February 06, 2006

In the World, At Home

The rain. It brings so many things back to life, both physical and mental. Buds on skinny, weather-beaten tree limbs, grass from damp soil, worms unearthed from that same soil, birds anxiously hopping along the wet earth, heads cocked as their eyes raze the damp grass for some grub. Later in spring, the birds sing early in the morning. Sometimes I am lucky to hear their songs. A nexus of memories accrued over years, then stored in a room of the mind's mansion that is seldom used, returns to the surface of consciousness, the veritable "living room." I inhabit this space for a moment, as though I were granted only a momentary glimpse at this--a token has granted me a five seconds' view of something vital and everlasting.

I was fascinated by a line at the end of Mishima's The Decay of the Angel in which he calls memory a "phantom mirror." It makes things that are far away seem close, things that are too far away to see appear in front of you. As I walked outside my school today, drained again by the comatose sensation of sitting and reading at my desk in the staffroom, the guilt of deferring my future to another day, and reading a book that is beautiful and provocative (already I presage the small, subtle grief I will feel when I finish the book and must move on), I confronted the song of the rain--an inimitable rhythm and melody, not just of sounds, but sights, smells, textures, even thoughts and words; yes time too has its share in the rain. I crossed the street, made it up the stairway to Brazilian Coffee (local coffeehouse), and suddenly, before I entered the cafe, was stopped in my step by a eviscerating sense of my past--of a place I once was, let's call it home, and a person I once was, let's call him someone who resembles me now, and of a time that once was, we can only call it the past. Standing there in the drizzle, caught at a standstill with my life in front of me, behind me, all around me, and in me, I continued into the coffeehouse, drank coffee and continued reading Haruki Murakami's Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

The coffee was good. The book is better. This morning I thought about what job to pursue. Many lead to the same non-life, avoiding which is a very thorny matter. It is a "life" of 9-5 in an office, evenings at home in front of a television with a beer. Sleep and the next day. Already I have caught glimpses of it here, even though my experiences in Japan have been profoundly different on a qualitative level. There is the decisive element of inconsistency in this experience, of everything having never been done or seen before. This rawness, an experience of just coming into a world, is in many ways a mirror image, if it is only reflected in that 'phantom mirror,' of when one first came into the world. In many ways, the mirror also reflects the other end of ourselves. So, as a shadow looms over me--the decision that I will be forced by necessity to make in the upcoming months--I check to see if my shadow is there. I must say with extreme gratitude that I have not yet lost my shadow nor my mind.


Post a Comment

<< Home