Tuesday, August 26, 2008


There are so many things I’d like to say. So many things. But finding the words to say them is hard work, and I’ve been on a work-avoiding binge lately. And so I’m staring down this blank page with all the writer’s courage I can muster. I stare. And stare. And stare some more. I feel very courageous indeed, but still, the page remains blank. It isn’t that my mind remains blank -- oh no, not at all! In fact, my mind is full of thoughts. Happy thoughts and sad thoughts. Angry thoughts and ugly thoughts and amusing thoughts. But mostly beautiful thoughts. Thoughts I need to share. Thoughts scurrying around in my mind like little worker ants building huge elaborate tunnels out of grains of synapses and piling them high, high, high up and out of reach where the cruel foot of reality doesn’t tread.

So many things I’d like to share; so many things I need to say. But the words... the words are not there. Painfully absent. Gone. Blown away by an imaginary wind into an imaginary sea. I check other blogs; maybe I’ll find the words I’m looking for there. They aren’t there. I check my own blog; perhaps there’s a new post up. A post I haven’t written and haven’t published, but a post that I know exists nevertheless. But no, it isn’t on my blog either. It’s been hours now. In the past, it’s been days. Months, years, decades even. So many things to share, no words to share them.

Maybe poetry. Poetry is the language of the soul. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but do you understand what it means? Poetry is a language when no other language will suffice. When you lack the words to say what you feel and instead try to make others feel what you say. But poetry is made out of words, and the words are... gone. I try two black coffees; no sugar, no milk, no taste. Just coffee. But the words don’t come. The thoughts do -- of course they do. Piling up against the fire-exit in a great stampede of jumbled color and shape. Trying desperately to get out, they remain locked in. Locked in and cruelly crushed by the endless stream of consciousness behind them, struggling, fighting to get to the same exit only to be locked in by the same steel bolt forged in a hellish place with no words.

Hellish? That’s a word. But it wasn’t the one I was looking for; it won’t do. I’d know hell if I see it -- I haven’t seen it. I look out the window; what a gorgeous day. Big chunky snow-white clouds in a clear blue sky. A cool strong breeze bows the branches of the trees all in the same direction, as if they’re trying to prostrate themselves in a beautiful temple to a beautiful goddess but can’t quite bring themselves to touch the floor. Is Mother Earth the temple, or is Mother Earth the goddess? Maybe both. Now the trees are vigorously waving their leaves -- red, green, full of life, full of promise, full of hope -- at... what? At a passing bird! The bird swoops low over the trees and dances in the breeze to admire the view. I don’t know what kind of bird it is: a pigeon? A seagull? It must appreciate the magnificent beauty of it all. It would surely share its thoughts with us, if only it could. But it can’t; it lacks the words. I know how it feels.

The breeze has blown the edges of the clouds into thin wisps of funky shapes. This one looks like the s-shaped neck of a swan -- a big, white, striking, sky-bound swan. It’s craning its neck to try and see something far away over the horizon, where the angels sing while they tend the young growing rainbows in the rainbow garden. Yes, yes, that’s a needless flight of fancy. Needless: we don’t need it. The universe is full of sublime beauty and transcendent joy, man made and nature made, mysterious and explicable, if only we care to find it and appreciate it. And share it. So many things to share, so many things to say, no words to say it with.

Sublime and transcendent -- those are words. Words I can use. Words I should remember. But do you understand what I mean by those words? Look at these magnificent buildings, with huge classical columns and victorian windows. Awe-inspiring splendor, designed and built by men and women like you and me. Here, let’s stand in the spray and feel the wind in our hair. Do you feel the salty taste of the misty breeze? Do you ever wonder what makes the ocean salty? Why sodium and chloride remain abundant in our seas today while calcite precipitated out and formed limestone, which combined with silica forms the brilliant white sands we are standing on? Isn’t that fascinating? Look at the cliffs above us; do you understand the process of erosion that conspired to create them just so, so imposing and majestic, jagged and foreboding, so inviting yet impossible to climb?

Look at the flaming red sun now sinking below the horizon. Nuclear fusion is blasting us with more energy than we can use. Imagine that! How incredibly powerful the process of fusing hydrogen to form helium. And it sustains all life around us, the people, the animals, the plants! And the people, what magnificent creatures! The sublime (there’s that word again) and incomprehensible beauty of the human form: the subtle and exquisite curves of the female body; the y-shaped crease that forms between her thighs and stomach when she folds one leg over the other just so; the way her hair falls over her shoulders protectively as if to cover the small blemishes on her skin; the well-muscled back and shoulders of the male athlete; the smooth dent where his biceps meets the triceps; the set jaw just before the jump. No two are alike! Has any sculptor ever created something more beautiful than the human form?

And then the human mind -- what a magnificent machine. Newton and Leibniz and the fundamental theorem of calculus -- how simple and powerful and beautiful! Amazing complexity made simple by some mathematical tricks, all done by this small mushy machine in our heads. Has any computer programmer ever created something more remarkable than this?

Which reminds me: I have many things to finish. I don’t have time to write this, especially not without the words I need. My desk is piled high, my to-do list is getting longer by the moment. Fuck this; why do I work with these dumb machines, unable to understand or appreciate what I do for them, unable to commiserate with my frustrations, unable to understand what I feel, unable to laugh at my jokes, unable to do anything but able to do it fast? In the process I’ve turned into a robot myself. I’d rather share some thoughts. But how to do that without words? Do you have any ideas?

Why are you reading this? Yes, I’m talking to you. You! You ARE reading this, are you not? Do you feel joy, sadness, anger, amusement, merriness, grief, glee, pleasure? Please, do share! I’m interested in what you have to say. No, I do not care what you look like or what you wear or how smart you think you are not. Most people don’t. If they think about you at all (and not about the appointment they are about to miss or the fight they had this morning) they wonder what you think of them. Isn’t that hilarious? So many people are preoccupied with what others think of them, when really what others think of them is mostly ‘I wonder what s/he thinks of me’. It’s the great cosmic joke.

Anyway, what I am interested in is what you have to say. Did you want to read something about my duplicitous life, about the Hasidic culture I live in but don’t live? Sorry, I find that topic boring. I do not care about all that -- really, I do not. Did you want to read something funny or amusing? I’d love to make you laugh you know. Oh yeah, I would. And I can. I can make you laugh and I can make a pretty girl smile. But this post is about some other thoughts, some thoughts I’d like to express, things I’d like to say, but don’t have the words to say them.

And so the sun sets and the stars come out. Did you know that Alpha Centauri, the closest star to our solar system, is almost 4.5 light years away? Light years. Think about that for a moment. Let’s go to a quiet corner and contemplate that. Can you imagine? And look at all the magnificent and dazzling stars, the quiet sound of the ocean, the song of the night. Is it not beautiful? Look at the tear rolling down my face. Don’t you worry, it isn’t a tear of sadness. It is in lieu of words, words I can’t find, words that escape me, words I imagine went to live with the angels in their rainbow garden. Do you know why tears are tear-shaped? It is because of surface tension and hydrogen bonding. Fascinating, is it not? The universe is full of mesmerizing stuff like that.

See, the universe is full of sublime (there’s that word again!) beauty and transcendent joy just waiting to be experienced. Do you want to experience it with me? Look me in the eye; can you experience my thoughts? Because I want to share, but can’t find the words. You cannot experience them you say? That’s alright -- I’ll go have another coffee.