Saturday, October 13, 2012

Other worlds

My father has an arsenal of adages and aphorisms (not to mention jokes, both naughty and nice) at his disposal.

Recently, two of his (my?) favorites came to mind: "a blind man picked up a hammer and saw," and, despite its probable lack of political correctness, "a deaf and dumb man picked up a wheel and spoke."

Such double entendres helped sharpen the mind, especially for a young person. They at least made me aware of the power (and ambiguity) of language. One had to listen to my father, not just hear him, and, because he is such a trickster at heart, one really has to watch him, not just see him.

Since Thursday evening, I've been without a voice. An upper respiratory infection has caused bronchitis, and the resulting convulsive coughing has strained my voice and vocal chords so much as to obliterate any sound above a whisper.

I awoke 2 a.m. on Friday panicked, hyperventilating even, once I realized the voice was completely gone: what if I needed to call for help?What if an intruder entered the room? Hypotheticals can damn the soul; the mind becomes one's worse enemy when the world of the "what if" is permitted to dominate rationality.

I've adjusted to my not-silent world, but my world in which I am not permitted a speaking role. It's oddly liberating: I can only be (many days have been bed-bound, with momentary bouts of that which I'd like to call energy punctuating this lumbering existence....bouts which have permitted me to finish grading exams for one class, and respond to some work emails).  But lacking a voice is, overall, very much imprisoning. And frightening.

{Update: cracks of a voice emerge again this late Saturday afternoon. Antibiotics are working.}

For several weeks I have had these photos, but lacked a conceptual hook on which to hang them. My voicelessness gave me such a hook.

For how many people around us look but do not see, or hear but do not listen, or speak but communicate nothing?

This spider web is virtually invisible, save for when the sun during one point in the afternoon shines upon it.

A few nights ago, I (in my infinite insomnia) went down to get a drink of water and saw this refection of the moon in a bowl of dirty water in the kitchen sink.

There is something special in those transitory moments when the world stands still: when it all comes down to a spider web floating in air,

or the moon caught in a bowl of water,

when we are suspended in the eye of the web,

 or when a mere metric movement of ours frees Earth's celestial partner from watery entrapment.