Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love at Nite







Yesterday the splendid rain began. In the afternoon the thunder boys rolled their stone wheel out of the northwest and a bank of violet grey clouds came rushing over the hill, dumping gushets and ricochets of hail. Dusty paths became the origins of rivers, and the trees, plants and vines in dandyland took on the rainforest look.

In the night was the best. I woke up in the deep dark to hear the rumblings of thunder near and far in the darkness, the steady drumming of a downpour on the roof. No matter how dry August may be now, there's enough water in the earth to see us through. I rolled over, luxuriously, in bed, and let my lulled descent back into sleep sweeten with sound of renewal, thinking very pleasant thoughts of that Riverman I mentioned in my last post.

There's a story that I like about rain. It seems that in times past humans lost sight of the fact that they are small parts in a bigger picture and became not only selfish but proud of it. The Orisa, personified forces of nature, as imagined by humans, were by this same distortion at odds with each other, and the world became disharmonious and full of nothing but strife and cruelty. No single mind can encompass the vast distances or content of the universe, and yet it is possible to imagine wholeness without limit, and this also has a name in Yoruba stories - Oludumare. It is understood that the realm of Oludumare is rather distant from the compartively microscopic one of earthly affairs. There is a great gulf between here and there.

I think it is rather wrongheaded to say that Oludumare, imagined as sustaining all things, was so petty as to levee drought as a punishment for the ignorance and lack of respect displayed by these people of the past ~ to follow the story at this point, we need only understand that the drought was a result of their bad behavior. Actions have consequences - Oludumare IS.
In time the drought became severe and humankind, on the verge of perishing, neglected to even imagine the Orisa, much less give them sustanance, until the entire system was in danger of complete collapse.

So the Orisa gathered in council to save the world. Everyone thought of themselves as being powerful, but when it came right down to it, none of the boasters had the nearly infinite power required to reach the far-off realm of Oludumare, whose all-encompassing existence, forgotten in self-absorbtion, they remembered when they got in trouble.

It was then that a strange and colorful bird volunteered to make the journey to Oludumare and beg for help. This was greeted with scepticism, which quickly ripened into outright scorn. How absurd! A mere bird! The Orisa are the Obas and Queens of the natural world! But as no one had a better idea, the bird took off, upward, flying into the infinity of space.

As this bird neared the outlandish glory of Oludumare's realm, the fabulous fires of the cosmos scorched the feathers of the bird until they were blackened and ragged. And even worse, the feathers on her head were burnt off entirely and the skin itself was blistered and scarred into a visage only a mother could love, and that not without effort.

And so it was that this bird landed in Oludumare's yard and begged for help for her children, by which she meant all living things, and of course she was right, we're all in this together. Oludumare saw that she was in rough shape, in fact her head looked horrible, and her entire aspect was pathetic in the extreme. But knowing all things, Oludumare also recognized that this being, who had taken the form of a bird, was herself a great Orisa, Oshun, the personification of Love itself, and this message, delivered as it was by a pure heart, alone had the power to cross the great gulf and move the heart of mighty Oludumare. Oludumare let Oshun return to the earth in the form of sweet water, falling as rain to renew and refresh her children. The hardened hearts were softened and harmony was restored, albeit in an ever precarious balance dependent on the real respect born of love.

The form of the bird remains as a reminder. It is the vulture, despised and reviled by ignorance ~ because its part of the meal of life is an humble portion, and because its looks may not appeal to those whose ideals of beauty are standardized. Love may take the form of a beautiful woman, or a beautiful man, blessing our nights with luxury and sensual delight. And Love may be imagined as sweet pure water, pouring forth to sustain and renew us. But it may also be concealed in a creature who finds life and love where others see only ugliness, despair, death, and decay.

The vulture flying in negative space in The Keeper video (see earlier post) is intended to evoke this story.

Love at Nite:

22 comments:

Happier said...
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Cathy said...

Just beautiful, Danny.

Thunderstorms are so cleansing, even with all the crud the raindrops carry in a big city. A few weeks ago I got caught in a downpour with no umbrella; once I was thoroughly soaked, it became a pleasure and I savored the walk home. We spend so much time and effort trying to fend off the natural world.

Dan Dutton said...

Awh shucks! Thanks! I'm being inspired by my sweetie these days, so the credit is deferred. I've wanted to tell this story since I first learned it, but today is the first time I've gotten it to come out in my own words.

Cathy said...

Well, thank him for us too. ;-}

Apifera Farm said...

I miss thunderstroms. We rarely have them, maybe a brief one once every few years.

Apifera Farm said...

Not to rush things, but the Apifera wedding charge would be negated for such a fine couple. Beach honeymoon.
Donkey ushers and usherettes-Since we certainly can't rust Cathy around an open bar....wink

Cathy said...

Oh, look who's talking! And it wasn't ME rifling the fridge for beers, ya know.

Lucia can be the flower girl!

Happier said...
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Kim said...

oh, doesn't writing reveal so much beyond the words!? The alchemy is lovely.

Happier said...
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Happier said...
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Apifera Farm said...

I really think Martyn should be flower girl.

Dan Dutton said...

Actually I think a completely pre-planned wedding should come as something of a relief ~ the shock will only last for a moment. By the time we're ready for our nuptuals, I'm sure that Martyn's barefooting & apron wearing will be 2nd nature & he'll make a superlative flowerchild. He can carry the petals in his apron pockets, no?
I'm not sure that the west coast can handle the outlandish guest list tho! - it may be what tips the San Andreas fault. Still, what a way to go. Well I'll admit I'm excited.

Good thing I made plenty of elderflower syrup for the cake!

Happier said...
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William said...

Cue the...

Oh, never mind.

William said...

Hey, that "splendid rain" coincided with the confirmation of water on Mars.

Coincidence? I think not.

Dan Dutton said...

Water on Mars is a great lead in for an upcoming blog - can't tell yet tho! Ya gotta watch making too much of coincidences - they are just that!

Happier said...
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Happier said...
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Dan Dutton said...

When I was in middle school I had a girlfriend that I went to the skating rink with every sat. nite. She was very intellectual, beautiful, and a lot of fun. The rink had a juke box & she would play her favorite song, which was The Joker by Steve Miller Band. I would play my favorite song, which was Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder. When I hear Higher Ground I always feel like I'm rolling.

It wasn't until later, when I was in high school, that I bought a Stevie Wonder album ~ which was Talking Book. That was a life changing record for me - I listened to it and it scared me. He was talking about things that I had no knowledge of - the history of race relations in the US - the problems of the inner city ghettos - I didn't know if he was pointing a finger at me or not, but I knew that his music was brilliant, true and beautiful - so I learned to sing every one of those songs. That was the first time that music scared me - I realized then that I didn't know as much about the world as I thought I did. And I realized that I wasn't interested so much in music that just mirrored what I thought.

Stevie really influenced how I learned to sing - he was the first singer outside my family that I emulated. Stevie sang:
"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain't the way."

He saw how the shallow linking of coincidences could mesmerize people into thinking they knew answers, had insights, when they were really being kept from seeing the real sources of the problems in their life.

I don't quite go as far as Picasso, who said that if a brushstroke accidentally made something look great, he rubbed it off and started over. Painting, for him, wasn't about serendipitous coincidences, it was about knowing how to paint. If something was going to happen in a painting, he intended to be the cause of it. You could interpret that as arrogance, or honesty. There's no question that as a painter, he made his mark.

I wouldn't dream of presuming what the universe is up to. Coincidences amuse me sometimes, but everything amuses me sometimes. Stravinsky, another musical hero of mine, said that to know the future, even what would happen in the next instant, would make life intolerable.

Happier said...
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Happier said...
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