When is too late too late?
When does Neverland become Nevermore?
I ordered a print of Viktor Vasnetsov's, "A Knight at the Crossroads," which appeared in my December 31 post. When it arrives, it will be on the wall nearby so I can look up at it and drift off into it.
I suppose it is true of many skilled painters, but Viktor (there is a pun there) captures perfectly the exhaustion in both the man and his mount -- the slumped shoulders and the bowed heads, the weapon barely grasped and pointed downward from the slight weight of the iron point. My affection for this painting grows whenever I look at it. It is an expression which every man, who is honest with himself, realizes and accepts. Life continues, but he does not -- at least not too much further. What direction is most likely the last he will take in his life? Which road?
Without even seeing this man's face, I know which way he will travel. He will take the fork to the right. Better to lose his head, his life, than to lose what is his and what is close to him. He and his horse will pass on to another land, another place, or they will become bones along the side of the roadway like those lying immediately before him. They will live together or die together.
Life and death have been a theme in my life lately, although not my own. January is another of my months of many memories. So many; so close. It competes with October in that regard. So, a few: Happy birthday, mother; happy birthday, Little Light's mother; happy Marine Corps anniversary, Fram; RIP, Rory; RIP R. Henry.
My own life remains what it seems always to have been: A cry for freedom. Probably, it is more accurate to say freedom and searching. Where is the blue lagoon? Where is the endless forest of Mythago Wood? Where is the place across the river and into the trees? Where is the path up and out of Dante Alighieri's descent into hell? Where is Tralfamadore? Where is the lake in which dwells Viviane? Where is the thrice-ten kingdom of Ivan the Fool? Where is where?
Life is nothing if not fascinating. (It has been a while since I used that word.) So, ask me where this post is going. I will answer: Nowhere. Or, should I respond with a name? Noman, as Odysseus answered the Cyclops who asked his name, or should I say Aethon, as he lied to Penelope when he appeared before her as a beggar after twenty years' absence. Odysseus reached continuous and seemingly endless forks on his road, but, at the end, he took the correct turn and returned to where he began. (As long as one does not read Nikos Kazantzakis, who sends him wandering again.) Whatever .... this, I do not wish for me. Returning to my origins, I mean. I wish to go to places where I have never been and never will be again.
To live is to close one's eyes and to jump.
Life is only a road. How wide or how narrow it is depends upon each of us individually. At times, it is bordered by fields or cities; at other times, by vast seas or bottomless chasms. It leads to everywhere and to nowhere, but, sooner or later, it will become a road with no more forks upon which to make a decision about which is best to follow. It will lead only to an inevitable, hollow end.
Or, to borrow the words of Ernest Hemingway that I occasionally like to use: "Life is a cheat, and don't forget it."
It really is fun, though, is it not?
To tease life and to taunt death?
Because even to win is no more than a temporary victory.
So, in a sentence, laugh at life and curse at death, because no matter how lucky you are, sooner or later the road will disappear from beneath you.
And, I will continue to write stuff like this -- mere words, simple words, only words, just words -- until the last laugh is on me.