Sunday, March 19, 2006

Braving the elements

36 degrees.

This is the kind of weather that makes optimists of us, that sends us out into the cold in our T-shirts and spring jackets, woefully underdressed, and proud of it. As though the Winter were nothing more than a failure of our collective will. As though the day's coldness was the result of our lack of imagination.

There is something heroic about this, even though, like all heroic acts, it is also naive. It is, after all, this instinct for resistance, for defiance, for risking ourselves without concern for the odds or thought for consequences that, above all, makes us human. The instinct for self-preservation may help us survive, but it is this innate willingness to test the limits that makes us live.

Ah, the vanity of complaining about the weather. As though the Universe would ever consent to such dialogue, as though the wind truly cared whether or not we were comfortable. It is ridiculous, if you think about it, that we still believe in fairness, when the truth is that justice is nothing more than a thought experiment, a dramatic contrivance run amok, a conspiracy that Nature will take no part in. We cannot fight Nature with non-violence, with the purity of our suffering in protest, because she does not care. 'She' is not even a person, not even a mind.

This is an idea that we cannot stand for long. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality. John Donne writes: "Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?" and four centuries later we still share in his sense of outrage. Better that we should suffer more and the suffering have meaning, than that we keep ourselves safe, but to no purpose. This is why we need to believe in the gods - not to trust in, but to defy.

Coming in from the coffee shop, my hands are raw with the cold. I should have worn gloves, I know. I should have worn a scarf and a hat and woolen socks and a sweater. But a part of me is proud that I resisted. A part of me feels that I have struck a blow for the coming season, that in some small, unnoticed way I have helped bring the world closer to Spring. That when the warmth finally comes, I shall somehow have deserved it.

I stare at my reddened hands. What was it Faiz said? "Yehi daag the jo saja ke hum, sar-e-bazm-e-yaar chale gaye"[1]


[1] Translation: These are the stains that I wore proudly, all the way to my beloved's house.

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Nick Zegarac said...

The truth of any life is elusive - more so when one's finger tips are the color or ripe watermelon and one's nose has taken on the distinct palette of a bruised blueberry. Bundle up for the cold. Strip down for the heat. Tolerate them both, though...there is, after all, nothing else that one can do!

Tabula Rasa said...

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