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Epiphany

January 22, 2007

Epiphany

This is what happens when you spend an entire weekend staring at a progress bar. So, bear with me or just move to the next photo.

Ahem.

I don’t know much. I have little to give in the way of wisdom. But I have held to some beliefs, largely unaltered, since I was a teenager. Of these, my strongest concerns love. I have no real clear understanding of it, aside from:

  • Like the universe, it’s completely random. You can sit next to someone for 10 years without feeling anything and then have it hit you the next day. And someone can walk into the room and that’s all she wrote. It cuts across the stupid things we argue about daily: age, race, creed, culture, and gender. It is totally random, and by the time you realize you are in it’s jaws, it’s far too late to do anything about it.
  • You can love someone and not be able to live with them. A lot of folk I care for deeply have had this happen to them. It is deeply tragic, and is the primary reason I always wish for the best when I see people get together…I’ve seen the aftermath far too often, and I wish ill of no couple.
  • It requires incredible strength of will. Georgia O’Keefe and Elizabeth Smart knew this.
  • Ortega Y Gasset once said:

    “It is not that love sometimes makes mistakes, but that it is, essentially, a mistake. We fall in love when our imagination projects nonexistent perfection onto another person. One day the phantasmagoria vanishes, and with it love dies.”

    This is a very pessimistic way of saying something very optimistic: We always fall in love with the people we need to complete us, at that moment, in that place, and love leaves only when we can no longer be complete with that person. In the luckiest of cases, this only occurs well after we have left this place ourselves.

  • Chicks dig shoes. Don’t ask me why. How did neanderthals get dates? Maybe that’s why they went extinct.

What does any of this have to do with a badly-photographed gate in an alley?

I’m glad you asked.

I realized tonight that the above applies as equally to an epiphany (except for the shoes) as it does to love. Nobody talks much about epiphanies, I suspect, because they are largely personal affairs and they are so hard to pin down. By their very nature, they are elusive. By the time you realize you are in the middle of one, it’s already run its course. And the harder you try to hold onto one, the faster it leaves you behind. I’ve found that only folk that are extremely strong-willed can act on an epiphany before it sluices away.

They are completely random. You can’t always live with, or act upon, any knowledge or wisdom they bring. They require incredible strength of will if you want them to stay at the forefront of your mind. And you only have them when you absolutely need them the most.

So, when I had one tonight, I took out the camera and shot the first thing I saw, which was the gate. This is beside the grocery store at Woodbine and Danforth, the neighborhood I grew up in, the place that exerts a massive influence on me, no matter how nondescript it may appear to be. I can’t hold onto it, any more than the next person.

But I can remind myself of it.

This picture won’t win any beauty contests or technical challenges. It’s probably my worst shot ever.

But it is the knot of string around my finger.

The reason I’m thinking about any of this at all probably has something to do with reading a pulpy werewolf novel and the latest Kurt Vonnegut back-to-back while ripping my cd’s. Never read a pulpy werewolf novel and the latest Kurt Vonnegut back-to-back while ripping your cd’s. It’s just bad news for all concerned.

Here’s what they had to say about things:

Patricia Briggs, Moon Called:

“Love thy enemies, it says in the scriptures. My foster mother always added, ‘At the very least, you will be polite to them.'”

Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country:

“But I have to say this in defense of humankind: In no matter what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got here.”

“I’m startled that I became a writer. I don’t think I can control my life or my writing. Every other writer I know feels he is steering himself, and I don’t have that feeling. I don’t have that sort of control. I’m simply becoming.”

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