A man stands in a large cavern underground. The feeble light of his lantern brushing gently against some of the nearby walls before it disappears into darkness. A feeling of an immense space weighs down upon his head and darkness is heavy. A shuffle of his feet calls echoes from the corners of the vast space around him. He feels as though he is in the womb of the Earth. A word that comes to his mind is ‘depth’.
A man stands in the middle of a grand colosseum. Arching high over his head are the supports for this architectural feat. Impressive, gigantic, and immense it encompasses a very large wide-open space that can easily accommodate thousands of people. A word that comes to his mind is ‘grandeur’.
A man stands in the middle of a large warehouse. He remembers the past when the warehouse was full of equipment, of bustling people and constant activity. Now they are all gone and only the walls of the building stand, its windows are silent witnesses to the quiet and solitude that has taken the place of industry and energy. The building is now a husk. A word that comes to his mind is ‘loss’.
I was reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” earlier. As I lay in bed, awaiting sleep to drift over me, my mind goes to something I read the day before. One of the characters described kissing the man from mars as wonderful in that he did so with his entire self and that he tried to experience just the person he was kissing, with no distractions, no time, nothing else but her.
As I thought of this I remembered a time back in early 95. There were three or four of us in my car and we were returning from a short drive in the country and going back to the UAM campus. The topic of kissing came up and I had made the declaration that a kiss was when one tried to experience every molecule and fiber of another self, a cherished self, a self that is separate and to whom every fiber and molecule of one’s own self tried to merge with. The kiss was the bridge in an attempt to dispense with me/you and instead make ‘we’… though even that is wrong, for a we is a plural of two individuals and the drive, the hope, in such a kiss was the loss of individual. One knows one’s own body intimately, and to be able to know one’s beloved body as well, every detail, every breath, every heartbeat, would bring alongside another consciousness like that of another self-consciousness. No separateness, but only one where there were earlier two.
As I remembered this very real drive and belief of mine, I remembered such kisses on my part. It wasn’t a drive to do away with, or discharge, pent up sexual energy. It was a deliberating, an experiencing of the fullness of one’s beloved, honestly in an attempt at such, and not just a passionate kiss born of one’s libido. The thought of my last great love, a remarkable woman indeed, came to mind. I had seen her again recently after several months of separation after my break-up with her. After seeing her I’ve noticed odd stirrings of emotion, though I am unable to name what these emotions are within me. I commented at the time that I could not name these emotions. Still cannot. Though something stirs beneath the waves, for what else would cause the surface to stir as such?
In my near lucid state, drifting close to sleep as I was, I imagine sitting before her and contemplating her face and her looking back at me. It is quite easy to imagine her face beaming with patience, love, and joy, and asking me what I felt. It is all she has ever given to me. And sitting there, in this imagined place within my mind, I told her a story.
A woman cried her eyes out and wailed in anguish on the phone. Finding it hard to breath she choked back sobs and clutched her phone as though she could squeeze oxygen from it. I approached her and talked her through some exercises to calm her down, center her awareness onto her body. And she began to settle a little in anxiety. Her broken heart, however, did not abate. Tears streamed down her face she let her broken heart sink lower into the depths of her being.
I looked at her and told her that she had a precious gift. Looking at me with eyes of disbelief, she sobbed a “what is that”? I told her that she was feeling deep pain, loss, love, anguish, feeling what it was that makes us human and gives life meaning. Meaning is not arbitrary values given in the tally of a book, life is not binary, but deep felt emotions that saturate the marrows of our bones and colors the skies of our horizons. We may be proud about our self-consciousness, as though this were what separates us from animals, and yet this is nothing without meaning, without emotion. Even a machine can tally items into binary. A dog has a felt meaning to things around it. Which has the better existence? To be able to feel is a gift that should be cherished.
She cried more, not believing what she was hearing. Pain is not a blessing, she thought, not something to be cherished. It was anguish and anguish was to be done away with. And yet I told her that I know people who found it hard, if not impossible, to feel pain and anguish. Would that I myself could feel as she did, to cry as deeply as she did over the loss of a love.
In my imagined meeting with one of the loves of my life, whom I walked away from, I could look upon her and see her joyous face looking back at me. Such a beautiful person to sit with me, beaming her love for me as a person back at me with no demands placed upon me. She asked only to know me. And as I sit there, struggling to understand this feeling within me, the herculean effort to simply name the feeling that I might be having, I think of the image of the vastness of the empty warehouse. It feels lonely to the man only because he can remember what it once was, how it once felt, even if it is only the ghost of an echo. It is enough to make the empty warehouse feel deteriorated, cold, lonely, and empty. Contrast this with two other spaces of immense size that do not feel empty. The feeling in the warehouse isn’t one of size, but of loss.
Looking upon the face of this beautiful person, even though the meeting occurs in my mind, I am acutely aware of the sense of loss. But it is a pain and a pain is a feeling. So I will hold onto this beautiful ache and hope for more.
I wish that I could have a broken heart.