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Graveyards and Wax Cylinders

Posted on 2006.09.04 at 14:21
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A letter to my beloved M.M., after she witnessed a ghost--her first experience with something supernatural, and a meditation on the spiral of life experience:

[The] experience you shared turned my skin to gooseflesh. Not because it scared me, but because I know you experienced something preternatural. Frightening as much as wondrous, because experiences like these, which my rational mind tries so hard to deny and explain away as micro-REM bursts, waking dreams, moments of cognitive dissonance--when we experience them, if they are indeed what they seem to be, suggest that there is so much more to the world. Wonderful when I think, "Ah, your soul and my soul really will be walking after midnight, long after our bones have turned to dust, but terrible to consider that if echoes or ghosts of loving companions endure beyond the grave, what of the destructive, cruel souls and reverberations of ancient brutalities? It's almost more comforting to think that nothing we cannot measure empirically exists, but then, with reductionism, comes the dreadful, "That's all folks," or as E.A. Poe put it, "Out, out are all the lights..." You mentioned the experience was in keeping with your "instincts about time and space and reality." What do your instincts tell you now--where do you find yourself in your journey of faith, the supernatural? Can you define your personal ontology? I don't know that I could. My own is such a knot of contradictions.

I loved what you wrote about your journey through the spiral*, the revisitations, which are another form of haunting, no? As Clive Barker said, "We are all our own graveyards." As long as we keep reading the histories written on the tombstones, the epitaphs of the lives we've lived, the stories of our own tragedies and triumphs, and learn from what we read there, we will move on, not condemning where and who we once were, not cursing the secret selves we've buried, but appreciating the lives we've lived for what they were. We will learn and move on, not exercising Karma in some other life, but embracing it in this life when given the chance, so we can rise and go forth in strength and enlightenment. You are living the antithesis of the sickness now, not the downward spiral but the upward one. I know you are--I know it in my soul.

The artist lays the spiral of life experience on its side, and the coils become the groves inscribed on a wax cylinder. We press the needle into the groove, listen to the music, and appreciate the beauty of the whole. Memory does not etch a pristine recording, but each time we revisit the song of experience, we better appreciate the movements of our life. It is the soundtrack for all that lies before us.

As for you being in the lightning round, I think you're through the electrical storm and at that place where the thunder echoes. You're seeing the aftermath of the storm with clear, sober eyes. You can see the destruction, and the life the waters bring. You can see the path through the fallen branches. Me, I'm the fool who is still running up to the mountaintop with a lightning rod clutched in my fist.

*A metaphor for our journey in life as a spiral, or more specifically, a long coil of revolutions reminiscent of a spring. The idea is that we are not following the same circuit repeatedly, but tracing a path in life that brings us around again and again to similar circumstances, where we must make a choice to evolve or devolve. Hence the "downward spiral" or the "upward spiral." Analogous, but not identical to Shakespeare’s "this mortal coil," which winds down as we move toward our final dissolution.


wicked witch of the west
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