The changing of the seasons offers a sympathetic transition from the natural world, a sudden blossoming of our surroundings to awaken the dormant potential within us. It is the inner child who always loved watching the lizards bask in the first warm rays of sun, the fierce independence which grew from a desperate and unmet need for companionship. Wildflowers dance in rhythmic unison, swaying and bobbing in the breeze, for a few short weeks rendering the landscape as shockingly different as a blanket of snow might. The scene tickles some inner piece of the brain in a way that few other things do, plays out a backseat scene filled with yearning and acceptance, comes into clearer focus some twenty years later when everything finally falls apart exactly according to the script.
It is springtime in Texas, again. A year later, a full year of pandemic, multiple moves, successes, failures, immeasurable losses piled high. I am standing knee-deep in the same river, though the water molecules are all new. So are all of my cells. The woodpeckers in the still-bare trees peck out a certain rhythm that works with the melody of the breeze, the orchestra of the afternoon settles into my dehydrated mind. A deer skull lies in the tall grass, an eerie synchronicity with one of the only dispatches I’ve seen from a person I wish would write me back. What does it mean, that we both found a pair of shed antlers while out healing from the wounds we’ve gouged into one another, because of the wounds that have been gouged into us? It feels spiritual, but long ago that part of my spirit was melted down and folded into a mold like some heartland appetizer. To find your salvation in the pantheistic natural world is heretical; you must view nature as your dominion and interpret the Only Text with an unblinking view that leaves little room to wonder if maybe somebody highlighted all the wrong parts. And so, even if you are born speaking the language of bones and dust, you will be forced to forget it. I rub the sun-bleached skull and feel the ancestral connection to those antlers a thousand miles away, to their finder and keeper, to a divine stream that still flows through this barren world. I want to sip from it like a deer, and I feel the intimate vulnerability of ducking my head to the water in a world that watches hawkishly for weakness. I want my joys to be total, my thirsts quenchable, my fears primal. Compounding interest and the calculated torments of the internet make a hungry wolf sound downright friendly.
Sometimes people read words and want to see specifics, want to know the page is talking about them, want to connect gossipy dots between an eternal heartbreak and a photo posted a year ago. They look at the text on Sunday and want something black and white to carry them through the week while they backslide, so by the time they get there next week there is a very finite list of things to apologize for. This yo-yo of deed and repentance marked on a calendar robs us of the ability to ever feel truly lost in the art of living. We are not the center of the universe, and it is only by knowing this that we can find True North.
We look at what’s written and take what we want from it, nothing more. This is a certain selfish lack of curiosity, which has been taught to us by a society that is built upon obedience and order, which says things from outside are dirty and that nothing subhuman is sacred because we rely on exploitation for profit. We could be connected by the antlers, we might have been able to make things work, but the part of us which needed nurturing all those years ago was squeezed through a collared shirt and an education system shaped funnel until we were rendered fit for this most unnatural world we have created. Now we are telling stories, but they are not the ones we want to tell.