Friday, March 21, 2008

The Unbearable Suffrage of Lucidity

A friend and I recently had a long email discussion about words and feelings, intellectual honesty and the unanticipated perceptions of others re: our writing. In the end we agreed to disagree about certain issues.

“You’re a Verizon and I’m a Sony,” I told him. “We’re just wired differently. Doesn’t mean we can’t connect, on some level.”

And then he said a curious thing. He admitted that he sometimes "suffers from lucidity. "

Now why would that cause anyone to suffer? To be lucid is to be suffused with light, have full use of one’s faculties, clearly understand something--to be in a state to be able to perceive the truth of something directly and instantaneously.[1]

This friend often encourages me to write, even when I sometimes don’t want to. Sometimes he gives me odd assignments, like during the 2006 World Cup soccer games, he said to watch a particular match and write a poem about it. Talk about challenging! I’m not a spectator sportswatcher though I like the game of soccer. He gave me three days to come up with a poem.

So I sat there, glued to the television set, pen in hand, waiting for inspiration to knock. It was raining and the field was muddy, the players were soaked. Their wet hair dripped, they brushed the rain out of their eyes, it was a mess. A sea of fans in the bleachers, all wearing red, simultaneously waved and undulated to shouts of victory for the underdog team. The sound, the movement, the colors, the tension, the rain, the whole atmosphere formed an impressionable image that spoke to me, and the words slowly trickled from my head to my pen. I drew a parallel between what was going on in that soccer game and an event that had taken place earlier that week in Iraq. I later sent the poem out and somebody actually published it. So I am grateful to my friend for sometimes urging me to push the envelope, so to speak, to get out of the box of self-limitation and find, in a contemporary event, the link to something bigger, something universal.

Anyway, when I commented on the weirdity of the idea of lucidity being burdensome, and said maybe I would write a poem about it, he said: Yeah, do it.

Well perhaps it’s not all that weird, come to think of it. How many times do we know something we would prefer not to know? (Ignorance is bliss, and all that.) Or maybe it’s sometimes a question of quantity, like with information overflow. Too much truth can sometimes wear you down. (Not that I would choose ignorance over knowing.) I’m just saying, sometimes it can just get a bit... heavy.

I think that’s what he meant by the suffering part of it. Sometimes you just want to turn it all off and go blank, go to an empty space where everything disappears and you can mentally breathe again. So the suffrage of lucidity can be looked at from many different angles. Now if I were to write a poem about that, how would it go?


I understand what this all means but not my part in it.
Everyone’s got an opinion; the more articulate of them
form schools of thought whose theories we accept,
reject, or are simply unaware of.
Who cares.

Life is like a playground filled with pretty toys
Sorrows, joys,
fun-filled rides and crushing tides
and everyone sometimes thinks about it, talks about it,
maybe even obsesses over it
(or just plain doesn’t give a damn).

We judge one another, call a man “brother”,
betray our friends, sit at the bed of a dying loved one,
trudge off to war, hide from ourselves, hug our children
like there's no tomorrow.
We know what we know, we fear what we don’t,
and sometimes our little boat capsizes,
hurtling us into the murky waters of

The flow of fluidity, jammed by stupidity,
rescued by hope. Things go off course,
nothing is as it seems, nightmares mix with dreams,
a kaleidoscope of perception, and …
there’s no key.

Sweet clarity, when the swirling subsides,
when you finally understand
or think you understand
even as you sense that it may not be the all of it--
that you may die and never know
the All of it.
But that’s okay.
It really is.
You’ll see.

-- Annie Wyndham (my pen name)

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