The heart asks more than life can give – from Moonlight by Sara Teasdale
Let me list a few things, do they resonate with you?
- A riverboat on a clear night with yellowlit windows
- The moment you first recognize a voice from outside while approaching a party
- The taste in the air the first morning after everything had changed…
I have been obsessed with this specific feeling for as long as I can remember. The older I get, the more I notice the patina, like looking at an antique that has no practical use any more. At some moment in my life, I could swear I felt it for the first time and it was new.
It’s unnameable as far as I can tell, this feeling, but I constantly see people writing around it, like we’re all circling something ineffable.
A couple more things that may resonate…
- When you hear a good cover of a song you’ve forgotten
- When a melody makes you tear up before the words make sense
Music seems to be the closest way we can approximate this feeling. I remember being in New York City for the first time and hearing a choir and orchestra play a famous Christmas song, but they played it in such a way that I never heard or felt the same way again, but I can bring it out from the archives of my mind and play not just the sounds but the feeling that crawled up my spine and lifted my eyes to the sky, something akin to worship, but without an object of worship, an ejaculation of spirit into the void.
A strange, snickering way to put it…but accurate.
If the human condition is one of reaching for something glorious then maybe the feeling I’m obsessed with is the space between the reaching and the glory.
They say music is about the space between the notes as much as the notes themselves.
When I was in Buenos Aires, I felt like almost every moment was some kind of waiting. I was waiting for this to happen, or that. I would get bored at times and I would get impatient.
Looking back I don’t remember any of the waiting, or what it was like to wait. I remember the little things I did to break it up, but only like noise in a greater picture of the things I remember with vivid clarity, moments I can bring to mind in full resolution. I can remember seeing Julia’s face for the first time, but I don’t remember ducking into the back of the car she hired, though I do remember my knee bumping into hers on the drive into the city. I can point to the spot on my knee. If there was a way to prove it I bet I would be accurate within half an inch.
I’m trying to write a novel about this feeling I hardly understand. Aspects of it come to me clearly when I’m about my normal weekday routine. Things come to me best when a certain level of loneliness creeps in. When I’m not talking.
Ultimately I think all feelings precede thought, that thought is just a bantering language over something incredible. A steel case or a suit of armor. I don’t expect anything from my writing – certainly not a career or social acclaim and if not for Jason Storms I wouldn’t even expect a reader. But I write a lot anyway. If I can get closer to the core of whatever it is to be, it’s all I need.