Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scared of the Dark

Just around the corner is a small deconsecrated chapel, in the traditional cross shape with a high wooden ceiling and an old carpeted floor. At nights, when my mind is restless and full of melodies, I sneak through the side door that is never locked and tiptoe to the middle of the cross where the old little electronic keyboard sits. There is peace there, hidden in the shadows under dim lighting and opaque stained glass.

I creep there tonight with my blank music staves under my arm, and find the lights off for the first time. Nothing to worry about. I’ll find the switch. I flip my phone open and comb the the brick walls. Wooden crossbeams and candle holders. Black plastic outlets. Nothing. I sing loudly to reassure myself, and Gershwin’s “Summertime” bounces freely from floor to ceiling and back and dies on the muffled floor. All around me. Darkness. Interrupted by the dim glow from street lamps squeezing through the unwilling windows. And suddenly my mind empties and fillstobursting at the same time My chest is wrenchingdesperately inside my ribcage My heartbeatbeatbeat overcomes my voluntary motion Frozenboltinggone.

When I was maybe twelve years old I yearned to flex my independence. I moved out of my brother’s room for the first time and into the guest bedroom, where my parents’ library decorated two walls. On the other walls I taped black-and-white printouts of my favorite Christian bands. At nighttime, I lay under the comforter in the huge bed. I was too old and too cool for a night light. And in the dreaded moments of darkness between my mother’s good-night prayer and the unpredictable adventures of dreamland, I imagined dark hooded figures with cold, scaly fingers, gliding soundlessly to my bedside to smother me. to suck out my soul.

We don’t believe in a god. But the spirits of the dead haunt our very rooms. They prankishly flip our light switches as we sleep and jiggle our doors as we shower. They manifest their stolen power in floating orbs of dust on a camera screen. We try to chase them away. We burn sage and incense and seek our feng shui. But eventually, inevitably, we must either run away to another room or resign ourself to their presence and be content.

I’ve heard that the fear of darkness is simply the fear of the unknown. Simply. Two possible solutions: know everything (/ unwittingly claim ignorance). simply refuse to be afraid. Simply.

Listen: Darkness is necessary and sacred and precious and beautiful only because there exists light. A blind man can no more know darkness than a deaf man can know silence. Darkness is the canvas upon which the sun paints a masterwork of cherry blossoms and weeping willows and foamy surf and lover’s eyes only to be erased at dusk and resketched at dawn. She, my magnificent darkness, offers unthinkable terrors to those who flee her broad cloak, and profound secrets to those who gaze into her depths. She is all things in disguise of no thing. She is rightly to be feared by those who fear. Very rightly to be embraced by her children. (Simply.) as a nurturing mother.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indubitably Supreme

The next time I find myself in the midst of a heated debate regarding the classification of a tomato, I will know exactly what to say. I will bring into remembrance the 1893 case of Nix v. Hedden, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that the tomato is indeed to be called a vegetable based on its functionality (at least for tax purposes), despite its fruity botanical makeup. All the same, the tomato is the official fruit of three different states, and New Jersey (that wily maverick!) has thus far been unsuccessful in its efforts to make it the state vegetable.

I side with Shakespeare: “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That is, I really don’t care enough about this to make you read any more. The end.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"What is your ultimate goal in studying music?"

Though I surely wish to liberate the sound within me and fling it to and fro across the earth, and though I someday hope to lead fellow artists in siphoning heaven and hell from their bones, let my higher aim in the study of music be this:
to know the language of our collective human soul, and thereby master the language of my own.
to isolate life in its purest form, and so learn to fully live.
to create, that I might satisfy a sacred frustration which knows no other outlet.
to build a bridge, firmly connecting disparate cultural worlds.
to one day be found worthy to interrupt the perfection of silence.

Friday, September 11, 2009


We cast our lines
because we have faith in our partners
who work just as hard as we do
to be caught.

By baiting our hooks
we only bite and hook ourselves
for who is more captive than he who holds the rod?

Let us agree. We both need each other.
I catch you. You catch me.
I consume you. You consume me.
We lose. We gain.
Could it be any better?

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I wanted to say:

Do you know the pain of a new butterfly's struggle
freeing himself from his chrysalis prison?
I am sure you do.
I have felt your strain against the walls
your frustration
fighting so hard for so long
to break through.

Yes, you know his sorrow
as I have — but greater
you suffer more deeply than ever have I.

But I know something you do not:
the blinding glory of the light
the rushing wind of winsome flight
the confidence of crimson might
to never, never fade.

It will not be long.

Do you know?
the thicker the walls, the stronger the wings

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fear not, little heart. Never fear again.

For this is solid and this is good.

And yes, you are too weak
too weak to be her stepping stone
(and she yours!)
but you walk side-by-side
both at once carrying one another
and being carried by that great mystery

But what if it, too, is too weak?
then we will fall
and fall magnificently
and only then, after we are shattered below
sorting our bones to be carried off
will we know

But then, I hear there are other possible outcomes.
And either way, we grow.
and we grow well

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why fear you, little heart?

Do now you know that any tree
whether in a pot or in the earth
cannot help but grow
slowly but firmly
through winter and spring
with branches outstretched in longing toward
the light?