"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
(First of all, a quick note. I chose not to participate in this week's Blogger Idol. The topic was "Blogger tips," which is a good topic, but a nuts and bolts one. My life this past week has been anything but nuts and bolts in nature, and I felt I could not do the topic justice at this time. I'll be back next week.)
curse Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English curs, from Old English
1 : a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one
2 : something that is cursed or accursed
3 : evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to imprecation or as retribution
4 : a cause of great harm or misfortune
5 : what some of us carry through our daily lives
He stands on the shore of the sea, and his long white hair whips in the cold wind like a thousand angry strands of silk.
His skin is as white as bone, and his eyes are as crimson as blood. His thin face stares with a resolve born out of desperate times and impossible struggles, and with a despair birthed from dark roads leading to a darker future.
There is something inhuman about his coldness, which is well and proper because he is not human. He is Melnibonean. He wears the jet black armor of Melnibone, and it is dented and torn from many fierce battles, one of which just finished.
The wind gusts again, and little spatters of blood on the armor streak and dry. Not Melnibonean blood, but human blood. Elric of Melnibone seldom bled.
At his side hangs a massive black sword. The curse of this blade is almost palpable. The man who carries it carries a great burden.
The sword is named Stormbringer, the Stealer of Souls.
I lay down the book. It is 1977, and for the first time in my life I have read a book from cover to cover in one continuous sitting, not even getting up for a meal or a cigarette. And something in this book, this character, touched me.
Within a year I had devoured not only the entire set of six Elric novels that were available then, but every other thing that had ever been written by the author, Michael Moorcock. They were hardly New York Times bestseller list material, and even for "sword and sorcery" books they were not all that well written. But the characters, the heroes...
Now there was something I could get into.
These were not the fancy noble Rangers of Tolkien's Numinor. They were not the chivalrous knights of the King Arthur cycles. No, these heroes were flawed and trapped in circumstances, and usually had to make incredibly difficult choices that haunted them until they died.
And sometimes even beyond.
I have always felt that things we choose, things we do, have long lasting ramifications. And many important choices simply don't have a win/win scenario, but rather they cause us to weigh one loss against another. The Elric stories, and the others like them, fed those beliefs.
In the intervening years I have added a key facet to these beliefs. I am now a Christian, and this changes things a bit. But not as much as it might appear.
As a Christian, I am forgiven for my sins. This does not, however, mean that I won't pay a penalty for them while I am here. Jesus forgave the sins of the man on the cross, but the man still died on the cross.
So yes, things that we do can haunt us later, and choices we make can demand horrific prices down the road.
The moment I described in the Elric saga above comes from the middle of the tale. What I did not mention was that by this time in the story, the country of Melnibone had been destroyed and all of the Melniboneans except Elric had been put to the sword, and it was his doing.
At the time, it seemed like the right choice.
So, where am I going with all of this?
Things are so intense for me right now, the stress level so high. I broke down weeping on my way home from work one day last week. It just seems so hopeless sometimes.
It is like I have my own personal Stormbringer hanging at my side, hungering to destroy everything it can touch.
I can't help but wonder why I am in the midst of this turmoil right now. Nothing happens by accident to a Christian. There is always a reason. Sometimes it is our own shortcomings. Other times the reason may be that God wants us to grow, and stresses us to bring that about.
Which one this is, I have no idea.
In the meantime, I stand on the shore of the sea, with the cold wind whipping through my hair.
I have found power in the mysteries of thought,
exaltation in the changing of the Muses;
I have been versed in the reasonings of men;
but Fate is stronger than anything I have known.
Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC), Alcestis, 438 B.C.