Hard Truth

The truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

After a long and shady, meandering driveway of thought, spent looking at the tonal green and gray columns holding up the forest, and leaning one’s head out the window into the cool air admiring the canopy shyness, and hearing the reverberation of bird calls mixing and swirling about, after all that, the soul feels subdued.

And when the tires’ sounds are acknowledged more readily as approaching a destination, and the shade begins to give way to a little more light, the thoughts slowly turn from their protected and free woods to the house through which they must tour and discover. That empty house, at the end of the way, standing a stone monument neither beautiful or ugly but just truly there and not moving.

There the stone cold truth is founded in the earth of the mind. Viewed from above the road map of approach is disarming and ridiculous. Going farther and farther here and there for no apparent reason, no waterways or hillsides dictate its ramble. For the true purpose of the meandering is to soothe and prepare the gravel for your arrival. Shake and rake it out for clarity and comprehension.

Hearing every sound therefore in heightened awareness, and seeing the markings of the rain upon the stone walls and tender growth of weeds among the pebbles of the walkway, missing nothing with the senses. Then will the body approach and open the door. Knowing instinctively, obeying readily, the slow pace with which this fertile but fragile mind must proceed.

This is how I see my year. I have spent it on this long driveway. And now arrived I find it time to stop and get out and look around and discover true things deep in the woods that have existed all along. Facts. Facts and true things under and beneath and within moving and growing things. If I could just finally get to those true things and scrape off the moss, I can have clarity. I can have certainty. I can have direction. So, I pry up a little stone whose pretty edge is sticking out, and with my fingers I sweep away the dirt and green sticking to it. And I hold it in my hands as a tangible souvenir.

Objects which are at once more than one thing are a poet’s favorite. The more things an object can be, the better the word. However many nouns, verbs, adjectives, idioms, and images the name of an object can conjure equals exactly the power it exerts when read or spoken. Consider the ‘stone’. The consistent resilience and hardness a perfect antonym for the flesh of our hands. The appearance of solidity, a determined gradient of coloring, shape, texture, and weight. To our picking up and carrying, our handling and touching of it never seeming to alter it whatever. And yet we know that those greater powers do permeate the surface of the stone; the water seeps in and settles. Harsh edges are softened by the unrelenting liquid. And living things growing in and around can shove and dislodge the most stuck stones. Send them careening off a hillside after years of burial.

So it seems to me that the truth is much like stone. It is itself. It does not grow and breathe and change into another thing. But, through existence in the world it can be altered somewhat in how it looks, and how it feels to us, and the sizes of the pieces which we encounter, whether the stone facades of houses, or boulders in a landscape, or pebbles in our palms.

But here I stand on the threshold with this little one in hand. The flat walls and the wooden door open, I am back lit in the doorway by the sun that shines here on the house. The woods have not been allowed to creep too close. The hedgerow, a ring around. Baby trees and ancient ones and cedars and ground growth all playing together and clamoring at the edge for a glimpse at that light filling the open space that they would soon block if they ever managed to reach it.

Upon stepping in, can you feel them too?, I find the way laid like old streets in thick brown pavers. I can feel through my shoes how the tops of them are rounded and some edges and corners lifted up in some places. Not a floor to cover quickly.

And there my hands trace the bumpy walls, finding divets and patched places with my fingers. The weight of the smooth stone I picked up bouncing lightly in my pocket. Not all the house is vacant; here and there are signs of life. Tables and chairs and objects for collecting. A clock on the mantel, a plate on a stand, an upholstered chair musty and still. I keep walking.

Room to room the windows are large and light seems to come in from all directions at once. Not one perspective seems favored over another. I must consider them all valid in my syllogism.

In the dining room cupboard, a little away from the light of the windows, I open the door to a full set of china. Salad and bread and dinner plates. Berry and soup and serving bowls. Gravy boats and butter dishes, tea cups and saucers. Platters and covered casseroles. Here is evidence of living. The lovely pattern chosen and collected. Knife rests for the anniversary gift. Salt and pepper shakers in the stocking at Christmas. The white linen washed and pressed, the table set and ready for faces in smiles and scowls. Memories in sunshine and in snow.

I continue my tour and puzzled I wonder again at the direction of the light. How is it that the light seems to shine from so many windows? Where is the shadow of the afternoon that must descend? But here in the center of the house, in front of the stone steps to the bedrooms I find my explanation. Here I raise my eyes to the vaulted ceiling and find the sky. Crystal blue outlined in black shingles dangling, surrounded in rafters still holding, in plaster peeling and falling. This center passage destined for artificial light all its days is brilliant now with rays of happy sunshine. The destruction and passage of time on display like a sweet still life.

I can see myself as apart from it. There with my feet on the pavers, broken up now with the fallen ceiling and the weeds and young maples that have taken root in the small spaces between them. I see myself in silhouette looking up and down and all around and know that I am trying to discern that meaning which within all things is yearning to be cracked open and accepted.   I feel a little sorry for the picture reveals that she is just one pair of eyes and ears and mind and soul stumbling over the tumult of meaning and symbol to get to the truth. Repeatedly ushering away self-deception. Sorting out the still born doubt from the valid. Finding seeds of truth and waiting for them to grow big enough to be seen by the world as well.

As big as it seems, and as small as I feel, I can find my way through this illuminated house. I can take each premise, each observation, each thought, and consider it in the light which glows here inside. Making picturesque all the dust particles floating in the air. As if the rays are the sounds of strings and glowing things are the humming of good voices.

I will sing a little to myself as I sift, and prepare a dry place away from this hallway for when it rains. Avoiding the lie at all costs. With no concessions for maybe this, maybe that. No understanding for the overly justified. Only the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

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