mount edith cavell, 2009

I savor my alpine time mostly for the personal transformation I experience while embedded in the natural media. whether those changes are delightful physiologic adaptations wrought by intention or hallucinations brought on at the second coming of morning on an outing I try to remain present, available to glean all that my practice reveals to me.

this passage comes from a book I love by Maxine Hong Kingston called "The Woman Warrior". these words illustrate for me the hopelessness of running alone into the nighttime forest or swinging tools well into the thirtieth hour; these are words of deprivation and jubilation coexisting in the way they must. I hope you enjoy the journey through her vivid words. 

when you have been walking through trees hour after hour—and I finally reached the trees after the dead land—branches cross out everything, no relief whichever way your head turns until your eyes start to invent new sights. hunger also changes the world—when eating can’t be a habit, then neither can seeing. I saw two people made of gold dancing the earth’s dances. they turned so perfectly that together they were the axis of the earth’s turning. they were light; they were molten, changing gold—chinese lion dancers, african lion dancers in midstep. I heard high javanese bells deepen in midring to indian bells, hindu indian, american indian. before my eyes, gold bells shredded into gold tassles that fanned into two royal capes that softened into lions’ fur. manes grew tall into feathers that shone—became light rays. then the dancers danced the future—a machine-future—in clothes I had never seen before. I am watching the centuries pass in moments because I suddenly understand time, which is spinning and fixed like the north star. and I understand how working and hoeing are dancing; how peasant clothes are golden as king’s clothes are golden; how one of the dancers is always a man and the other a woman.

the man and the woman grow bigger and bigger, so bright. all light. they are tall angels in two rows. they have high white wings on their backs. perhaps there are infinite angels; perhaps I see two angels in their consecutive moments. I cannot bear their brightness and cover my eyes, which hurt from opening so wide without a blink. when I put my hands down to look again, I recognize the old brown man and the old grey woman walking toward me out of the pine forest.

it would seem that this small crack in the mystery was opened, not so much by the old people’s magic, as by hunger. afterward, whenever I did not eat for long, as during famine or battle, I could stare at ordinary people and see their light and gold. I could see their dance. when I get hungry enough, then killing and falling are dancing too.
— Maxine Hong Kingston "The Woman Warrior"

Comment