Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Eliot is student of the week in his kindergarten class this week and I am trying unsuccessfully to put together a picture poster-board of his life for him to showcase before his classmates. I'm running into trouble because I have not put a single photograph of Eliot in a photo album.

I fell asleep seven years ago and I am not awake yet. I want to wake; I do. But waking images are sharp and cold and as vivid as the smell of rain in June. I am afraid. I will finally admit that I am afraid.

It has become easy for me to concede depression or angst; these adorn me like well worn clothes. But fear...

This afternoon as I flipped through jackets of long-abandoned pictures, I saw pieces of me and people I know or used to know, people I love or used to love.

Eliot is my favorite child because I have wronged him most. I was sleeping soundly when he was born and he withered away at my grudging breast. I roused enough to warm a bottle but then I slipped away again.

I came back when I had learned to sleep walk, and Eliot did not know me. He kept staring at me with a tentative grin. I didn't know him, either. I couldn't read what was behind his eyes.

Fear... I can tell you I'm afraid to fail; that keeps me and everybody else from expecting too much of me.

But really I am afraid of beauty.


Roo said...

Why do we fear beauty?

Roo said...

Thank you

Rachael said...

you're welcome. Did I answer the question fully enough? How would you have answered it?

Roo said...

Life is strange. I asked a question with five words, and I got an answer with six hundred and one.

In an appendix to 'Awakenings' by Oliver Sacks he talks about 'Parkinsonian Space and Time'. He explains how someone with Parkinson's disease can have a distorted sense of space and time. As a demonstration for a group of students he asked a patient to clap in time for a short period. He then asked his students if they thought his timing was regular. 'Of course not!' replied one, who proceeded to mimic the patient. The book goes on:

'At this point, Mr E. leaps to his feet in indignation: 'What do you mean?' he cries to the student. 'What do you mean by saying my movements got faster and smaller - in that crazy way you did it yourself? My movements were perfectly regular and stable - like this!' And concentrating fiercely, totally absorbed in his own activity, he falls once again into the grossest festination.'

I bring this up as I think the fear of beauty can be like this. The concern that you will be overheard, and thought to be out of sync.

But turning to face the other way, there is the change in space and time that beauty demands of us:

'The new light imposes change,
Re-adjusts all a life landscape as it thrusts down its probe from the sky,
To create shadows, to reveal waters, to erect hills and deepen glens.
The slant alters. I can't see the old contours. It's a larger world
Than I once thought it.'

I started with your six hundred and one words to my five as I see four parallels. One is to do with minds with neurological illness. One is to do with fear of entering a world different to the one we know. One is to with an answer that took me by surprise by it's honesty and power. One is to do with the walk from your house to your garage.

Rachael said...

Andrew: Thank you, again. This "out of sync" feeling I have often. Always have, actually. Not just regarding "incongruity with beauty", but in social ways, as well. It's always funny and a little embarrassing to me that I am so honest in my writing, because I might have to be tortured in a live conversation before I would confess the things I do, here.

It's funny, too, that my seven-word final sentence held within it six hundred and one. I was trying to get away with saying something really deep without going into any depth. I'm glad you asked the question "why?", because I have long sensed all of this about beauty, but never articulated it.

And I've not forgotten your email, I'm working on a reply. ;)