I’ve had a preoccupation lately — especially when walking down the street listening to piano music — with imagining what it would be like to get shot in the chest. There’d be a jolt of impact, a hard jab that knocks the wind out of you. Then I’d drop to my knees, and everything surreal — people running and screaming, maybe a siren, or maybe no one notices at all, just a bird floats overhead in an ordinary sky on an ordinary sunny day. There’d be blood, and then I’d lie down and go to sleep.
I’ve also had a preoccupation — especially on these cold, still nights after a warm day, when spring waits for tomorrow – with thinking about love.
I’ve tried to dismiss it — clunky, overly-emotional collocation; cheap and melodramatic feeling. But I can’t. When I think about loving someone, I think about dying. I think about her dying and us dying and me dying for her. Carl Jung said something like, “Where there is light there is always a shadow.”
Death and love are the same this way: they are the only things I’m sure are true. They are, in a sense, the only things that exist. I don’t know why I’m alive, or if I’m always doing the right thing. I can’t ground my words to something immovable, or tell you much about cause and effect. (If in accuracy we only learn what we do not know, shouldn’t we exalt beauty?)
But I can tell you that my heart quivers and my stomach drops when I see her. And I can tell you about phone calls and funerals and he’s not coming back. And I think the only way to live fully is to give up what I can’t know, and to drop to my knees and worship what I do, and be vulnerable to it — love + death — to recognize their higher power.
And I think: for love to abandon me is for death to catch me — walking down the street, listening to piano music — with a shot to the chest.