Before and Afterwards

xmas smoke and fire

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“No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

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There is a red bull can which keeps appearing at the threshold between the road and the driveway of my new home.

The first time this happened, I thought nothing of it as there was little to think about.

It wasn’t a puzzle which needed solving.

People throw stuff out of their car windows when they’re done with it… to keep their car, their mobile home, clean and tidy, free of the wreckage of everyday life – this mess is someone else’s problem now.

The wind blows human detritus around, as though rearranging the decor of the landscape… this empty can would look better here on the tarmac rather than in the grass, that plastic bag needs to hang from a tree branch, that… wtf is that thing? Never mind what it is, I’ll place it in this puddle to give tiny creatures and island to rest upon during their crossing… if you have an issue with it, the wind doesn’t mind because it has moved on, if you mind then find a way to move things along from there, become your own wind.

So,

I simply picked it up and put it in the recycling bin.

End of story.

The second time this happened… is this morning.

I looked out of the window and my eye swooped down on the can like a bird of prey and squawked. The squawk was surprise rather than annoyance. If it had been a different brand I probably would not have noticed it, mainly because I’d only just woken up and my eyes were still sleepy. But because it was the same brand, it stood out…

It must be a coincidence… that’s the most logical way to view it, however… I’m not always logical of view.

The mind has to contend with the other parts which make up our whole and… there are ghosts within us which are made of the smoke and fire of the past.

For some reason that can opened a can of fear worms for me…

red bull… gives you wings and it certainly did that for the ghosts which haunt me, which swirl inside waiting for a moment when the light makes them visible in the darkness.

For a moment I was standing at the centre of a host of dancing spirits singing in a deep moan of times past…

perhaps because it is that time of the month… of that time of the year…

The festivities of Christmas are over, giving way to a lull… just before the slightly hysterical happiness of New Year.

This time… when I was a child… was…

some families really should not feel obliged to spend time together…

every year Christmas was a claustrophobic celebration of climaxing chaos.

The period ended with a final bang just after the seemingly controlled explosions of New Year…

like the seemingly controlled explosions in this deeply human film…

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my birthday happened to fall…

and I fell with it…

on the threshold between the holidays and when they’re supposed to finally come to an end…

on that spot where fantasy meets reality…

on that thorn between roots and roses…

that’s rather fanciful… a dark kind of fancy with a sprinkling of light from a sparkler… or from solving problems by burning them with fire.

Maybe that explains things…

such as why this painting appealed to my ghostly heart so much when the eyes of my child self saw it…

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DelarocheLadyJaneGrey

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche

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and afterwards,

when my adult eyes beheld these words…

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“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

(from Go to the Limits of Your Longing)

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the two came together,

for me,

and are forever linked…

as the before is forever tied to the afterwards…

however many thresholds we cross between then and now, there and here.

Faith, to me, is…

just about being able to catch myself when I fall and not get squashed to death by the heaviness of it…

like an empty can run over by a car tyre…

it’s still a can… it’s just not sure about its status…

that kind of faith has fluctuated over the years…

but I’m still here…

a different can, but still a can…

or something like that.

This mess is mine…

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