Far From

I am sitting at my computer listening to the birds sing. I wonder where they come from, in the middle of winter: if you listen carefully, you will notice that some of the song changes from month to month. New birds arrive in the city.
As I sit, I think of my friend visit the Matisse exhibit as he reaches his octogenarian year, and regret this aspect of space that divides us. He says he goes so often, he knows the security guards. I imagine him in his horn-rimmed glasses, feeling relief at the lilies, symbols that never die, in the silence of the museum, away from the blare of the news that disturbs him. I feel relief knowing that the show arrived to take him away from the other thoughts he would otherwise entertain.
And it is this taking away, or drawing out, that I am mindful of. Because this week I had the strangest feeling that sometimes, and maybe most of the time, the most Important Things may not actually be before our eyes, rather the Important Things stand behind this silly game that must be played, and played half-hearedly, lest we lose sight of the Things through petty distraction - like when we let our minds get carried away with Other People.
But Other People are but a smoke screen - what a terrible fate, to be walled in to a smoke screen. The human being wants to imagine a way out of the plaster. This does not have to be violent, it could be like those early-Byzantine discoveries: behind one mosaic is another of a phoenix, found by seeing through the top layer.
There is a percentage of life that does not deserve attention. It is a large percentage, like the percentage of ocean over land. This percentage is called "the seas" and it looks like a giant mirror, but beneath the reflections are magical creatures, some as transparent as rice paper, but with fairy lights that can be seen only in the dark.
So the darkness, the Other People, appear like creatures on a cave wall, testing our vision. No, it is not those creatures we must be perceiving, but the wall behind them, with its own creature-esque shapes, telling us about the movements of this giant body called earth, which reminds us of Life, and Mystery.
I have felt this excitement at the under-layers. I found it, too, in the Greek epigrams that open so many Victorian books. It is these epigrams, and the seabed of knowledge they contain, that is inspiring me to finally study ancient Greek, something I have always wanted to do. In one line, a different, more complex light shines on the work of prose - I found it in this line from the Illiad, μοι χάνοι εὐρεῖα χθών, quoted here to express the depth of scholarship. The Iliad line reads, let the wide earth gape for me (deciphered from here and here), but without being sure of its meaning, I just like for now the vistas the association opened up for me: the context of the Iliad passage is the promise of justice being done.
There are people who look at me askance because to their eyes I overcomplicate things by trying hard and reading so much (ha, and I don't even know if I am getting it right). But those people are becoming to me like a smokescreen, behind which lies a Better World that I cannot wait to learn more of. And in this way, I associate myself with my friend at the Matisse exhibit, wandering in silence among flowers, far from the maddening crowd (origin; poem).

P.S. When I wrote thisI had Monet's lilies in mind, probably due to a muddle of memories from
a visit to the Musée de l'Orangerie.
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