“I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” Hamlet
The world I see is not the world I know.
The world I see is dead. It ceased from the moment it shed its light like a snake shedding its skin, sending image after irrelevant image towards my eyes. The moment we see a thing, the thing in the state in which we saw it does not exist. It has changed. We are time travelers, looking ever backward. This is the limitation of seeing.
The world I know is a living place. It exists both before and after I perceive it. There are no befores and afters in Time. Time simply is. Any linearity is simply a construct.
Two of my children are home today. I haven’t seen them for most of the morning, but my living room is so messy that they may be within the reach of my arms and I would not know it. Anyone could be here right now – small animals, extra children, exiled world leaders. This is how we build kingdoms of limitless space: we allow the debris from the excesses of the world to spill around us, to loop around our feet again and again. We allow the universe to dimple and gather and fold. My messy house is not a result of my laziness: I am expanding space.
Yesterday, on my run, I slipped on a patch of ice, and flew. Time, of course is relative. Under the tyranny of a stopwatch, the time from step to wobble to launch to landing was, doubtless, less than a second. But really – really – it was longer than that. Time bent, looped and lengthened. Time ceased. There was only the sky. There was only the air. There was only a woman in flight.
My dog is alive, though part of her is dead. She has a benign tumor above her leg, the size of a large orange. It doesn’t hurt her, doesn’t slow her down, but it is dead at the center. It is a zombie tumor. The vet says, at her age, surgery would open up more problems than it will cause. The dead tissue has been, we believe, walled off inside of the tumor, and will likely not be the cause of her expiration. Indeed, at the ripe old age of almost-seventeen, she could be killed by any number of things. And so, she carries on her body, a talisman of death. It wobbles and quivers with each step. It draws the eye. It grins through her fur. “I am coming,” Death says. “I am coming. Indeed, I am already here.”
Yesterday, for my birthday, we put up the tree. My house smells of sap and snow and wood. We pressed the lights deep into the branches and they shine like stars. My daughter made an angel for the top. She curled a brightly printed paper into a cone for the dress, and carefully attached a serene, hand-drawn face with yellow braids.
“That angel looks like you,” I said.
“Of course it does,” she said.
“But she has no wings,” I said.
“Her wings are invisible,” she said. “Everyone’s wings are invisible. They are secret and no one knows they have them. Everyone is sad because they don’t know how to use their wings.”
“Do I have wings?” I asked.
“Of course,” she said. “But you use yours all the time.”
“What are they made of?” I asked. “Skin? Hair? Feathers?”
“No,” she said. “You’d be able to see them if they were. Your wings are made of sky. Everyone’s wings are made of sky.” She looked at me as if I was the silliest person she’d ever met. “It’s obvious, really.”