A resting delay

On Friday February 18th Littoral Listening #3: Rest, was postponed.

Postpone: to defer to a future moment

Even the most warm, worthy, and welcoming discussions require water and that day water was in short supply. In a future moment the water would return; it was the speed of return that was uncertain. This discussion too will return, perhaps in the next season of calm, when rest will slip gently in, or in the next season of calamity, when it feels impossible that calm shares its letters.

“I saw a world in which the sun and the moon shone at the same time,” begins the passage we would have read together from Jamaica Kincaid’s story At the bottom of the river. “Together, they made up the light, and the light fell on everything, and everything seemed transparent, as if the light went through each thing, so that nothing could be hidden.”

Recently I was reminded of an idea from our last gathering, that we cannot see light unless it falls onto something. It has since been brought to my attention that similarly, we cannot see anything unless light shines upon it. “The light shone and shone and fell and fell, but there were no shadows.” When there are no shadows there is no rest. Seeing everything, hearing everything, feeling everything all of the time, always, is too much for any of us.

In this world of shining light and no shadows, there was, however, a sea. “I entered the sea. The sea was without color, and it was without anything I had known before. It was still, having no currents. It was warm as freshly spilled blood, and I moved through it as if I had always done so, as if it were a perfectly natural element to me. I moved through the deep caverns, but they were without darkness and sudden shifts and turns. … Nothing lived here. No plant grew here, no huge sharp-toothed creature with ancestral memory of hunter and prey searching for food, no sudden shift of wind to disturb the water.” Growth and rest need each other, as do light and shadow, past and future, land and sea.

Emerging from the sea, the speaker looses track of themself: “I had no name for the thing I had become. … I stood as if I was a prism, many-sided and transparent, refracting and reflecting light as it reached me, light that never could be destroyed.” Overwhelmed, they emerge from their pit, “the one to which I have consigned all my deeds that I care not to reveal,” stepping into a simple room full of perishable and transient matter. Though it is not stated outright, I suspect this matter casts shadows. I suspect the sun and moon take turns, that there is darkness among the light, and that the collection of somethings, perishable as they may be, rest and are rested according to need and whim.

“I covet the rocks and mountains their silence,” shares the speaker in transition back to a world in which shadows exist, in which rest is possible, in which to postpone is an option.

Thank you to those who check in and allowed for this moment to be one of shadow and replenishment. May we listen together soon.

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