The Gift


Life lets us know in subtle and unsubtle turns that we must be attentive to our innermost selves, or else we place ourselves and others in danger when we lose our way. That moment in which we are taught this lesson is dumb agony, ripe with tragic comedy, dripping with a depth that is ironic in its vacuity. We stand revealed in our humanity, bathed in blood, upset by regret but relieved by a renewed sense of a terrible divinity that somehow threads our solitary fragility back together again, humpty and hallowed.

All it takes is one spare moment of inattention for the glass to shatter on the precipice of the sink.

Such a simple act, imbued still with such force of meaning, unveiled only thereafter in the throbbing blood from the gaping wound. Reaching for the glass, the dishes done, already lost in anticipation of sitting on the couch with whiskey in hand–it was within that moment that darker forces aligned, necessarily, against me. For I had allowed myself to fall asleep while still awake. There is no greater crime against life than to deny its full terrible beauty and reside in unnatural complacency.

I was then reawakened, as the blood swelled out unstoppered by any pressure I could apply. It seemed silly, how frail and fragile my body really was. I was overwhelmed with annoyance, a deep frustration that now my shallow dream of a productive afternoon on the couch with a glass of whiskey and a netbook was ruptured. The reality of the swiftly ending spring break set in. The dark shadow of work, sleep deprivation, and high stress loomed like storm cloud guillotines above the one day that was left. There was no going back, now. I was bleeding too much to pretend that I could sit there staunching it with a paper towel forever. Fat globs of dark red blood, almost beautiful in surreal insistence, splattered out unerringly onto the kitchen floor.

But I also felt a sense of relief. Now I was awake again. And in a cosmic light, that could be seen as a gift. The 7 hours in a late night ER with criminals and crazy people, the stitches, and the pain were a small price to pay for that reminder of what life is about.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

9 thoughts on “The Gift”

  1. Sir, you are a poet. I cut myself and I curse like a sailor. When it happens in your world, you test the bounds of the English language. Well done. Next time we meet, we will have to fill a glass or two. What were you drinking?

  2. Poetry, smoetry–it sounds suicidal. Perhaps being a money grubbing materialist family man with a minimal weakness for introspection and only a few rough hewn sentimentalist inclinations is not so bad after all!

    But the drinking, and of course I mean the sipping of a fine whisky–especially a good bourbon, I can identify with, and endorse, most heartliy.

    1. BTW Bill, I may be wrong, but if you identify with the sipping of a fine whiskey, you may be more of a man inclined towards introspection than you think! ; )

  3. Bill, there are no suicidal tendencies being evinced here. Perhaps you should re-read it again. It’s about learning from a traumatic event how to better appreciate life’s gifts.

  4. Traumatic events, family tragedies, and personal failures, like spilt brandy, must be put behind, forgotten, so we can move on, ever thankful to Divine Providence and good luck, that we survived, and ever more appreciative for our blessings, for we are all blessed to be on this spectacular planet with all these other great people.

    That is why I do not see a “terrible beauty” to life but only the occasional brilliant wonderful beauty that comes with each new dawn. But then, I was taught to see the glass half-full, never to even think of it as half-empty!

  5. Traumatic events cannot simply be left behind like abandoned luggage. In order to move on, they must be felt, mourned and understood–not in any necrophilic sense, but solely in the effort to regain our mental and emotional stability–or else we are in danger of leaving a piece of our selves behind as well. Pain and struggle is the essence of strength and learning. We break down our muscles, literally shred them, in order to build them up. There is no dichotomy here, and I neither see a glass half-full nor half-empty. It is both, and both must be acknowledged. True beauty comes from a place of darkness, a diamond hewed from cutting experience. This is why I call it a “terrible beauty.”

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