23 January 2013

The Impossibility of the Moment

"Angel came down from heaven yesterday 
stayed with me long enough to rescue me 
And she told me a story yesterday 
about the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea 
Then she spread her wings high over me 
she said she's goin' now, come back tomorrow 
And I said, "Fly on my sweet angel, fly on through the sky 
Fly on my sweet angel tomorrow I'm gonna be by your side" 

-From Angel as sung by Rod Stewart and Jimi Hendrix

I have looked into her face and seen love.

When the anger came and our words were thrown with wild abandon and some of them stuck and we felt our bodies grow rigid and hard and mean. When our tempers slipped and fell and slid across the floor and a little of our dignity went with it. Those ugly moments resonated for days with tinctures of shame and residues of resentment and shared pain. But faded at last. On to what is what we are and the wonderful sense of eternity that true love provides and the wisdom and truth of it all. Back in our arms as we were are physically and bless us. Again

An addict is a person who convinces himself (or herself -- of course) that a moment of pleasure can be repeated and enriched and made to enrapture for hours and days on end. That magic glow of the newborn high will and can and then must endure and we will know bliss as it gets better and better and better. But then it starts eating us alive. Nothing. Not even the perfection of a child's sincere smile. Is anything but temporal. It all goes and goes and we wonder at the brevity of our joy. The addict recovers  by recognizing that each moment is its own.

Denial of reality. There is a game we play in which we pretend that certain things never did don't now nor ever will happen. We are not that ugly part of us. There is none of those uncomfortable realities that we dare not face. Go away pain. Let me subsume myself in false warm glows as if real radiance came from a heat lamp. Nothing. The void is in a closet behind boxes of memories and can be kept there. All around the shallow mind there are reminders of loss and tragedy and hurt. These only need be glimpsed at and acknowledged. Fight the ones you can. Accept the others.

Joy. So often it is found by finding and excepting who we are. The finding out can be hard but the acceptance....rewarding illuminating enlightening and ultimately fulfilling.

I find the crispness of Hemingway's writing those short declarative wonderfully simple sentences so moving. Finding simplicity is complex in our world and yet a great thrilling reward of soaring heights and dizzy nights and dazzling lights. He makes it look easy. People say. Describing maybe Willie Mays or Charlie Chaplin or Rodin.

I enjoyed last weekend a film called Make Way For Tomorrow (1937) directed by Leo McCarey. It was an inspiration for Ozu's classic Tokyo Story (1953). An old couple (Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore) must give up their home and are thus shuffled among their five now middle aged children. The children and their spouses range from sympathetic to totally put out. We get old we get annoying. We get old we get wise. We get old we get in the way. We get out we get useless. We get interesting we get dull we get. Get. It seems a depressing story but like any illumination of life it is not. Especially given McCarey's deft hand and wonderful performances. There is a wisdom and a certain beauty to this story because it steers away from maudlin sentimentality. It is piquant and kind and truthful and gentle. Mostly it wasn't trying too hard. Here is a horrible flaw in so many films: taking the simple and making a meal out of it. Some stories call out for whistles and bells and doo dads used appropriately. But others need the makers to back away and trust in the characters and the script. McCarey did that here. Just as Ozu did.

Meanwhile in the news there are guns and there is anger and there is slaughter and there is ignorance and there is hope. Always hope for those incremental changes that push us toward much much better days. We will leap ahead another two steps and take most of those steps back. But not all. Feel better.

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