photo: ‘something single and solitary and perfect’
song: ben howard – “promise” [stream only] (buy)
‘somewhere, something amazing is waiting to be known.’ – carl sagan
my very first memory is from when i was three or four. i was with my family, we were outside and it must have been fourth of july because we had a big carton of sparklers. i remember watching mine burn and flash and bite in the summer air, the shrieks and laughs of my sisters echoing, and i remember being very, very still. i watched mine burn and die and i remember looking up at the moon. at that age, like most children, i pictured the moon as a slice of something that changed shapes. i didn’t understand that the moon stayed the same but our perception and view of it changed. and for some reason, as i stood there with my stump of sparkler, barefoot, i realized for the first time that the whole moon was there, i just couldn’t see all of it. i could see the crescent, and the very trace end of the sphere, but the majority of the moon was dark because i wasn’t in the right position to see the whole thing yet.
and that’s life. we see part of it, we’ve experienced part of it. part of it is tangible. many of us can see a trace outline of the end — we see goals and careers and maybe, eventually, getting married and having kids. but the middle part is so murky. a year from now, we could be somewhere completely different and we have no way of knowing. and it’s a little scary, a little unknown, a little adventurous. but it’s also sad, because in order to keep advancing the light across the surface of our lives, some things have to change.
and naturally things move and shift and burn bright, then die. we wax and wane and ebb and flow, just like the seasons and the moon. high tides, low tides, falling leaves. our lives are like fireworks, crackling and biting and spitting and shining, then fading ever so slowly. and sometimes we’re lucky, a long white streak marks the path of our departure. sometimes it’s the smell of smoke. but either way, we leave remnants, even if it’s just the excitement, the sense that something just happened, in the air. molecules are energized and you and i are responsible for that. we changed something. we may have changed everything.
and maybe it’s something you’ll never know — whether or not you’ve changed something or everything — but, every once in a while, you meet someone who changes something, everything for you. sometimes they leave a tiny fingerprint on the windowpane of your life. some barely whisper before they have left, like a lover in the early morning. some announce their arrival and change the entire course of things, like someone showing up at a party with booze. either way, they’ve shifted your perspective, they changed the view, they made you realize that something new is on the horizon. something different.
and sometimes that’s sad.
and sometimes that’s hard, especially when you realize that it won’t be the same for forever. that it won’t stay. that the seasons in your life have to change, too, and sometimes the coming season is a season of loss. it’s like wearing the same outfit every day, but one morning it fits your body differently. oddly. like you’re dressing a stranger and don’t know their skeletal structure. like putting a shoe on the wrong foot.
it’s unimaginable at first, that you could go on without these things you’ve lost. that the very things that have accompanied and even carried you through so many seasons are suddenly fading. it happens so quickly. they burned so bright and hot and, suddenly, with a final flash of brilliance, they’re gone. and you’re there, standing with a stump of sparkler, barefoot, and you are very, very still. you breathe in the smoke of their existence for as long as possible and you finally admit that, though they’re gone, they’ve changed everything.