Perspectives

The Wall: From wherever you sit or stand, face a wall. That wall is now down, indicating bottom. You have changed your orientation by ninety degrees.

Say we are on a bustling street in some major city, perhaps New York, and the street continues for a couple of blocks to the facade of a great hotel. You stand on the street as if you are standing on a wall, and the hotel defines bottom. Take a step, tentatively at first, if you must. The street teems ahead of you, Jack striding down the beanstalk; buses crawl like caterpillars and the taxis are nervous yellow aphids. You might fear you’ll fall and crash through the hotel lobby doors in a rain of shards and concierges. The sky blue condensates with clouds the space ahead, and it is as if you are in a tube, or on the side of a cube.

You take another step, and soon you are confidently walking down the wall street, falling through the flood of pedestrians that surge upwards past you. The spirit grasps you and you start running, becoming exhilarated when the world exists only on the soles of your feet and the inexorable accretion in your field of vision. The door man swings the glass doors open in a glittering arc with a smile and a Welcome! as you plunge through.

A Bowl of Water: A pond. Find any pond. Smaller is best, at first. Lakes are all right. Oceans are cathedrals. But for now, a pond. See. It’s a pool of water that collects in a dip of earth. (Next time you go splashing in the rain, take heed where your carefree steps displaces the water. Just a thought: the Great Lakes after God decided to wash his feet in the Atlantic).

Leap into the pond. Splash about, revel in the sensation of being given slack from the reign of Gravity. Now, swim. Surge into the water, try to touch bottom. Only it isn’t bottom you’re trying to reach; you’re Icarus, trying to touch the sun. Up, up, up through cool brown reaches. Plunge your hand in smooth mud and you’ve touched the roof of the world. You, at the very vertex of a bowl that brims with a thin atmosphere that protects it from the sucking emptiness of space. Lake: ascend through the blue waters to grasp the pebble that floats on the dome above, like a balloon trying to attain escape velocity against a ceiling. The ocean: sea green awash on white sand to rocky flats that give way to terraced cliffs that fade into a darkness more unfathomable than the cosmos; swim deep enough and you drift in the void, under the cathedral of the world as strange creatures ply the currents that carry you.

Footsteps: Close your eyes in a draftless room. Preferably large. Move not a muscle. What do you feel? The floor pressing against you, nothing else. Stay. Wait. Tell yourself that there is nothing else in the world but the thing that presses against your soles like a pair of poles stretching into infinity. Take a misstep and it’s like falling to China, but plumb forever. Is it real to you yet? The danger? Starvation before you even hit bottom. Now take another step. Don’t be afraid. You will fall upon one of those poles. They appear under your feet magically, but hold in your mind that there is nothing else in the world but you and these poles that court eternity. Run. Your steps are like musical chimes, notes in some mad ballet. Leap. Bring the orchestra of feet to a frenzy, for you are rushing across a void stippled with these beams without missing a step.

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What Do You Choose to Remember? Why?

I don’t know why, but the image has stayed with me across all these years: a dark beach of gray-foamed surf juxtaposed with a tour bus vomiting forth pallid spring breakers. Excited handchatters congregating on rocky jut. Memory in the third-person. Myself sickened at sight of such sugary jubilation and darkly resentful from some long forgotten slight, choosing to feel and see the wind through out-stretched palms. I can’t truly, rightly remember whether it was really nightfall or a scene coloured by my mood. Rude week, luna blue nights, jagged bottleglass fences.