Friday, November 4, 2011

Watching The Moon

Watching the moon
at dawn,
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely:
no part left out.

- Izumi Shikibu, 974-1034

* * *

It is told (who can know for sure, such stories we are willing to accept!) that Izumi Shikibu, a Lady at the Kyoto Court, had numerous affairs, marriages and wrote with such passion in her poetry she became known as The Floating Lady.

* * *

Each morning in the autumn, when I let my dog out at 4:30 in the blessed AM, I look up and to my left, and there, regular as the clockwork he is, rests Orion - floating just above my house. This morning was a fine, clear, dark morning and the sky was littered with stars, but Orion is the one I know and take great comfort in its arrival.

My father tried to teach me about the stars, to be able to recognize the constellations and so know where I was in the world. I could only master the obvious: Orion. After his death, I placed my father's spirit there: sky-born, forever the pilot he once was. I mention this because I only know Orion just before dawn and it is in the darkness of the hour before dawn that steadies me, that I know myself completely, no part left out.

* * *

For each and every last one of us on this whore of an island, an island in God's sea, is tasked with using the fact that we live to find out who we are to become - completely, no part left out. This is the great call of Life to our lives: who the fuck are you?

Are you listening?
Do you not yet know Life is without meaning?
You bring the meaning to it.
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe to it.
Being alive is the meaning.

But we fuck it up, don't we? We want pat answers and sure things and so we compromise who we are, who we could yet be, in order to fit in, be made useful, smoothed into our niche; we accept the institutional, organized rules because it is easier to go along than to fight the system. Such foolish fears we have! As if by dulling ourselves down, stripping away what is unique, irreplaceable in us, becoming a consumer only (never a creator) death will somehow spare us, will take pity on us because we played by the fucking rules. Ha! You're a dead man walking, brother. Now what are you going to do about it?

I dare you to live.
I dare you to carve meaning out of time.
I dare you to wake the motherfuck up.

I triple dog dare you.

* * *

Izumi Shikibu paired off with numerous men at court: married men, princes. She even married a few herself. She wrote:

My black hair is unkempt; 
he lies down and first gently smooths it, 
my darling!

This intimacy between lovers is, I pray, universal. It contains passions best imagined off-stage. And it is passion that drives The Floating Lady; passion that earns her the scorn and opprobrium of the court, her society; passion that saves her for watching the moon at dawn, solitary, mid-sky she knew herself completely, no part left out.

We are not here to become better people; we are here to become complete, no part left out. If you live without passion - for someone, for a cause other than yourself, for your work, your time - you are already dead. Izumi scandalized her peers and they are both dead over a thousand years. Who lived before they died? The one who knew herself completely. You needn't take on numerous affairs in order to be alive, but you do need to live by whatever passion or desire stirs in you.

* * *

In the days before my father's death he said he was content with the way things worked out because he'd flown, a farmboy turned into a pilot, and that was all, that was all, that was everything to him.

* * *

The hour before dawn.



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