Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kingdom of the Animals

Man Ray, Neck, ca. 1931
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

— William Butler Yeats, “A Drinking Song”

Human beings are animals.

Most of the time, most of us take this self-evident fact so much for granted that we entirely forget it. We forget that we are flesh and blood, sweat and skin, muscle and bone. We forget that we get tired, that we sicken, that we get hurt. That we die. Until one of those things happens to us, or to someone we are close to. Then the unavoidable reality of our animalness slaps us in the face with its wet, heavy truth. And the accompanying metallic tang of fear.

There is another time which reminds us, more gently and more pleasantly, that we live our lives chained to the world of flesh. This is the time we take time to spend with each other, to touch and feel the muscle and sinew beneath our loved ones’ skin. I am always surprised when I take a woman or a child into my arms; surprised once again—so many times, over so many years, yet always as if for the first time—at how soft and silky is the skin, how taut and supple and strong are the muscles quivering beneath. Surprised at the strength and durability of the fragile package containing the soul and personality of someone so precious to me I cannot imagine their absence. The absence I know, sooner or later, will come, no matter what I want or pray or can do.

Take time to embrace your loved ones, my friends. Feel their strength; feel their fragility. Smell their hair and their skin.

And rejoice in your beautiful despair.

© 2012 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.