I have these moments where I allow my irrationality to flow freely. I could ignore it, I think that I could, at least, but it’s so beautiful to allow oneself to disintegrate into a moment of irrational beauty and wonder. It can be terrifying at times, but it’s become an integral part of my creative method. I do so equally while sublimating the more confusing and difficult aspects of life, capturing those moments, the internal sensations of irrational experience and emotional processing, as well as while allowing myself to engage in magical thinking about the events that unfold around me. I record them and then I snap back to reality; I rationalize them, and I move forward. Here is one such instance.
I woke early on July 5th, 2020, and emerged from my room to silently gaze upon the full moon. There were few clouds in the sky and the stars shone brightly in contrast to night sky, still endarkened and prior to the impending sunrise, a sliver of blue on the horizon already beginning to hint at its arrival. Thus, coffee in hand, I made my way to the riverside, the one where I go to write, to sing, and where I often have seemingly enchanted experiences.
If you had only seen the water, the surface of the river upon which the rising sun was gently glowing—the light was very blue—you might have believed that it was raining. The silent pitter patter of raindrops could be seen blanketing the glassy veil masking the true culprits. Tiny little fish everywhere unseen and unheard cascading upwards as living raindrops puncturing the surface and creating ripples. All that could be heard was the faint hum of vehicles being drowned out by the harmonious chorus of songbirds circling me, flitting about in the branches, and welcoming the coming sun.
Moments later, a gentle breeze began to disrupt the surface and the wind upon the water began creating ridges, obscuring the placidity and replacing the blanket of tiny individual ripples. Everything was in movement. Then, suddenly, a tree behind which the sun was rising caught my eye. As a fang it jutted out, reflecting with stark contrast against the water. Thus, I found myself within the jaws of the dragon, excitingly beyond the known.
The vision of the fang was brief. The stark contrast lasted only for a brief moment before the sun began to brightly illuminate the world in a shimmering blinding dawn. Shadows and silhouettes began to disappear, becoming gradations of light and hues of color. Once risen, the sun became too bright to look upon. The morning was still very beautiful, though I thought to myself, “the harshness of the lighting is really ***king with my vibe.”
As I wrote those words I looked up and sensed a disturbance in the movement of the surface of the water on the other side of the river. “What could it be?”, I questioned. Had a fish caught hold of an object beneath the surface creating movement above? Was it a turtle? “Certainly, it must be a turtle”, I thought. I could see an object bobbing above the surface, moving against the current and creating an abnormally large wake. There was something about it that my brain continued to register as abnormal.
The sun rising to the right was so bright at that moment. It was as if it was occupying fifty times as much space. An aura of light extended beyond its pupil and it had begun to envelope the water as its mirror. There were two of them shining brightly upon us—source and reflection.
Then returning my gaze to where I had detected the strange disturbance, I continued to observe the strange movement, it began to grow closer, though still too far away to clearly discern what exactly it might be as it continued to move westward. Thus, I willed it to come to me and it immediately veered left, toward the shore, and southward directly toward me. It revealed itself to me then. It was a large snake, approximately three feet long and with its head above the water as its eel-like tail swished beneath the surface. Its brownish black body was slightly submerged and bore yellow markings. Then, as it approached the shore at my side it began to move more slowly. It apprehensively scanned its surroundings while hovering effortlessly. It was quite elegant, “terrifying and elegant”, I thought to myself.
Having made up its mind, the snake quickly approached a submerged branch and began to climb up into the tree, slowly wrapping its body around the branch, using its body to leverage a steady leap into an adjacent branch, and eventually coming to rest having found shelter in my shadow. It shocked me at first as my focus zoomed out from intense focus on the snake to assess the wider field, to discover where it had chosen to perch as its tongue flickered silently. Its body appeared green now and it exposed its yellow underbelly to me.
Thus, I sat upon the bench nearby in order to write; it was as if the being crawled up into me and through me entered the pages of my journal. As I rose upon completing the documentation of the event, I discovered that the snake had disappeared. Additionally, the light had shifted.
Thus, standing where I had been before writing, I projected a shadow in which the snake’s prior perch appeared to extend from my heart and into the light. That wasn’t all though; I analyzed where my shadow had been as I sat with my back to the snake while I wrote about our encounter. I held the book up against the sky where my head had been, discovering that it projected a shadow precisely to where the head of the snake had been before I captured him in memory and ink, before he slithered away freely to do whatever it is that snakes do. “The moment felt enchanted, quite special, mysterious, and, perhaps, it might be a riddle”, I thought to myself. Then I went about my day, continued writing, living, rationalizing, and admiring the beauty of our world.
In my novels these moments take on symbolic meaning. They’re not random nor are they independent of the stream of events that characters find themselves enmeshed within, struggling against currents that often feel as if they are beyond any individual, as if they are brahmanic forces, those that shape us. In A Light Within, for example, spirits of light and those of darker energies possess living beings to communicate with and to act upon and through living beings. It might not always be a snake, but I lived this and I can take it and make it my own. It’s like when I encountered the orchid mantis for the first time in 2012, but I was actually dreaming then.
Copyright: Thomas Christopher Elliott, 2020