Thursday, November 28, 2013

On being gulled and not gulled

It is November and we are back in Amesbury, MA, again. We left in August so I could return to teaching and we could prepare our Wellsboro house for sale. When we left the trees were leafed out, and the hill behind our house was a tangle of green all the way to the edge of the pond. The pond itself was nearly covered in green, growing out from the water lilies in the middle to the water chestnuts (?), which reached almost to the shore. Now, as we return in winter, the leaves are wind-piled in heaps and the pond looks as it did when we first saw the house--an expanse of open water seen through the skeletons of trees. The view that seemed so hemmed in in summer, though the big trees doing the hemming are a wonder themselves, is now open and expansive.

Being is about place and time. I keep wanting it to be about abstract ideas and transcendent truth, but being is what it is, and since we are people, even at their most abstract, our ideas must be embodied. Whenever I think I should have been a philosopher, I always come back to the idea that ambiguous truth in the context of story appeals to me more than absolute truth in the context of a constrained system.

This afternoon I saw a white gull flying over the pond in a fog that seemed to arise out of its flickering surface like a magic spell. The arcs the gull traced with graceful ease may or may not have had meaning in any human sense, but the gull was doing what it wanted to do--by design or instinct or both. It landed on the surface of the pond and floated for a few seconds, and then it was up and making another big swoop. I am intrigued by the question, "What does this experience, which I was both part of and not part of, have to do with me?" Finding the answer without forcing it is what literature is all about.

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