, then he continues by washing his grandson’s hands, or wiping the restless boy’s behind while Grandma makes lunch, and then he moves on to pretending he is a waterfall, made real by shimmering silvery hair. He cannot begin except at the beginning, but he also knows this is the precipice, the culmination of the entire history of the world, the result, the glory, the comedy, the reason, and the accidental, inevitable outcome of all that went before.

And then there is the night, which is his dream made visible to eyes other than his own, the phantom world where minds cross and bodies pass through walls. Affectionately, proudly, helplessly, he calls this his work.

He does not know — and perhaps this most defines him — where or if or how he fits into others’ lives, or even if such knowledge is desirable. He does not know where one thought ends and another begins, or if there is but one thought which encompasses and ultimately confounds all. He wonders if, in the next moment, he will be alive. He wonders if he will be missed or brushed aside. He remembers strange things at beautiful, inopportune times. He climbs a tree with his cousin just as someone passes the wild greens and rice — but at whose table, and in what far-off wreck of time? He considers, with humility, how he must once have been a donkey or a stone, and that he may well move on to river, bee, or hill. He says, almost without hearing himself, “I knew a man who was a wishing well.”

And what does he know? That fear and ignorance still bear thorns within his walls.

Outside, all around him, the gifts are piled high.

He recalls telling a priest once how much he enjoyed funerals, and the look of confusion on the poor man’s face when he tried to explain how people are at their best when they don’t know how to carry on. They were standing in a cemetery.

He is granted insight, and entrusted with despair. He is given help that chases darkness from his soul.

To know him, is to know yourself. But to love him, aye, that is the rub.


18 comments:

Anthony Duce said...

Wonderful writing.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Anthony.

-K- said...

I certainly hope "He Does Not Know" isn't swept away by the wind just yet.

It's too good.

Jan said...

Beautiful words from someone who writes from his heart and soul~~~

Happy Holidays

William Michaelian said...

Kevin, thanks. Your comment makes a nice paperweight. Maybe you just bought this entry a little time.

Merry Christmas, Jan. Best wishes to you and your family. Thank you, and thanks for a wonderful year of art and friendship.

Akeith Walters said...

Insightful. Good writing, good reading.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks very much, Gray.

Nazia Mallick said...

'He Does Not Know'what a magician he is with words. How he says things which only heart would know, and how he makes the most profound silence speak a thousand words of its own!
You, William!

William Michaelian said...

You, Nazia! What a dear friend you are.

martinealison said...

Bonjour,
Je ne vous laisse pas très souvent des commentaires, cependant je vous visite... Mais j'avoue que parfois il m'est difficile de tout comprendre... j'utilise alors le traducteur google qui lui ne me donne pas la version correcte de ce que vous écrivez...
Cependant en ce jour particulier je voulais vous souhaiter à vous et à tous ceux que vous aimez une douce nuit de noël et tous mes voeux pour 2012.
Gros bisous

Two Tigers said...

Thanks to this bit of writing, the pile of gifts around me has just increased by one. Many thanks, and happy happy holidays, William.

William Michaelian said...

And a wonderful Christmas to you and your family, Martine. Thank you. We feel our way despite language; yet somehow, our hearts have the final say.

The feeling goes both ways, Gabriella. If it didn’t, I don’t think either of us would be up so early in the morning to say so! I wish you and Brian great joy this season.

Tàne Mar said...

Eternal write on the eve of the Holy Birth, and a wish of mine for many more to come, I quietly drop in the well!
Marry Christmas, William! Thank you!

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Tanya! Merry Christmas. Your visit and kind words this morning are truly a gift.

erin said...

He cannot begin except at the beginning, but he also knows this is the precipice, the culmination of the entire history of the world, the result, the glory, the comedy, the reason, and the accidental, inevitable outcome of all that went before.

i was going to say, and this is why i love you, but this is only one feather on the bird that is you. the bird flies in the sky, settles in the tops of pine becoming the top of pine (i have seen this!) and sometimes it, sadly, flies into windows. (i have seen this, too.) but the bird does fly. the bird. is. you. i love the bird. i love everything about the bird, even that which is not pretty, even that which struggles to just simply be the bird.

the bird is. and here we are alive.

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

And here we are, alive. Thanks, Erin. Sometimes the bird flies into windows that are open. I’ve seen that, too.

Geckostone said...

I'm flying with all of this! Thanks William and everyone for the magic! Deb

William Michaelian said...

Thanks very much, Deb. We’re glad you’re here!