Friday, 6 April 2018
Skin Fur Light
In 2008 I made a resolution (which I have kept) never again to do anything but what I was sent here to do.
The question was, what might that be? It began an ongoing exploration into why I am here.
I asked a similar question back in 2002 — "What is the purpose of my life?" I knew from my Anglican childhood that the purpose of humankind was to love and serve God for ever, of course, but that held for me a pious falsity that didn't quite cut the mustard. Tentatively, I found a workable answer in my family — to be specific, my children — that doing the best I could for them felt my nearest to an authentic sense of purpose. But I held in mind the observation David Whiteland made in his brilliant Book of Pages — that having a purpose is the difference between a machine and a living being. A being is simply (gloriously) alive. It needs no purpose. Purpose is derivative — secondary to a user. Perhaps I didn't need a purpose (?)
As I've thought about what I came here to do, the answers that rang true have become less and less moral, dutiful and institutional.
Today, watching TV, for no reason at all, I rested the flat of my hand on the skin at the top of my chest beneath my throat, and it struck me how soft it felt.
I am glad I had the chance to live in a physical body and feel that particular sensation of softness.
Watching my body age intrigues me. The skin where my forearm comes to the inner side of my elbow is crepey now.
The skin of my face is lined and lived-in.
How interesting, how physical and earthly, is skin.
I came here to experience skin.
I am also thankful I had the chance to stroke fur.
To look at the noses of animals.
To watch light move through the house, interacting with everything as it falls and glances, making glints and shadows, mystery and glory. Light is the nearest thing I know to holiness made visible.
I am not sure I wholly get the hang of loving. Truth ebbs and flows like the sea, and is equally elusive to my grasp. I am the most useless person I know (in the strictest sense); reclusive, uncooperative, hard to see. I won't even answer the phone. It seems that was not what I came here to do.
But to see and to touch and to listen — to open my senses unto full stretch, allowing the inflooding of music flying up and up like a skylark rising — Mozart, Handel — or hear a nightingale or watch the colours of the dawn and the moon on a winter night. To behold the amber gaze of a vixen and engage in conversation with a crow. For these I am glad with the whole of my being that I had the chance to be here. To feast my eyes with ravenous joy on the sundance sparkling surface of the ocean.
That's what I came here to do.