Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sketches of a Dream: A Free-Write from the Past

Cinderella and Prince Charming. The slaveholders exploit every opportunity available to spread the institution, proliferate its victims, prolong its perniciousness, protract its duration. Laughing, dancing in the limelight. Yet no one sees them. They promenade alone. They are invisible. An illusion. Unreal. Tis all a dream. Pathos fills the open air, emptiness pervades, lingering hope evaporates. Tis not meant to be, dreams are for others. Life is meaningless: Ecclesiastes spoke the truth. Reality sets in, another day of hard labor ahead, the fantasy a mere placebo, temporary and fleeting, ephemeral, evanescent. Not for the feeble, the weary, the weak, the downtrodden, the brokenhearted is escape, rest, joy, happiness, peace...of mind, of comfort, of love. Dreams are meant for sleeping. The cynicism, the nihilism, the doubt, the unbelief that inevitably accompanies crushed hopes, broken dreams, lost causes, defeated will, dead souls manifests itself through inanition, grief, angst, agony, estrangement, confusion, inquisition eventually breeding anger, indignation, a desire for confrontation, vengeance, repudiation, restitution, reparation, equality, egalitarianism, finally succumbing to disconsolation, forlornness, solitude. Contemplation provides no solace, clockwork silence no closure. Absence of realization, epiphany, redemption, solidarity, consolation, absolution. Chivalry, morality nowhere to be found, dead, leaving the town lifeless, without vitality, diversity, energy...potential or kinetic. "The three men I admire most, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, they took the last train for the coast...the day the music died." All ignorance toboggans into know and back to ignorance again. Social, economic, political acceptance, civil rights, equality, liberty and justice for all. False pledges, blank promissory notes and checks, hollow promises, meaningless, unfruitful branches on trees cast into the fire like a spider held over the pit, trembling in the presence of His raging wrath. It goes on and on and on, unrelenting, neverending, indefatigable. A seemingly, no indefinitely, impregnable pass, a dead end. Why not a torpedo of doom or a literal fork in the road? A last chance, perhaps? One final, desperate, life dependent attempt to make life what you want and not merely what is parceled out randomly, without regard for effort, endurance, perseverance, silent suffering, humble patience, devout servitude, unconditional gratitude, heart. Just when the oppression intolerable, the hypocrisy unbearable, the adversity unsurvivable, the tears streaming hopelessly, uncontrollably, flooding every river and stream, ebbing with a desperate plea of divine passion, knowledge, wisdom concerning humanity...and then, sudden silence. One begins thinking, "This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whisper." Waiting, wishing, though for what one is uncertain...after an interminable hush, one recognizes the vital signs still operating, the heart still beating, the limbs and communication facilities still functioning, the outside environment still very much intact. The heart saved, the burden relieved, the struggle overcome as forecasted with odd prescience that it would be someday long time ago.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Art of...

The art of dancing in the rain, the art of war, the art of eating an Oreo cookie, the art of losing myself, the art of problem solving, the art of mending, the art of non-conformity, the art of innovation, the art of imagination, the art of possibility, the art of the photogravure, the art of farming, the art of chess, the art of strategy, the art of the prank, the art of modern mythmaking, the art of caricaturing, the art of driving, the art of storytelling, the art of botanical illustration, the art of computer programming, the art of medicine, the art of tea, the art of shredding, the art of Arabic calligraphy, the art of Asia, the art of Ancient Egypt, the art of the start, the art of questioning, the art of debate, the art of fugue, the art of rock n' roll, the art of motorcycle maintenance, the art of blogging, the art of writing, the art of slow reading, the art of conversation, the art of information, the art of failure, the art of discontent, the art of learning, the art of henna, the art of the Renaissance, the art of courtly love, the art of strength, the art of presenting, the art of memory, the art of translation, the art of illusion, the art of noises, the art of rhetoric, the art of sound, the art of sense, the art of travel, the art of worldly wisdom, the art of peace, the art of leadership, the art of making a difference, the art of changing the world, the art of choosing, the art of living, the art of action.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Doctor, Write Thyself

I recently read an article by J. Rentilly that began with the opening lines: "IT IS SAID THAT THE PEN is mightier than the sword. The larger question, raised by a long, illustrious line of physician-authors, including Anton Checkov, W. Somerset Maugham, and Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone, may be, is the pen also mightier than the stethoscope?" Verghese expounds, "I think the foremost connection between being a doctor and being a writer is the great privilege of having an intimate view of one's fellow humans, the privilege of being there and helping other people at their most vulnerable moments." His words could not more aptly express my own views regarding the benefits of the synthesis of different fields. I've often come to the conclusion that I was born in the wrong era, that I should have been a Renaissance man like Da Vinci, for I shudder at the thought of having to choose one field, one area of study to pursue. Rather, I liken my mind to a sponge, absorbing all the wonderful knowledge that is to be gained, all the while trying to evade the tragic fate of Faust or Victor Frankenstein. My passion has always been to read, to write, to analyze, to explore, to learn, to grow, to make a difference through my efforts. I desire to join Doctors Without Borders and administer medical aid in third-world countries. One student once wrote, "I should be a writer, but I will be a doctor, and out of the philosophical tension I will create a self." Complexity makes people interesting, just as struggles make people interesting, for adversity gives rise to what Sharon Creech calls "bloomability." I feel that the practice of medicine allows one to grow closer to his fellow brethren, allows him to fulfill the prophetic words of Countee Cullen: "Your grief and mine/Must intertwine/Like sea and river/Be fused and mingle/Diverse yet single/Forever and forever." Leadership fails to recognize this universality, this collective unconscious, this sum of experiences that unites humanity. The mediums, the materials, the roads are infinite, stretching on interminably until they disappear into the horizon. "Do not rush," advises the orchestra conductor. "A ritardando is like a yellow traffic light. When people see one, they try to rush right through it..." Take one step at a time; there is no need to rush. Savor the moment for all it is worth. Slow down..."Rushing and racing and running in circles, moving so fast, I'm forgetting my purpose, blur of the traffic is sending me spinning, getting head and my heart are colliding, chaotic, pace of the world, I just wish I could stop it..sometimes I fear that I might disappear in the blur of fast forward..." "SIMPLIFY! SIMPLIFY!" cries Thoreau. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it." A voice in the night whispers, “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime. And, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.” Legacy n. something that remains from a previous generation or time. "The powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse." Classic n. something created or made, especially a work of art, music, or literature, that is generally considered to be of the highest value and of enduring value; a piece or work that stands the test of time. In the quest for originality, creativity, innovation, inspiration, imagination obstacles consistently creep up. Solomon relates his nihilistic revelation that there is nothing new under the sun. Attempting to capture all experience, all existence, all consciousness, all being, all life and fuse them into one coherent theory of everything proves to be a gedankenexperiment. Trite, hackneyed, overdone, cliché...not to mention completely and utterly ludicrous, chimerical, impossible. Interminable internal struggle...“How I wish I were not a muggle!”

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."