I Don’t Know What Heaven is…

…but it must have something to do with long, long runs in places like Central Park, the Tiergarten, along the Landwherkanal, and the Jardin du Tuileries. It probably has something, too, to do with pain au chocolate and croissants du beurre—not to mention maultausen and Tobi’s white asparagus. It probably has something to do with the squeals of those boys whose soccer ball got stuck in one of the poplars today, in the drifting up of the gaze of a reader lounging just off the main path and the man who shouted to me to Accelerez! Accelerez! I was, like, uh, Vous Accelerez buddy. I’m in my second hour here…

Heaven is probably in all the exchanges I keep having while running: a little monster (maybe 3 ans) leapt out at me all Lady Gaga-ing and growling, a handsome bloke saluted me, a beautiful lass brushed my face with a feather and blew me a kiss, a sex worker offered to get up to some business, a hardy, red-face woman beamed ear to ear to me as I passed and then, yes, it must even be in Mr. Speed-It-Up.

God probably didn’t put one of my favourite sculptures of all time, le fils de Cain, in my path when I was here a few years ago and again today just to demonstrate how unheavenly it is on the planet. He did place Rob Ford, that master of whitewash and our Toronto mayor, in my path to teach me perhaps about unheavenliness and patience.

Then, too, with a number of us suffering une malaise d’esprit these days the Universe let my friend, the poet of H20 and so much else, Marjorie Ryerson (who I had the privilege of meeting in Vermont), send on her talk on what spirit is and how it is revealed in Mahler’s 9th symphony—particularly the last four minutes. In her talk, she approached the topic of spirit with the critical rigorousness and light touch that only a Master could muster. I hope that she publishes it one day.

In her talk, she also mentioned the ‘absence’ as a marker between life and death. There is something there (spirit?) and then there is not. I’ve been digging deeper into Heidegger the last few weeks and finding much that is helpful in his concept of Dasein. ‘Dasein’ is the crossing of being into our world. It is not the event or the thing but rather the movement—the passage. Marjorie didn’t mention Heidegger (he is an old Nazi) but may be approaching a similar understanding of our relationship to ‘absence’.

Absence and gates (entrances/exits, beginnings/endings, crossings/transitions) have been in my dream life a lot and are playing an increasing role in the novel I am working on now. This absence thing coalesced in Vermont when The Odyssey kept rearing its head. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention to things rearing their heads. In that story, Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, has no purpose except to find out what happened to his father. His mission, if it is that, is to make sure his father returns and fulfills his mission. He, himself, has an absence of purpose. The narrator of this story I’m mucking around with finds a kindred spirit in Telemachus.

Absence and Heaven must, too, be in the wondering whether Vajdon will step off that plane at CDG, in the struggle to kill the Minotaur in me and to appreciate the fact that Sacre Coeur is at the end of my street. Maybe I’ll head up there to take in the night sky.

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~ by Thom on June 3, 2011.

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