Towards the end of this last, lamented year – really, it never did have a chance – I had the sudden urge to leave. But perhaps that is the wrong word, with its sense of finality and closed doors – rather, I wanted to escape. Leave is of the body; escape is a talent of the mind.
I had grown weary of modern things, and the contemporary world outside. I suddenly felt bookish and secretive, as if I wanted to hold lives in my hands, watching them their chapters unfold between two covers. I wanted a vision that was distant. I wanted to dip my toe into centuries that weren’t mine and look into the stories beneath the ripples, and listen to them lapping on unseen shores.
Libraries to me always seemed to be in an eternal dusk, where a dark sun insinuated itself down aisles that towered with promises and ideas. I had hoped to live in that soft atmosphere, flush with silence and understanding. And I wish I was there now.
Modernity is everywhere, and I tire of it. Metal-bound and fast, it has consumed too much; demanded – and received – too many years. I need to escape, but not physically. My imagination, on the other hand, yearns to investigate time and distance: to touch the glow that simmers beneath strange horizons. I can feel that tempting heat now, and I want to follow it.
There are lives so distant, so buried, that it is hard to believe that they were ever blessed with existence. Their breath has long since evaporated, but their aged molecules still wreath about our heads like ghostly crowns. Their bones have long since fossilized into a sediment lively with the residue of spent lives – and their footsteps have cultivated the earth, making it into a sunken garden of past journeys.
I would like to see them alive again. I want to see their centuries blossom like forgotten countrysides becoming fertile once more under a nurturing and understanding attention. I wish I could walk through that landscape, feeling the green contour of the grasses on my fingers. If I could be there, I would sense the lush atmosphere of history like a velvety perfume….it would sink into my skin with all the permanence of memory. Realities that were not my own would assume shape. I would step into the sudden dimensions like a traveler, warmed by foreign suns, shadowed by antiquity, aglow with the magic of unknown lives.
And it’s there that I would escape. Who wants to come with me?