Memo # 3 ~
Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
“What we love in other human beings is the hoped-for satisfaction of our desire. We do no love their desire. If what we loved in them was their desire, then we should love them as ourself.” ~ Simone Weil
The night is still around me. Stars turn in the void. Water sounds in the gorge, and the grass sways to the rhythm of a dance lady Wind has yet to teach me. There will be enough time this semester, I think, for academic novellas on the state of mankind. This is confession. I am staring in the mirror within me and seeing snow-capped mountains — a fairy-tale escape, fictional beauty — but there is no reflection of my self. I do not see my neighbor, either, in this scene. For I have fictionalized us both. When anyone comes into my soul, meets me, do I see them? Do I see me?… Most importantly, do I see us?
When honestly put to trial, I find I have committed the callous crime of carelessness over and over and over — more times than I could count if I spent years at the task. Sometimes I pity the angel who transcribes my life ~ poor creature! That is a job I do not envy, even over living my life, and I’ll tell you why. But first let me explain how I have fictionalized myself.
I have become invisible by my silence, and I meet my irrelevance face-to-face. It comes to me that my tyranny, the power of my Executioner, is in direct proportion to the extent to which I refuse to acknowledge or witness some part of me I do not wish to be one with. Most often it is my pain and the domino results of its presence in my life to which I find I cannot reconcile myself. This makes a vacuum space into which the dark Death-dealer yawningly steps, operating a guillotine of the heart on which my imagination must utter the words ‘by myself’, like a mantra, in echo of Cincinnatus C. To preserve my capability to dream, to save my love — I will walk away with my heart in my hands, unharmed, into another world. Transported… and then I realize once again, always with this feeling like hitting a brick wall at a dead run, that I cannot. The wisdom of hopelessness is folly, and all who choose death alone choose Death indeed.
The transportation and transfiguration of the guillotine is nothing when compared with the resurrection and transfiguration of Living, Breathing, Life on this earth itself (and beyond). Christ returned to this earth in the flesh, appeared to his loved ones. I believe we can do no less with our lives, when gifted with the transformation of our beings in Him through the power of His Spirit.
Overcoming my blindness means overcoming whatever it is that avoids a straight-on look at anyone in my life — including parts of me. Empathy for myself is something I will have to learn if I intend to see myself in the mirror of my interactions, and not just my favorite escape, my handy fiction that allows me to manhandle myself and others into a dream-reality that is-Not. Empathy banishes the Executioner and leaves an option for a re-creative act of weaving those two unmatched worlds — the harsh reality and the escape — into one unbroken cloth, dedicated to embracing God.
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth–
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.`
~ R.M. Rilke
I do not envy the angel writing my life, though he escapes all my trials and pains, because I am in the unique position to dance and sing and weave thanksgivings to my God. Perhaps, like for the prophet of old, praise will bring down the walls. But I find myself asking, who will play the trumpets?
Upon some thought, I’ve realized that fiction is my trumpet. What?, you say — Yes, I say. Fiction and poetry are my song, my witness of other lives and of God’s creation for what it is to me; creative writing is the tool by which I leave my testament to the power of every aspect of His character I am blessed enough to see. These creative acts are my particular praise and expression of love to God, made possible through what He’s given me to see, feel, know, observe, hear, understand, and love on earth, in this body wracked with Pain and full of anguish.
No matter how much pain I am in, or how incompetent of a human being I end up looking to be like because of its persistent role in my life, I find God is still taking massive amounts of time to tutor me in Love and Joy, in healthy confidence and a sense of the relevance of my whole being; He is teaching me to be Whole. To be Holy. And He is teaching me to fill my life with Living things, one by one calling the dead things by name, the blind things, the careless things, and banishing them from His presence. He is teaching me the devastating physics of a vacuum in a human life, and telling me to look my neighbor in the eye. To see them for who they are, to know who they wish to be seen as, to listen to them with my whole heart, the heart of flesh He gave me, and to acknowledge the beguilingly unique mystery He shaped in each one of them as something only they can ever offer anyone. He is stretching me, making room inside me to hold His beloved children. I still don’t know any specifics, but it’s not a business meeting; I’m stretching out my arms to gather in as many of the little children looking out from behind the curtains of adult bodies as this single broken body can manage to hold.
i walk, breathe,
live & move
enshrouded by mystery;
the glorious unknown
in every being i see
motes of stardust
shaped my unseen hands
Light in my soul.
all text c. Mary Kathryn Gough (maiden, huffman), 9/28/05