Phoenix

To attend through the night the dawn reminds me of opening the window blinds during a long distance flight and being flooded by unexpected sunlight; waking up in the desert after hours and hours of bus riding, eyes transfixed on the desert brush making hieroglyphs on the land, prying eyes open against sleep to see the young blue sky alongside those yawning yellow hills. These are the usual circumstances of my vigil.
This morning I watched the sun emerge, at its earliest the light swelled in but five minutes, the pinks then taking their time to leave the sky: now, with the sky's tribute to primary colours, the subtle hues of dawn are hard to imagine.
Sometimes, the city-dweller may feel such longing to be reunited with the earth that only at dawn can that peace be felt, the letters of the sky read, that deeply personal letter communicated to the soul. That picture postcard of all one wishes to bury in the darkness enveloping the emerging eye of light, the rays to be identified with, leading one into the new day of hope.
So much has been weighing on me that I found meaning in the journey I took to reach this new day not through sleep but awake.
Dark straws of unprincipled behaviour had piled up in an overwhelming disbelief that people are not embarrassed by their lack of attempt towards character. The most banal illustration is of the shop assistant who claimed a faulty good had been repaired. Despite the visibly shoddy job, the salesperson pretended the item looked like new. That sums up the unfortunate string of experiences: the behaviour of people feeling they can't rely on the accountability of their workplaces, fearing someone else will fill their shoes. But I am old enough now to know not to trust such coincidence: straws lack the depth of the bigger picture. A haystack, after all, is but a detail of the landscape, even though there are times when everyone seems to focus on the haystack, as if there were nothing else to life.
I gave myself back the bigger picture this morning: the eye of dawn as an image I tried to memorise. I do not want to live in the fear or disappointment that misinform action. Such thoughts I wished to cut up this morning for a kindling to give rise to the flame of the rising sun; the smoke oracle in dark clouds, the message I read to myself about life being so much greater than our limitations.




Out of the dawn, the phoenix. And I do not know if by phoenix I mean the colour, as the word may have signified in Linear B, or the bird itself. For the colour of the phoenix is of course the colour of fire, and also the three principle colours of Heptaktis, the Chaldean god of seven rays. Interestingly, it is variations of these three colours: magenta, cyan, and yellow, that create the broadest palette for painters - if falling short of the whole gamut. The crossroads of these colours is the night from which the phoenix emerges.
Beyond optics is the register of colours on the emotions; who would claim that the first waves sent from the horizon do not evoke a communication that surpasses the vessels of words? In the last two days, two beautiful posts have referenced the holy vessel of imagination - specifically, how this relates to the task of the non-careerist crowd-pleaser, writing towards the higher tasks of literature. Only the small-minded make inferior mountains from the straws that menace camels.
The phoenix of culture is to rise above where mythos got cancelled out by the logos of Enlightenment, and return to the beautiful as a way of knowing, to cite Gadamer, for the darkness of circumstance to be lightened up by the pathos of character and the pathos of the emotional appeal that may be made by the one still building character. To bring wider range to the communication that breaks down when there is little trust.
Once upon a time, I worked with those termed as 'challenged' in a non-profit abode that was the labour of love of two women who knew that those in need cannot provide fully for the even needier. I still remember the range of personalities and behaviours. But I remember most the small-framed woman in the cot, who would stare at the cupboard. Every day, I tried to get her to turn her head to look out the window. One day as I stood over her, she slowly moved her head, turtle's pace, to the greenery outside, and her oddly-shaped mouth turned up at the edges.
I do not know if she understood or even registered the vegetation I hoped she would observe. But that subtle and painfully slow gesture remains in my mind, along with images of travelling into the light, one of my, perhaps awkwardly grandiose, wishes. That we turn each other's heads to look outside. That our choices not be informed by pettiness, that we not be afraid to share, make mistakes, or start again. That if we break down and lose faith and words and the ability to move, we will at least register the meaning of colour at dawn.



1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photographs.
    Just stopping by to wish you a wonderful week.

    ReplyDelete

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