Friday, June 22, 2007

15.2 Hours

More or less, give or take, in the place where I currently find myself, 15.2 hours constituted my official longest day of the year yesterday (though today will hardly be noticeably different). We've had beautiful weather, and I am now officially on about six weeks vacation, so I had it in mind to do something special with the day, or at least to be awake for all of it. It started out quite well, with a jolt of cappucino:
This was shortly after dawn, and another dose cup followed soon after. I soon had breakfast on and laundry going, not the stuff of a legendary day, but I wasn't out for that, wasn't looking for the big trip, the special event, the dawn or evening plunge into the sea. A nice bike ride in the afternoon would have been nice. My one ambitious project was to force myself to actually go to the dealer of a certain type of automobile, as my current beloved vehicle is still beloved, but rapidly showing the signs of having exceeded its natural lifespan some time ago. I would see to it, do the test drive, play those preliminary car-buying games, and then have enough natural daylight left to recover. The dealer is some ways away, so I called before setting out, only to find that the agent I'd been talking with was out for the day. I suppose I could have gone anyway, but I'd dealt with him on the phone, etc. etc. So I didn't go. I ran some errands out in the bright day instead, breezes sweeping the trees and flowers around, sun everywhere. Perhaps it is the relief of vacation finally here, compounded by having survived a trying round of cutbacks at work, perhaps it was the idea of all that time, all that luxurious time. I bought some birthday presents for a soon to be eighty-one year old friend of my mother's, groceries, finally my own copy of The Kite Runner, which I have picked up and put down at least twenty times since last summer, thinking "wait until you have time" (am I the only person out there who admits to just getting to this book ? I admit it with genuine happiness that I now have time to really dig in). By the time I came home, my plans for late afternoon cookie baking and then a foray out to the local lake were being countervailed by heavy legs and a webby brain. Not coincidentally, I assume, had come along a mass of dark thunder clouds, thickening the sky, dropping the temperature, ratcheting up the breeze to something more menacing and imminent. Scarcely had the tea been made, the laptop and other assorted electronics been unplugged or surge protector assured than did the lightening crack right next to boom after boom, did the cats affix themselves to the carpet fibers under the bed, and I ----. Cup of tea in hand, blanket fetched from bed, body on couch (it was by now very dark), The Kite Runner clearly demanding more energy than I had, I kept hearing in my head, Dream of Thunder, Perfect Mind. That's the coptic, not the film or, I take it, the band. I don't know were the "dream of" part came from, it doesn't seem to be part of the title, though I think I remember it as the title in one of my textbooks in college or elsewhere. It was the title that kept repeating itself, though I looked up the whole text today (linked above), and, of course, how apropos it was, at least the first lines, for such a display of force going on outside of my window. I am often energized by thunderstorms, and have vacuumed, showered, written, and/or baked when conditions have suggested otherwise: the real electricity (or is it nitrogen ? or both ?) in the air, the cooling and clearing sky: I've gone out to meet it. Nothing so rash as dancing around in an empty field, but something so foolish as sitting out on my porch, rain drenching me, lightening flashing away. Only when I lived in a tropical climate did I find disappointment with thunderstorms. The huge rain and enormous crashes of light and sound seemed to bring only more humidity and steaminess, as if some giant had taken a shower and we were trapped in its bathroom. I would dearly like to experience thundersnow, a phenomenon known to occur in the midwest where I lived, but not one that visited during that time. Thunder, I thought, perfect mind.... A mantra or, more likely, a koan, reverberated, and my own consciousness fell away. From my 15.2 hours, subtract three, which, to judge from the gray pallor of the sky to which I opened my eyes, seems only to have been day in technical sense. The rest of the day/evening revived itself: the cats emerged, I put on another cup of tea, started dinner, and tugged my laptop out to the balcony to watch the sun go down, the neighbors' lights go on across the little woods, the birds coming home, the summer settling in.

Update, 6.23.07: I was intrigued, when I browsed for the text, by the mention of a "Thunder, Perfect Mind" short (6 minute) film, by Jordan Scott (daughter of Ridley). An even shorter version (4 minutes) was used for a Prada perfume commercial, though I found the original (?) version of that, fully credited to the director and with rolling credits at the end, on YouTube. It was filmed in Berlin. It juxtaposes a woman on a train reading the text of the Nag Hammadi poem (voiced over in English) with vignettes of a woman in situations related to the words, or meant to relate to the words. The perfume image at the end is jarring. It's a very poetic piece. Commercialism, the arts, the twenty-first century: whose product placement is whose here? The film.

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