Friday, September 10, 2010

Our saving energy - An Excerpt

When the woman that he thought he loved got married, he felt the wrenching within him. He dreamed obsessively of her in that white dress of tradition, the traditional smile and sweaty palms, the excitement barely contained within the confines of the bodies eager for their new lives. She was tan, with her long brown hair carefully coiffed for the occasion, and her favorite ginger and orange-colored lipstick was in and out of her bag. What did that mean to him, when she got married? She seemed happy, her new man seemed nice, solid. He did not want to acknowledge that holding on to her in his mind was a way of keeping himself a little boy, an adolescent who doesn’t want to give up or share his toys, of changing that image of her in his mind, from “his” to being her own beautiful self in full flight, smiling as she skimmed her own ocean of memories, making them more beautiful in her happiness.

What did this thinking make him, but a little boy who didn’t want to grow up? War had shaped his mind, now. He was trying to learn beyond this, to remember his love of some of the learning in school, the excitement he felt in science some days, when the experiments went just the way he thought they would and he found a new way to understand a relationship of chemical dynamics. Girls, women were the same. He was the same, but he was struggling to understand this. Little by little he was learning to guide his mind into accepting this chemical way of thinking of everything. His old girlfriends especially gave him a starting point, because they had been his salvation when he came back from the war, with the star bursts in his brain that flashed to reveal not the tenderness of faces so much as the heat and grit and blood and the smell of fear. He craved the flesh, the touch, the taste of skin he loved, bathed in the smell of rose soap, or the fresh cotton scent of soft sheets. These were not “love,” he knew, but his way of thinking of them was only slowly opening itself to the panorama of memories which went beyond his wartime, his adolescence as a boy bursting with the sexual hormones which dictated his life.

He was slowly beginning to see how the energy of war slows our mind down, creates a drag like a quicksand. When his body was on alert, active to that point of everything being focused into a white-hot point of survival or die, he felt fully alive – yet he knew that was a primal sense, not the sense of Michelangelo coming through that creation of David. Why make war? Smelling blood was primal, throwing up when seeing flesh torn and dried, bones broken like sticks, faces afraid, was a way of remembering what it is to be animals, vulnerable as humans.

We are on our own. Yet never alone.

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