Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Making Waves

Virginia Woolf loaded the pockets of her overcoat with stones and walked into the river. That didn't go so well for her. Or maybe it did, since she did what she set out to do. I remember reading "To the Lighthouse" in college and being swept up in her language, her ideas, how it all hung together. And then was done with Virginia.

But a book kept coming up on my radar screen. It would surface, burn hot, have me curious and then subside as some other new shiny object grabbed my attention. But it would always come back. That book is Woolf's "The Waves." I'm a little more than halfway through it.

At base I am a word whore. I love language. Ideas. Stringing them together, they rush over me and take me with them; sometimes to where they intended to take me, sometimes to somewhere completely different, off the map. "The Waves" is a book for word whores. Ideas swim through it.

Now passions that lay in wait down there in the dark weeds which grow at the bottom rise and pound us with their waves. Pain and jealousy, envy and desire, and something deeper than they are, stronger than love and more subterranean. The voice of action speaks.

Let that rush over you. I'll give you a minute. Pain, jealousy, envy and desire, stronger than love. If you don't believe that, try it out, think back. Pain and jealousy, those subterranean, base feelings, will fu**ing override love every time. They will sweep you up and burn you. They can undo almost anything that love can do, in a fraction of the time. They sweep us up in a frenzy. Or they can.

And then there is love. In the background. It's maybe kicked back at a corner table, watching all the base feeling and emotions duke it out in a bar brawl. And once they have exhausted themselves, Love gets up, leaves the waitress a fat tip, and steps over jealousy, envy, pain, over the broken bottles and bloodied knuckles, and walks out. Let's hope Love is the last standing.

I wonder if our capacity for love is constant. If we are born with it, like energy in the Universe, that it just changes form, changes its object, grows and shifts and swirls, reveals itself more and more, if we're lucky, but it's always there in us. I wonder if we can see it reflected back at us in or by certain people. We recognize it. We just know. That someone else's energy or love feels like ours. And we know when we feel it. Maybe that is the big Love.

Or maybe love, like energy, like waves, sweeps us all up in it and throws us around, onto shore, back out to sea. We are at its mercy. Maybe it just throws us into people, randomly, by chance, and our best option is to figure out how to swim, how to surf, to try to go with the waves.

I don't have a clue. Woolf and her waves. That's one small stretch, less than a paragraph, that I read sitting on the back deck, in and out of cutting the grass, drinking a Stone Saison. And I have to stop. And let her words, her waves, rush over me.