Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The meaning of the word "is"

It can be a bolt of lightning, without warning, against a pitch dark night sky. The quick illumination and the darkness. The suddenness is all. The moment presents itself. Or it can slowly evolve over tremendous odds snaking its way through a thicket of opposition and turbulent rivers of chaos. The moment where a feeling of total bliss or one of complete unhinging of the mind delivers the unmistakable sense of doom. There is a fleeting sense of despair or a collective feeling of love and affection. Warmth flows. Where all appears lost and then in that one second all is regained. A sensation that soars through the wilderness of thought collapsing into a sentiment so deep and yet completely vivid, so compelling, this then is the cumulative evolution of time sequenced human endeavor. This then is the collective nuance of shadows and bright lights. This then is the wondrous of moments called “is.”

A woman gets into her car to drive to an appointment. The road is empty and she immerses herself into the fold of her favorite music. A solo violin drowns the world into a emotional cascade. The rise and fall of the notes imbued with the sentiment of the violinist evoking emotive bursts of repressed feelings. The houses pass by in a blur as do the trees, it is a cinematographer’s dreamscape created out of reality. The traffic lights all conspire to keep the car moving at great speed. The essence of life is instilled into the moment as the outside world fades into non-existence and only the sound of the music fills the void within the automobile. The now is what matters. All is well. Time has stood still and there are no petulant contrary opinions or a flood of rogue ideas advocating confusion. The driver is on a mission to sign a multi-million dollar deal at a bank 50 miles away. A life-changing event for her.

On the asphalt of the opposing crossroad travels a man seat-belted in a red convertible smiling from ear to ear speeding his way to meet his sweetheart whom he has not seen in several interminably long days. The castle of desires tempts to speed the passage of time trying to get more than the allotted fragmented moment will yield. The wind has blown his weariness away. His face flushed by the warm sun is cooled by the rush of air drying off his perspiration. Time is wild with anticipation and moments merge into a cacophony of ideas all collaborating, contesting, cajoling and convening to formulate the final plan.  What would he say first or would he say anything? Would she speak first? Or would he just hold her to him? With his foot on the accelerator and the stretch of the road in its pencil straight geography the conspiracy of safety and risk grows by the second. The two roads are about to cross.

A bird flies overhead chirping its discord. She has just wrested a small worm from the ground below her feet. She carries it to her nest to feed her young. From the ground her flight appears strangely like that of a drunken sailor, haphazard yet deliberate to reach her destination as the aerodynamics of her wings collide with the crazy non-directional breezes of the summer.

The mighty oak tree stands erect shading a portion of the intersection with its bounty of thick branches and leaves. This is the home for the bird’s nest and her three young mouths that have to be fed.

Meanwhile the biker wearing his bright blue helmet stands with his one foot on the ground and the other on the pedal dousing his face with the water from the green-blue plastic water bottle. His face is red in stark relief to his black jersey. with exertion and his mind joyous with the deliciousness of the released endorphins. He feels on top of the world. He feels energized for the next one hour of pedaling against inertia. In that moment he feels he owns a piece of this time.

These are country roads, without traffic lights and where the two intersect there are stop signs placed on all four sides, faded in color but visible in intent. There is an inexorable plod to destiny. Is it prescience or just a collision of fates and time? What holds the motion to the exactness of time? What precision sways one driver to accelerate and the other to decelerate through that wad of time to present themselves at the appointed moment? What makes the cyclist stop at that exact place to find shade under that tree when there are several others nearby? And what makes the bird fly at around the trees happily fluttering its way to find the wanting, squawking mouths of its young ones? There is destiny in all this. There is a harmony in all time. There must be reason in this “is.”

The cyclist lifts his head up to look at the bird and his water bottle drops on the road. It rolls steadily spilling as it ends up in the middle of the road. Unbeknownst of the trending calamity moving his way he drops his bicycle and walks toward the middle of the intersection where his bottle lies. He bends down to pick it up as the roar of the V8 engines merge in synchrony to create a low incipient thunder.

The driver in the convertible sees the cyclist first and applies his brakes. The screeching tires trying to hold on to the asphalt slip and lose their grip as the car skids into a three-sixty moving with just a tad slower speed towards the intersection. By now the other driver also sees the cyclist’s figure erecting itself in a sudden change in stance. She pumps the brakes and the anti-brake locking mechanism does a staccato of short bursts of braking action. The car moves steadily with a rat-a-tat-a-tat in the path of the driver’s intuitive choosing to avoid the cyclist and stops on the roadside gravel. Meanwhile the convertible deploys the anti-roll bar as the left side of the car un-weights itself off the road momentarily veering to its left heading towards the cycle lying on its side, stopping just before the metal is within a graze of the natural bark of the tree.

Life is preserved and the “is” now has become a “was.” Destiny has presented another soul-searching moment of what could have been for the inhabitants of this small space of a country road intersection. The “is” that is now a “was,” has changed their lives perceptibly for the future. Fortuitous, destiny, fate or just plain “is,” – it is that evolutionary collective of moments.

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