11 December 2008

When the Flesh Feels the Chain

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
~ Albert Einstein

I
believe in fairies…

Christina Croft recently wrote a post on Emily Bronte's poem, The Prisoner. It is a poem of haunting brilliance that speaks of Emily's anguish with having to deal with the outer world and her desire to remain untouched on her beloved moors.

dreadful is the check--intense the agony--
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.
"The soul to feel the flesh and the flesh to feel the chain." That line is a watchword spoken and understood only by those souls graced with artistic sensibilities. One of my housemates calls it "feeling too much" and views it as a curse and a vice. But I think one should be grateful for this sometimes indefinable gift. I would much rather feel too much than not at all. Someone once told me that he hears music and analyzes the notes making up the chord progressions. As a musician, I recognize the importance of technique and theory. But there is much more to music than just that! It fills one up, caresses the body and soul with velvet sound and carries one to another level of emotion and perception. In a word ~ you feel it. Otherwise, it is just notes on a page and any computer can replicate that.

* * * *
Do you remember Anne of Green Gables? I am sure my female readers do. Marilla often worried about Anne's emotional capacity. Her lows seemed lower than anyone else's and her cup of sorrow and darkness was almost bottomless. But that only meant that her highs and her capacity for love and joy and ecstasy was equally as bottomless. Life is never all comedy or tragedy; it is both, wrapped up in one glorious whole! And the more one can experience it, the more fully human one is.

This ability to experience life and its accompanying emotions to the nth degree, when coupled with a rich and living imagination and that inner artistic sight which is almost spiritual, does have a downside. And that is loneliness. Because one is never fully understood by those who see the world with pragmatic eyes. The Marillas of the world do not quite understand the Annes; they view the Emilys as quite morbid. All this high drama could be so easily avoided; why in the world would you waste precious energy on gushing over whatever it is that has now caught your fancy!? There are dishes to be washed; laundry to be ironed, the world to save, etc., etc., etc.

Well, I have news for Marilla. Such souls do save the world: they save it through beauty. Art and poetry. Drama and music. They save it simply by being alive. Because they are so alive!!
For a time, the condescending remarks of the Marillas pierce the artistic heart. But it learns quickly to lock the door to such barbs. Indeed, why waste precious energy trying to explain the unexplainable?! So the Emilys of this world travel alone in their inner sanctum; alone and yet...never truly alone. For the inner world is teeming with life that only they can experience. And if they are met by another soul with the same gift ~ then and only then does the key turn and the door thrown wide.
* * * *

So. Why mention fairies at the beginning? Because I grew up walking the woods behind our home, eyes straining at the slightest movement, utterly convinced of their existence. That flash of light that catches the eye? The reflection of sunlight on gossamer wings. The small, low opening in an ancient trunk? The gateway to another world. If only one could find the key to physically step through!

And I haven't lost that childhood belief. Somehow, I have managed to hold on to innocence, if not
naiveté. To hope in the midst of despair. To bathe in the streams of sunlight in a dark wood. But I dare not mention it other than here, under the cover of a crowded room. The Marillas would merely raise their eyebrows or worse yet, smirk condescendingly and murmur: Ahhh, Mikaela. You are something else.

Indeed. And I would not have it any other way.

Oremus pro invicem,
Mikaela
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