To Light a Lamp

“Think what a mean and wretched place this world is; that half the time we have to light a lamp that we may see to live in it. This is half of our life. Who would undertake the enterprise if it were all? And, pray, what more has day to offer?”

Scanning the skyline: telephone wires strung like untuned piano wire over the wireless american graveyard; power lines hum cancerous emissions into the worldtoil;, and there, obstructing the south view entirely, a building with a neon sign inviting us to hospitality for a fee. Flowing through all, the artery of an unmindful river with its invisible pulse guiding the triumph of waters to a larger matter entirely.
The gnarl and twist of trees, some newly-sprung from the tired earth drained of its resources, others standing taller than the rest, leaf-bared leaning over ethereal watery air, and beneath a subterranean world unmindful of our self-spun hell. We see only that which matters most. Where one sees heaven, others draw profit, promising heaven in a bottle.

What more has day to offer? In a French bakery patrons collect at tables, not like Europeans sharing their space with strangers, but remain insular, isolated, drawing back from their impulses, recoiling as if agents of suspicion, almost microbial in their behavior reacting to light and heat. A light flickers over a gathering of white inconsolate faces mouthing vowels and consonants through squirming wormlips. What insolence they fume! What wisdom spouted! I envy their light hearts.

Nearby, a small bookcase with periodic offerings; $5.00 books from a local library. Occasionally, we find art books. Most times it’s self-help. As a writer I’m asked, because some have had the idea to ask of me, why don’t I write self-help books? Why, indeed? The self-help I’d most be in aid of has yet to be written, and so I turn to Walden, or a book of its ilk for wisdom of a universal matter. On the book shelf they materialize, having been given away, I presume, from those that either obtained the help they sought, or by reading it, felt more helpless than before.

The help I seek it is l’aurora in its nature. A new awakening, perhaps, flooding its glorious hour of serendipity causing me to bend a knee in kind obedience to the invisible benefactor. This is a self-help book I’d open gladly to consume its spoon-fed wisdom in eager mouthfuls. But there it’s not; instead we’re shown how to count calories, conquer depression or increase money four-fold as a wellspring of happiness. There’s more to benefit from coffee table art books. Lessons in humility, of objects in art, art in objects, light in darkness, in darkness, light.

We rise from silence and return to silence. What lies between is but an ocean of noise symbiotic to nothing.

Existence clashes with purpose, if purpose there be. Throughout there are those rising above the fray, crushed by wheels of regression. Ever bent on their resolve, resigned to an underclass spent on fortifying blind charities. One would be better suited appreciating simpler things. Or not.

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