I just arrived home from a film called, “The Mermaid.” The half-empty bottle of Guinness and the promise of five more prompt me to write.
No, not just the alcohol, but it helps. The beer is my dinner tonight. It’s full of iron, supposedly has less calories than skim milk, doesn’t leave me bloated or hungover the next day, and gives me a pleasant buzz. What more do you want from a meal?
No, what prompts me to write is the little girl in the movie. I guess it’s the way she smiles at us, from death, at the end of the movie. Maybe her carefree, innocent attitude and reaction toward a tragic and mournful fate.
Yes, that’s it. It must be her innocence. What do you call it? I don’t know what else to call it. Naivete? It’s like the world surprises her constantly. Its cruelty is new to her. She doesn’t make her own destiny and seems maliciously and carelessly tossed about like a drowning man pulled toward a waterfall by the powerful white and forceful rapids of a dangerous river.
At the same time– and perhaps it’s in her own head– when truly pushed to the corner, for a moment, and in her own little space and influence, perhaps when the malicious world around her isn’t paying attention, she gently manipulates and influences the forceful and non-stop flow of action and consequence in directions she wants until it closes up around her.
Day, it seems, or at least a long pause from the solitude of night, puts and end to her sculpture.
Or perhaps she tires. Perhaps it’s the push of the will of the millions of other denizens of Moscow recklessly and unheedingly clamoring, struggling, pushing, and shoving to carve out their own slice of material possession and comfort.
I feel a lot like her: a child, buffetted about by forces that always surprise me.
No, I don’t just feel a lot like her. Watching the movie evokes -exactly- how I feel in those quiet moments when I have a chance to pause and breathe and realize I’m alive.
When I stop wanting and searching and stealing and carving and desiring and worrying and hating and commenting and talking I feel. Just. Like. That.
At my age it’s the best I can do to hold on to this feeling for a few hours, let alone cast all aside and live that way.
Maybe were I a gangly, ugly 14-year-old living in post-Soviet Moscow, forced into a badly run economy still unable to let go of its reeking ruins of corruption.
Maybe not (shelter does has its drawbacks, you know).
Maybe that’s why her death isn’t so sad after all. It’s sad that it happened when she was feeling happy, confident, and in love.
It’s also probably for the best. The world couldn’t really offer her much except the promise of corruption and a drawn-out death of endless and dead-end employment by those in power.
It’s probably best we get to keep her as that snapshot of that child-like happiness and purity that I feel sometimes, that I’m able to achieve when I cast aside all pretenses.
That snapshot, her dreams, are where I’d like to live all the time.