Wednesday, September 2, 2015

If You Go Down To The Woods Today

Want to go for a walk in the woods? I'm happy for some company, but I'll be muttering some things to myself. Things that you normally shouldn’t think about, because they’ll hurt you. If you want to enjoy this spring day, don’t read ahead; I might give you nightmares, make unseen things seen. 

Rather listen to your playlist. Even thinking about a single drop of water could vex you. I mean: We don’t know when the first molecule of water appeared on the Earth. We’ll never know. We can search for its brothers and sisters, we can look for buried signals in rocks… but we won’t know whether it was part of a snowflake, a raindrop, or etched on the face of a comet. Don’t think about it too much: you’ll drown. There are places in the Earth that are hotter than the surface of the sun. Don’t think about it too much: you’ll burn.

Still here? Okay, some ground rules. If you go wandering in the forest with me, keep your head low, and look only at the bright toadstools (and please don’t eat them). Don’t stare at the trunks of the trees, lest they become monsters, lest they chase you like Snow White when she fled the knife of the huntsman. Don’t think about it too much, because the creatures in the forest know, and they’ll follow you. I warned you not to read ahead, didn’t I? Fine. Come with then. I do get lonely in the woods sometimes.

But whatever you do, don’t go searching for the source of the spring, deep in this thicket. I don’t even want you to know that it’s right over there, where the trees do not care about the shape of the ground, where you won’t know you’re on top of an ancient mountain, because if you do, the snakes and the spiders will wake. And don’t look at the eyes, the deep orange eyes, burning like twin candles in the distance. In them, too, are things brighter and more terrifying that the sun.

Because when the sun swallows the earth, we won’t be there. We will be somewhere else, wandering the spaces between worlds, mightier than we’ve ever been. Even in your weakness you are strong, because when the Earth passes into the umbra of the eclipse, werewolves lose their powers and ghosts slam into walls. We stare at the moon made bare and ruddy and imagine great books opening and you will see, too, that the monsters each have two eyes, a nose, and a pulse that yearns for air.

Don’t think about it too much, for you’ll become wise. It will just make you hungry. For now, stare at the lights of the screen and feed on the stories that flicker past, unaware that they’re describing you as you read. Don’t comment. Don’t share. Lest you start searching for that first molecule inside yourself, because the others wouldn't want that. Next thing you'll be believing yourself to be hotter than the sun, deeper than the darkest reach of the ocean.

Because, you might want these thoughts to hurt you, and start searching, looking at the trees, feeling the air getting thinner as we climb. We wouldn't want the sun to stop shining now, would we?

No. Oh dear, no. Don’t think about it too much. You’re here now, at the other side of the woods, and you know it’s a bright day outside. Go out, then. Let the sunlight bathe you. Just a little. Don’t get burnt, don’t think about the fact that the light takes eight minutes across the great nothing to reach you. I can't come with, I have an appointment with someone who stubbornly keeps on wearing red.

Oh. One more thing. When you fall asleep tonight, don’t think about the fact that I might still be in the forest, the one place where… yes, oh dear, yes… you could think about anything.

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