Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away—an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.
The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.
― Czeslaw Milosz
We are continually overflowing toward those who preceded us, toward our origin, and toward those who seemingly come after us. … It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again “invisibly,” inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.
“Listen to th’ wind wutherin’ round the house,” she said. “You could bare stand up on the moor if you was out on it tonight.”
Mary did not know what “wutherin’” meant until she listened, and then she understood. It must mean that hollow shuddering sort of roar which rushed round and round the house as if the giant no one could see were buffeting it and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in. But one knew he could not get in, and somehow it made one feel very safe and warm inside a room with a red coal fire.
For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.
And he came to understand that the burial of the broken wasn’t eccentric — this was what people did every day, stuffing their brokenness down, pushing it down, smoothing the surface over, making the surface look like nothing was broken underneath. Because, if people see that you are broken, they will not want to stand with you. They will migrate away from you the way groups of people walking down the street will move aside when a shambling ranting man approaches. They will look at the ground and look away so that such a person becomes invisible.
Mission San Antonio de Padua, California, ca.1906 Public Domain Image
Through the window, I saw the beautiful world outside: the sky, the sun, the cacti, the rocks, and the dirt.
How I longed to return to it! I licked at the air, trying to smell the desert’s delicious dusty scent, but could not. How was I able to see it without smelling it? Did humans control scents as well as the temperature and the waters?
Is that what windows were for, to keep out scents? Why did they wish to put invisible barriers between themselves and the world?”
Flying has always been to me this wonderful metaphor. In order to fly you have to trust what you can’t see. Up on the mountain ridges where very few people have been I have thought back to what every flyer knows. That there is this special world in which we dwell that’s not marked by boundaries, it’s not a map. We’re not hedged about with walls and desks. So often in an office the very worst thing that can happen is you could drop your pencil. Out there’s a reminder that are a lot worse things, and a lot greater rewards.