The Present

We took enough bread and cheese to last for several days. Up here, the days end early and so it gets colder in the afternoon. I was in love with Helen; she was in love with the world. I wanted to be like that, too, but for me the only way to the world was through someone I could love. When I am not near her, I am stranded in myself. Helen gives me the gift of feeling the value of things.

When we left she was angry. "The mosquitos, the mosquitos, always the mosquitos... I forgot how it is up here."

"They're hungry -- they need your blood to stay alive."

Am I explaining or being compassionate? For life in even it's weirder forms. And to think of it the mosquito is a strange shape life has taken in its drive to eat itself. I am strange looking myself, too. How many living things need me to stay alive? These are the kinds of questions that do nothing to drive away loneliness, though it seems like they could, if I only I believed in them stronger. I don't think Helen considers things this way. I watched her apply the spray that would keep the mosquitos away.

When I was Jesus' age, I first became aware I was slowly learning that everything that had happened to me was gone. I understood that it was a part of me, but not as deeply as I once thought it was. In my head were the constant ripples of experience but they were not the rock in the pond, and they faded. This meant I was not the sum of my experiences. I started to think at that age I was truly a man of the present. It was Christmas in the woods. Helen gave me another piece of bread and from inside the tent we watched the insects and the trees work, each at their own time scales. To everything its own pace. My heart is slow, but it knows what it wants. Set me into time lapse film and it will be startling clear: who I was, whose blood I needed.

No comments: