Rocketman

Dusk settled over the Gulf of Thailand like a stoned haze on to a reclining hippy. As the sun warped the sky with vibrant peach and tangerine dreams, the clouds revelling in spectacular transient variations, people gathered mystically on the beachside and stared contemplatively out over meditative waves. I imagined that as one we one breathed in as the surf rolled up, paused with a brief mantra, and then exhaled, blowing them back into themselves.
Sunsets are wondrous things. They happen everyday, but no two are ever the same. Similar, yes, but always they set on an altered version of reality. The sunsets are similar, like the events that take place beneath them, but each in its own way will only ever happen once.
“Once, I had a dream about a beach,” I was saying to the bright-eyed blonde, Christine, who was dabbling at her mojito with a plastic straw. “There were dozens and dozens on people, all gathered up and down, stretching away into the distances. We were all staring out into the horizon, but I had forgotten why. I kept walking up and down, asking people what we were looking for, until I met a strange little fellow who said to me:
“We are waiting for Avaloketishvara, Chenzerig, Atisha, Manjushri, Vajrasattva, Shakyamuni, Vajrayogini, Je Tsong Khapa … He went on and on, a mantra of names and variations of names, but they were all the same person, all the same emanation but in different forms.”
“How did it end?”
“How do dreams ever end? I don’t remember, I think a nuclear bomb exploded. Yeah, that was it. A great flaming firey mushroom cloud erupted on the horizon, and everyone cheered.”
Christine laughed, her face igniting in flashy beauty and joy. I have always loved a laughing, smiling woman. Often I used the line on women that I found nothing more attractive than a smile. Anyone is beautiful if they are honestly and genuinely smiling. That’s a real beautiful thing.
“Dreams are beautiful things,” she went on. “Someone told me once that when recounting a dream, if you can’t remember all the details, you should just invent them, and they’d be just as valid. I guess because they all come – ideas and dreams and fiction – they all come from the same part of the brain. That weird subconscious incalculable ninety percent of our brain that we don’t use, as they say. I quite liked that, because who would ever know? They didn’t have that dream, they could never confirm or disconfirm it, so who’s to lose? I liked the idea so much that I even spent a time – whilst travelling – where I began to do the same for my own life. My real life. I’d meet people and tell them all manner of things, just because I could, and it entertained them, and me.”
In the moments she talked, I watched her face, studying the contours of eyebrow, cheek, lip, how they worked together to create a range of expressions that told most of the story. Here, I could see, was a person of great love, of some experience. Lines under the eyes betrayed late nights and drinking, but the skin was healthy and tanned, the teeth white and square, neat from an orthodontist’s training at a young age. Flailing hands emphasised statements and belied a theatrical background, and her voice swung around in a sing-song dance demanding to be taken as entertaining, as interesting, as worth being heard. At times, it shrilly broke, revealing the inner tension, or the excitement, she obviously felt in contact with another human being. As she began speaking, she would inhale sharply, through her teeth, as if worried she wouldn’t have enough breath in her lungs to get it all out in one go.
“What kind of things?”
“Oh, I don’t know. That I was raised by circus performers and lost my virginity to a clown at the age of fourteen. That I once lived in a garret in Paris with two poets who fought constantly over who would be my lover, then they fell in love with each other and dumped me. God, some of the elaborate yarns I’d weave! All to get a little attention. Pathetic really. The worst thing was, after you do that for a while, you start to erode what actually has happened in your life.
“I mean, all we are is a collection of stories and secrets that we carry around, exchanging with people for affirmations of what? Humanity? Trust? Compassion maybe. Empathy. Just that desire to feel understood, to compare experiences to others and say ‘yes!’ I too have experienced that emotion, that situation. The people we meet we rate on our rapport, on what stories we share, which secrets we hold back. We’re barely even aware of it as a process, but it’s constant, unrelenting.
“So if you start making those stories up, everything starts to get weird. If you’re not telling people real things that happened to you, you can slip into your own fantasy world. You can lose the plot completely. And everyone’s got to have a plot to their life. Something happening. A story arc.”
“Goals! Goals! Goals! Real achievements! Like a process, an aim, an ideology even. I’ve always thought that there was something more, something missing. Like in dreams, like they’re a piece of the puzzle, but written in a different language that we forget when we wake up. Maybe, once, all our lives were like those dreams. Like the dreams of animals.” I yelped like a frisky puppy, already feeling that thrill of mutual understanding. We were animated and engaged, connecting with eyes, gesturing with hands, lively and responsive, firing on all cylinders, tongues loosened by alcohol and gestures made emphatic through cigarette smoking.
At that moment, Them Belly Full came on the stereo and I couldn’t help but leap up and dance across the bar to the pile of mushroom canapés. I scooped up the tray, and sidestepping along to the music, returned with a waiter like flourish to serve them up to our little group.
I collected some baht from the willing, noting with interest how Christine watched Nadia select two and pass one to her. Ghandi was talking her and Yeoh’s ear off.
“You see, people are like planets! We’re all pulled into orbit by each other’s gravitational urge. Let me guess, you, you’re a Leo. That’s the Sun, you’re a social hub: flashy, glitzy, great at connecting social groups, at holding all the different people together. Whilst you and you, you’ve got to be water signs, Scorpios maybe. Scorpios are all about the emotional depths. They spend years trying to navigate the the the tides of their emotional urges. They are often overwhelmed! Compare them with Virgos, the superrational, superthoughtful, logical balance on the otherside of Libra, who falls into the middle. Anyway. Whatever. I digress. We’re all drawn to each other in the same way the planets are, looping and coiling around each other. Without one another, the whole thing falls apart and we’re just lonely, isolated comets in the void …”

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~ by mightyjahj on February 7, 2009.

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