Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Dance – A Novella (page one)

Most of what happens in a moment slips away, and most of that never makes its way back. While the focus often remains on what is lost, the beauty reveals itself in that which lingers. Or that which, having concealed itself long ago, emerges from memory at some unexpected, perhaps unwelcome and inconvenient, moment.

As experience slips into obscurity, human nature sends us after it, as if grasping to hold on, having failed, can be outdone by a chase in which the chased has an infinite reserve of energy. Never looking back to taunt its hunter, it simply flees into a speck, then gets washed away by the noise of all the other specks.

A moment that is beautiful in itself, short but profound, loses all splendor when its experiencer attempts to hold on. Attempts to make more of it, to develop it, to analyze it looking for that one path leading not to a dead end but off into heaven. But only luck will find that door; it is just one leaf on the forest floor and it looks no different than the rest, those that hide their dead ends amidst the belief, the illusion, that the special one is not so special, easily found and attainable to him that will seek it.

The woman from Chicago watched the dancers. She took in all the stimulus. She reflected on its relevance. What does the movement mean? And what is its connection to the feeling in the heart. She would later remark that the most obvious aspect of the dance is the movement, the variety of bodily contortions, the volume of movement packed into space and time really. But that this aspect of the art is the first to fall away from her experience of the moment.

“What does it leave behind?” he asked her. Not knowing she thought of her own experience, how dancing with, and being with, this man has robbed her of certain pleasures. Their connection, while glorious, has deadened her desire to connect with others. Not that she would wish as grand a connection as is felt when with him, but there is room for simple satisfactions too. Short love affairs never spoken of but experienced 3, 5, or 10 minutes at a time. A smile she offers to a man jogging by, knowing that it gives him a euphoric moment of pleasure, and feeling that with him, enjoying it as it washes itself away, never to return in that exact form. The intimacy of a tango, no commitment, no expectation, no responsibility to make pleasure for the other. Simply enjoyment of what is.

He had thought of this before meeting that night, this idea that love is the absence of expectations. He caught himself remembering a previous rendezvous. When they met that evening his doubts had been shattered easily by a sensuous kiss. A surprise that easily and gracefully eliminated the need for lips to say anything. Now, with an even greater feeling of doubt, he wanted that again. Knowing the setting would be as it was before, he hoped with fervor that the kiss would say the same thing. Then, as if shocked to life by the reality of the cold ocean, he loathed himself, and punished his emotions for this perfidious breach of the beauty of love.

The dance evoked sadness. In her, and in him because he felt what she did. He found his own sadness comforting, a message to himself that the connection is real. He embraced it, feeling a sense of chivalry. She found this hard to take; it added to her own despair. Responsible now for the sadness of two, she lamented the connection, feeling selfish and lethargic. It was a cycle that peaked only 4 days earlier. They spent most of that day together. On an empty beach, in an empty café, the only people in the world. She felt comfort then, happy for his existence, his friendship, his love. Now, all she wanted was to be away from him.

To this man, the cycle is well known. Not understood but known. Intuition leads him to try to draw her out of the cycle, to cheer her, comfort her, offer his aid. But intuition leads man astray as often as the wind carries a seed to fallow ground. The situation calls not for tenderness but brutality. Do not draw her out, but plunge her down. The path is inevitable; the best way to cover these steps is quickly. Ride with her, at least be willing, but do not pretend it can be avoided.

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