N. ~ Journal Entry
An itch, perhaps, at the small of your neck, or maybe that sensation at the nook of one's ear when a whinging drone finds the exact pitch as to induce a shiver that spills from the ear out. Maybe it pulls at you like one of those tricks of the illusionist, something hidden unless you stop looking right at it. I expect that the physical expression may well vary from one individual to the next, much the way the stringent aroma of grilled liver might move one man to salivation while at once moving another to expulsion. Whether the physical manifestation be as direct as a crippling bilious attack, or be it as subtle as the lightest of ephemeral fingernails trailed along the small hairs of an arm, those among us who have placed the sensation do not thereafter mistake the source: it is the feeling of being watched.
Rather distinct from the brief look, a glance, or even the casual appreciation when one happens to wander across another's field of vision, being watched is a different thing. How can it but add to the burden one bears when another casts the full weight of their attention upon you? How much more so when multiple persons should each cast the weight of their gaze upon the same individual, and at the same time?! It is to no surprise that I have heard that it is not uncommon for performers, or even the great rhetoricians, to collapse from exhaustion from bearing the undivided attention of an entire crowd. To be fair, though, it is also said that the great rhetoricians usually manage to exhaust their audience first.
Claims of collapsing performers are hardly difficult for me to credit, indeed, it is the very same exhaustion that seems to bind my leaden bones with twine and threatens to drag my head down to rest here, near or even upon the very words I pen. How did I ever make it through a day, or a walk across the square, under such scrutiny? Even now I can feel their eyes as hooks, dragging me into the depths. Their eyes pierce my skin as though they seek to drain, through their voracious gaze, my very life itself.
In my self-indulgent prattle I forget that which drove me first to the empty page! I have discovered that which must be the very model from which Elysium itself was cast, a still grove of such idyllic beauty that I wager upon the hint, nay even the whisper of a hint of the surpassing grace of this quiet corner of our wood would the dolorus primo virus and his dear lady have forestalled their eviction, packed their torticutlery, and promptly headed west of their own accord.
Such indulgence has indeed been my wont of late, and has become, in fact, how I find myself so often for a walk through these woods. I have ever looked to the wood for a respite from the overblown trials of youth, but the comfortable warmth of the forest embrace has grown to be such a balm for my beleaguered soul. Sheltered from the hungry stares, the forest has become for me the only place where there is a chance for me to... Be. Or rather to not be, in as much as all the rest are concerned.
So a close moment, was my happening upon the grove. It might not have happened had not the chance wind's arousal of a ripple scattered that unique light of the forest and drew my eye. Twin giants stood sentinel, of such age as they had to be the pair from which all olive trees in all the worlds have their descent, and crossing their threshold I felt askew, unbalanced. It felt as if someone had removed all letters "E" from the world, and all our hard work to get here stood on a lean as our tower threatened to spill again and cast us back upon our very foundations.
Uneasy, I scratched every spot on my head, as much to reassure myself of its constance as to relieve any localized itch. A soft flip of wind graced the grove anew, shook polite with all the surrounding foliage, gave the pond a quick ruffle, and took his leave, abandoning me to the...
Serenity. No gazes, no longing, no soul deep sighs, or lustful leers. For the first time in my life, I was not on stage. It was a curious sort of non-feeling to which I could grow accustomed.
Forsooth! How could it nearly slip my mind that we, mother and I, were graced with a visit from the sightless seer today. Mother scarcely noticed, which is to say she took exactly as much notice as she did of any other thing that could not be filed under brook or stone. The unsighted played disinterest in our hospitality, but there was never a doubt in my mind that the wine sacks would be either empty or missing when he left. "If drinking is, then toasting must be! To full days and long nights! You know, as long as the boy knows not himself, hah!"
As far as crimes against public reasonability are concerned I rank the tendency of every half blown coot to claim himself a prophet as only slightly less contemptible than the tendency of every half drunk sot to consider themselves a comedian, and where the twain overlap festers a wound on the very soul of common decency. Who could trust some fool who can't even keep his sex straight? And this on the heels of the letter from my nephew, who has got that whole corner of the peninsula falling over themselves trying to lick the sandal of the Delphic Oracle. Ha. Says half the time he doesn't even bother listening to his supplicants, he just nods and bids them "Know Thyself" and all collapse in awe of his wisdom. Know thyself. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Even as I ask the question of myself, there is a hold in the corner of my mind where this afternoon's grove almost suggests itself as part of the solution, that maybe in the quiet absences I might hear my own song. Perhaps tomorrow I will find my way back, this time to stay a while and see if there might be a self for me to know, a tune for me to hear, all my own.
~ Journal Entry
Lately, I do fear my already tenuous grasp on reality slipping away like a cloud borne picture of a face ripped from recognition by the high wind. Through the woods, these same woods as I have walked these last 16 years with whom I am as familiar as a child with his only toy, as a mother hen with her only chick, as the wastrel with his only thought, through these woods, my own woods, today have I felt upon my shoulders and my steps a new weight, a veritable stare upon my very soul.
Laugh, if you will. It is not the breath of the forest. I am no wood-struck pip, no stranger to the untamed growth. Have I not walked these woods every day I have drawn breath, since indeed that day I did first manage to both draw breath and walk together, said feat happening on the very shoulders of this same wood, in fact! Speak not to me of creatures who come and go on the mist that pervades all the oldest stories of all the oldest woods in all the world. While I may not yet have the fullness of my manhood upon me, neither am I a child, and of the two I am closer to making a babe myself than I am to the weaning, so keep your child's tales for those children with tails to pull, for I'll none of it.
So I have been Observed, and even followed, by one whose woodcraft and wood-comfort exceeds my own, which is itself a frightful thought. It might be that I above all children of man am best equipped to recognize the event of my observation, and recognize it I did. No matter how I might wend or weave, I could no more spot my shade than I could evade it, and indeed by the evening fall it did seem as though the forest itself did mirror my own thoughts back upon me in the unrefined song of the forest's soul.
I made it not to my grove today. My grove. I am not so shaken by the afternoon that it escapes my notice how casual the phrase comes to my mind, and my pen, and testing it now, my lips. My grove. And mine is how I have come to consider it. The memory of the water haunted my dreams last night. From the edge of the grove where I rested, back against that worthy paragon of the olive, awash in calm, the water did seem as if aglow. As if the brash light of the afternoon, startled by the ease with which it slid into the crystalline clarity of what was really more of a pool than a pond, bestirred as it was by neither fish nor fowl, said light having run length of the pool and finding no purchase turned again and jumped right back out into the air.
Now, even now, I feel the call. Tomorrow I will return to this grove, my grove, and in that tranquility I might sip deep from the cup of life and learn what essential facts about my self as I can learn, and we shall see who has the right of it, my nephew or sightless shifter. Pity the confounding dyad or impudent wind sprite that might seek to divert me.