Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cicadas and slumberlust

A flash of sunlight through a wing, a glimpse of glint among the leaves. The heat-spurred chorus of the cicadas pushes past my headphones – music pours into my ears, but the insects flood the stream. The heavy blanket of summer malaise dampens our shoulders and our desires to do much of anything but muddle through until fall.

Here we are: sweat-drained bodies on sodden bed sheets, limp smiles under umbrellas-turned-timpani drums as the monsoon breaks overhead, foreheads never wanting for company with a constant spackling of damp hair. A months-long longing for sleep in the maddeningly inescapable humidity as we wring out a little oxygen from water we breathe.

Through this steamdank haze, an unassuming intensity leans in every so often, clearing its throat in the doorway and sending me flying. The feeling of stepping off a curb you didn’t know was there – that same reeling as if the world slipped out of reality for a moment and took you with it  and the ground, solid and unyielding, interrupts just as you realize you’re falling to meet it in the first place. These breaches through the mundane are basic truths that nonetheless jar me out of placid comfort:

I am very far away.

The people I love won't live forever; neither will I.

We all have a finite number of heartbeats.

The big things, like the little things, don't ultimately matter. Do they?

This season of cicadas and slumberlust offers a warning: In the cycle of song and death, some choose careful dormancy while others burn in passing brilliance. Both paths require sacrifice, and neither is without its unique resistance. Regardless of choice, time delivers us to the same end.

If I ever remember how to sleep - my hopes lay sooner in wine than in September - this strain of memento mori will make a terrible lullaby.

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