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I walked slowly out on the beach. A few yards below high-water mark I stopped and read the words again: WRITE YOUR WORRIES ON THE SAND. I let the paper blow away, reached down and picked up a fragment of shell. Kneeling there under the vault of the sky, I wrote several words, one above the other. Then I walked away, and I did not look back. I had written my troubles on the sand. The tide was coming in.
Turbulent childhood, adolescent daydreams in the drone of the bus’s motor, mornings, unspoiled girls, beaches, young muscles always at the peak of their effort, evening’s slight anxiety in a sixteen-year-old-heart, lust for life, fame, and ever the same sky through the years, unfailing in strength and light, itself insatiable, consuming one by one over a period of months the victims stretched out in the form of crosses on the beach at the deathlike hour of noon.
And if she asks you why you can tell her that I told you. That I’m tired of Castles in the Air. I’ve got a dream I want the world to share in castle walls. Just leave me to despair. Hills of forest green where the mountains touch the sky. A dream come true, I’ll live there ’til I die. I’m asking you, to say my last good-bye. The love we knew, ain’t worth another try.
It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.
No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps, and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts…. That was the kind of tree it was. It liked poor people.
Born often under another sky, placed in the middle of an always moving scene, himself driven by the irresistible torrent which draws all about him, the American has no time to tie himself to anything, he grows accustomed only to change, and ends by regarding it as the natural state of man. He feels the need of it, more he loves it; for the instability; instead of meaning disaster to him, seems to give birth only to miracles all about him.
It’s a hard life, but it’s the only life we have. And sometimes-‘ he pointed to a bright flash of lightening, its jagged light stretching from the sky to the ground, ‘-it’s still beautiful. Sometimes you find something that makes this all worth it. And when you do, you hang onto it for as long as you can.’ He turned to me, shrugging one shoulder. ‘That’s the best you can do.
I hear it still. As I lay down my pen and take to my bed, I am aware of the bow being drawn across the bridge and the music rises into the night sky. It is far away and barely audible – but there it is! A pizzicato. Then a tremelo. The style is unmistakable. It is Sherlock Holmes who is playing. It must be. I hope with all my heart that he is playing for me . . .
Industrial vomit…fills our skies and seas. Pesticides and herbicides filter into our foods. Twisted automobile carcasses, aluminum cans, non-returnable glass bottles and synthetic plastics form immense middens in our midst as more and more of our detritus resists decay. We do not even begin to know what to do with our radioactive wastes – whether to pump them into the earth, shoot them into outer space, or pour them into the oceans. Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.
I’ve met some serious aliens in my life, for sure. I’m sure you’ve seen a UFO. Haven’t all of us seen something flying in the sky, and it’s at some random time of night that doesn’t make sense, and it’s not the shape of a plane? I don’t know if I’d go with an alien to space. I would have to feel the alien’s vibe. I’m a vibe person.
The difficulty lay with the mind accommodating itself to the notion of the plane, with all its weight, defying gravity, staying aloft. She understood the aerodynamics of flight, could comprehend the laws of physics that made flight possible, but her heart, at the moment, would have none of it. Her heart knew the plane could fall out of the sky.
Let’s think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world…Try walking around with a child who’s going, ‘Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!’ And the child points, and you look, and you see, and you start going, ‘Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!’ I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world – present and in awe.