It’s hard for me to believe, after around 7 months, I am calling Los Angeles ‘home’ after being back ‘home’ in Colorado… and it’s even harder to believe that ‘home,’ to me, has transcended the constrictive walls of my original definition. I wandered the streets of Ouray on Christmas night… the only one moving at the hour of 2:00 am, where I would have been one of many stirring souls in Los Angeles at the same hour. I feel as if I awoke from a dream; when I was in Ouray, I couldn’t decide if it really felt like forever or simply yesterday I crossed paths with the frequenters of my familiar town. Upon returning to the bustling streets of Los Angeles, it felt like my definition of ‘home’, begin to dissipate all the more. It’s now, in the beginnings of this new year, that I realize how much our world is ruled by definition, and how truly empty those definitions are; a label we place on something to fit it into the slot of our understanding, a measurable reference point… thinking if we only ‘understood’… then maybe… just maybe… we wouldn’t fear it.
In my time of being in Ouray, I remember spending one interval of time, which lasted a little less than a five minutes, with my grandmother in the kitchen. In that exchange, I felt something shift, and I grabbed her hand and wept. She said something to me that hit me beyond the profoundness found merely in words. She said, “We won’t be apart. We have eternity.” There have been a handful of moments where I felt every part of me moving that I could only hold still; me, as in the terms of who I am contained in this body, moving, but me, as in what others see, feeling completely paralyzed. At that very collision, tears erupted; like a reaction to my body not catching up with the ‘me’ it contains. It’s in moments like this that I feel a sense of closeness beyond measurable, tangible, physical distance. We are all desperately trying to push past the boundaries of our shells of bone and tissue to have a closeness with one another of heart and soul… and sufficiently love through a love that is simply insufficient. Our levels of expression cannot be accurately leveled at their most expressed states; they rest inaudible, unexpressed, ineffable; vestigial particles desperately attempting to form something beyond their capabilities. Yet, for some of us, we attempt…and attempt… and keep attempting. These attempts grow from inspiration to pursue something beyond what is perceptible to the senses; to create a bridge of communication and understanding. Then something beautiful happens; words are formed… music is formed… art is formed….interaction is formed… life is formed… and they are all expressing something beyond what could be defined, it’s beyond labels… beyond. There are those who communicate about their art, and then there are those who create art to communicate; trying to break what seems as fragile as an eggshell at times, but, other times, a dense enclosure; the container, the body, keeping us living in this world, yet the biggest obstacle within it. It’s a sort of frustration, a growing pain, that can drive us to become inspired and into imaginative creativity. The word “Inspiration” translates to “breathed upon”; we realize that what we are doing is more than conjuring up a firing of one neuron to another, causing muscles to move a paintbrush, to bring vocal cords together and sound… we are creating, we are breathing into something; breathing beyond the physical definition of breathing… communicating beyond words. It’s a realization that our means of traditional communication in our physical bodies cannot catch up to the metaphysical reality of who we are beyond them. Oh, but when that barrier is broken, between ‘me’ and me; like traveling at such high speeds and breaking the sound barrier, that’s where one breaks the label barrier.
Lack of physical proximity often becomes a place of longing, determined by time and how long we stay around the presence of another person before packing up again. Yet, five minutes of irreplaceable interaction between souls becomes more valuable than years of proximal company of bodies on a map. Even the definition of ‘company’ begins to rearrange its structure; is company standing by someone? I’ll place myself here, and you there… a measurable distance away from me. Or is it the closeness that crosses beyond the measurable, the definable, to something more? Could we never be apart?
Definitions take rule over this world. ‘Home’ becomes a place our physical bodies stake their claim of residency on a map, yet many don’t ever have that feeling of ‘belonging’ somewhere. We venture away from home to try to find home. We define time to tell us when to begin resolutions, yet we pass the time to forget that time passes. We work to make an income in order to live, but our work consumes our lives. We desperately try to document our lives through social media, and let it consume us from really living. Often we condemn others because we see our own blemished faults reflected in the most innocent mirrors of their souls. We can become so consumed in the concept of being free, that we can become caged and enslaved by our own freedom; becoming stagnant because we are free to choose stagnancy. Then, what’s more, we become caged in rage because we are angry about our lack of freedom… creating the very entrapment from the very thing we struggle to protect. This is our attempts at social survival. You can find it all, readily available, like a sort of unspokenly over-spoken “handbook” which seems to have the most authors you’ll encounter in the everyday, but with the need to ‘survive’ overshadowing oxymoronic undertones taking presidence over truth. ‘Who you are in relation to me,’ takes priority over truth, leaving everything we do subject to another person’s interpretation. Interpreting and defining, whether consciously or subconsciously, leaves even the most heartfelt of pursuits malleable clay in the minds of our everyday interpreters. We say one thing, it enters the ears of our peers, translated through the vast factory of their personal and past experiences, and can become processed, instead of the original, raw, pure state in which we intended to delivery it. Sometimes our very lives speak louder than truth. Social echo-location reigns over real communication; it’s a process where we say something to bounce it off the environment of someone’s being, their soul, letting what we sound return to us, and gaining back information as to the shape of it, how we can navigate in our interactions with this person. Though this can be basic interaction, such feedback can cause us to alter our true selves to maintain communication, or take on the form of an attack, leaving another in beleaguered ruin in our attempts to assert a false identity and a higher position over them within the social food chain. We perform all of these things to desperately claw our way out of the pit of our own existence. It’s when the true parts of our beings become sacrificed in order to survive that our very definition of ourselves becomes skewed. If we do not know who we truly are, it’s at that moment that even such utterances of “love” can lose their true purpose. Love does not say, “I love you, do you love me too?” Our utterances can be empty; taking on the form of a social Geiger counter, looking for readings to affirm who we are… or who we think we are… rather than a testament of truth. There is no need to define love based on the feedback we receive from the recipient of such words… it’s simply, “I love you.” Such love is immeasurable. Yet, we, as people, continue to attempt and measure, and succumb to the rule of strictly definition.
So, what lies beyond the label of ‘home’? What lies beyond the label of ‘me’? What are the lies that lie beyond the truth of me? What do I expect to accomplish when everything I could ever want to express through love falls to the wayside as insufficient? Why do I feel that every inch of measurable, definable space around me, even between Colorado and California for that matter, is not really home?
I came to California 7, almost 8, months ago to simply deliver forged wedding rings, which, in and of themselves are elements spanning past definition. Even rings hold more than what they are defined to be be, or, rather, what they are ‘seen’ to be when placed within the context of their purpose as wedding rings. Does placing wedding rings on two people’s fingers make them married? Does the absence of a wedding ring, after marriage, make one not married? The wedding rings themselves are not what makes a marriage or not, but are the elements which makes such unity definable to the realm of our physical reality. Therefore, the very thing that started a journey in my life was the creation of something tangible to bring definition to a bond, and a unity, that would have remained present even without it. Marriage is the concept, but rings are that definable ‘proof’ of its existence.
The tangible can be a beautiful thing; in making the rings, I realized that the process of forging them was so symbolic of what they represented; down to the very fact that the stone of the ring was a sapphire, a stone able to resist immense heat without breaking. The ring itself is connected without ceasing, is infinite in its structure; without beginning or end… and represents a unity that is so very present in what should be, in an ideal situation, within a marriage. Our bodies are examples of such tangible beauty. At the roots of our very composition, we find relationship thrives in our bodies: bones and muscles work together to bring movement within a body; and this very unity thrives within our very function. Of course, such symbolism is based on perception, in and of itself, but maybe its integrated in us to live a certain way that accepts things for how they are most commonly defined, how they appear, or how they are measured… and not see beyond such labels. Creative imagination, in and of itself, has no precursors, and cannot be measured. It’s the anatomy of ourselves that makes us tangible to the world, but the anatomy of who we are inside of these vessels is what spans beyond the notes of even the most brilliant of psychologists; its beyond measurements.
In much the same way, our world needs something tangible to see, touch, or interact with, in some form or another, in order for us to define it for what it is, or even what it isn’t. ‘Home’, by my own definition, is not just a place of measurable placement, where our bodies are pinned on this world map. I could be in Ouray, or Los Angeles, and not be ‘home’… they are tangible, physical environments in which I can interact, but ‘home’ goes beyond the physical environment. I say all of this not as a pitiful cry to find more than a mediocre mondanity in my surroundings, I say it because I believe there is much more, far past our definitions of the seemingly obvious, definable, physical world.
We go about basic human interaction everyday with our interpreting antennae in the anthill of our society. However, the fallible nature of the world also comes from the compulsive need to define and categorize our surroundings in order to establish a hierarchy; a scale system we use to place ourselves within in order to find our place, our home, our identity. When something does not fit within this self-invented hierarchy, something that surpasses our understanding, a desperate need to categorize can take over, welcoming alterations of a piece just so it will fit in a puzzle… even if it’s in a place unintended for that particular piece to fit. In this way, many will take a Vermeer and turn it into a Polluck; painting over something’s intention, something’s identity, to make it understandable, to make it definable. Suddenly, many find themselves wearing the facade of another character in order to even function within the puzzling placements of their environments. People will carry the character of who they are, along with the reality of who they are, like wearing a mask to fit in with the grand masquerade of the day-to-day; It’s not about who you really are, it’s the tangibility of it; what people see, hear, touch, etc. This is why this world has been consumed with appearances of all kinds rather than letting the real person they carry be known; it would be a real ‘shame’ to live as who we are, and change the taxonomy beyond tangibility.
Even as I sit here: location: Universal City, Los Angeles, sipping my green tea, text hangs on the tag attached to the string of the tea bag, a quote from Henri Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1908) whom I recognized as the French Post-Impressionist artist… not appreciated for his art until after his death. The quote simply states:
“I shut my eyes in order to see.”
Such a quote delves into the depths of this concept; that there is more than one way to ‘see’ past our senses; to ‘see’ with merely our eyes… that is the physical definition… there is something past our eyes, past time, past placement. When we stop categorizing, and we break past the label barrier, breaking through the walls of our mere, measurable knowledge and every one of our senses, there is a beauty beyond it. As we break through it, we find who we are at the most pure form of our identity; we find a truth in what was always there rather than obtaining a facade through something definable. We find love beyond the seen… beyond the touchable… beyond the audible… beyond every phonemic syllable of even the most eloquent words… beyond these tangible forms, these bodies, these vessels… just as we find home beyond these bodies’ tangible placements. If the very definition of “home” rearranges its structure, then we can see that we can live, breath, and even carry this place. Just as our physical bodies are mere vessels of our true selves, everything we create are vessels ready to be ‘breathed upon.’ We carry ‘home’ like a supernatural atmosphere that bridges into the physical atmosphere, capable of transforming it. It then becomes apparent that, if we live in that place, we can breath from it, and ‘breath upon’ whatever we create. Suddenly, that breath, that life, is integrated into our words, our music, our art as they become vessels, crossing into our physical reality and carrying cargo from beyond its bounds. We live, we breath, beyond just our bodies. We go past everything temporal, and we find something that exceeds it.
To experience the physical part of interactions that my body can contain through its five senses was one thing; even being in the physical environment of Ouray, hugging my family, and grasping my grandmother’s hand were all part of bridging that gap of a once proximity separation, but there is so much more than that. What is at the roots of such interaction is deeper than just those bridges of touch, sight, and any of the senses. It’s that love. It’s that we have eternity because such love knows no bounds of this realm… that it reaches beyond our very definitions… that it’s something immeasurable, enduring, immutable, even existing outside the relation of time and physical placement.
Often, we try to take something spanning past the physical, and make it fit within the labels of our understanding. It’s then that the temporal elements attempt to take rule over something so absolutely, metaphysically eternal. We see Love… we see The Eternal… we even see God. If God is Love, and God goes beyond measurable definition, then I want to live in a Love that transcends what my love can offer this world; I want to live in a place beyond this world; beyond definable, measurable, interpretable, containable, insufficient… beyond feared. I don’t want to just live by the definition of this world; existing through my breath alone, I want to live to ‘breath upon’… I want to live ‘breathed upon.’
That place: Home… is more than a place where this body of mine meets a body of land, its beyond tangible form; transcendent… a reality beyond what is perceptible to the feedback of the physical senses. It is beyond definition. It is eternal.
Love is an action. Love is a noun. Love is a place.
Love is that eternal home.
We will never be apart.
I am home.
I love you…this is incredible. The Gospel at its finest.
February 1, 2013 at 4:18 am
Love you too!
February 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm
Your mastery of language and concept is lofty as ever, Zina! Looking forward to the day our paths cross again, and happy that you find yourself home in so many senses. 🙂
February 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Thank you so much, Brian! I miss you terribly! I was just thinking about the last time our paths crossed, and what a heartache it was to disperse again. So glad we have a friendship that transcends distance 🙂 I hope we can meet again soon!
February 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm