BellaOnline Literary Review
Little Hoot by Christine Catalano

Table of Contents

Non Fiction

Shadows of the Mind

Richard Hartwell

The sun creeps down the wall, brick by brick, pushing shadows back into the earth, enlightening the day but not me. I am still left within the shadows of my mind, shadows of my own making, dark, sinister, expectant. There is still a chill left under my skin, a residual permafrost from earlier glacial epochs of the soulís misunderstanding. What makes this sun and this day think they can push back my self-inflicted darkness? Although it can serve no purpose, or at least no purpose beyond the momentary relief brought about by mental reflection, I believe I will continue to fondle the past for the enjoyment it brings to me and perhaps to others.

Although one lives life linearly, it is impossible to review oneís life merely as a biographic entry. Visual hopscotch, as a medium of presentation, seems to me the only viable method of review. I remember a sight or sound or taste or feeling or, more pronouncedly, a smell, and I am cast back among the shadows of my past. From one scene to the next I flit, based not upon context or theme, but rather upon the vagaries of seemingly inconsequential connections.

I listened last night for a moment to the birds of midnight, calling and courting a late May song. Most of spring had come and gone already and these happy few must have been among those still left unattached and unaccounted for, much like 2:00 a.m. denizens of a bar who settle for less, or are the less for which others settle after ďlast call,Ē much like myself. I doubt that birds think in terms of ďOh why am I still here?Ē or donít recall the name of the feathered frump on the bough next to them the morning after a berry bash, but it is an intriguing thought nonetheless. Perhaps I just like company. Not a few stories I have written based on these scenes and connections, and whenever I feel I have purged them from my memories, some small tic starts in and, uncontrollably, I am drawn back to the past like reviewing a film edited by a schizophrenic.

Most of the shadows are peeled off the wall now. It is beginning to ricochet the radiated heat from the sun, if not its emotional warmth; again, my personal connection. Iím not sure Iím even looking for warmth anymore. Perhaps only the cleansing heat of the desert would be enough to purge me of this frozen shell of self-pity.

While I accept and welcome the fact that all beings and all incidents are interconnected, it is sometimes very difficult to conceive of the positive benefits of some lives and some situations. I write this just after I have watched the cat, Alice, jumping in and out of the toy box my daughter, Jaime, inherited from Han after Hanís daughter, Annie, died; such a long litany of names and connections. To what purpose was Annieís life the way it was, encumbered by pain and dependency on others for the most basic of functions? Did her life serve to keep her disparate parents together? -- To make a charge of herself in order to occupy my own disabled daughterís idle hours reading to her? -- As a testable patient for new doctors to observe, diagnose and learn from at Loma Linda? -- Or merely to acquire and then relinquish a toy box to a friendís playful cat? A minimalist purpose at best!

Time is a murky application of geometry to psychology. Like a geometric ray, starting at a point definite in space and extending outward, linearly, indefinitely to infinity, time too must travel undisturbed, forward. But as we all know, such is not the case. Time folds and wraps back upon itself, crisscrosses its own axis of travel until the mind rebuses upon itself to duplicate in fancy what it couldnít play in fact. We have all encountered this duplicity of time; facts have lied to memory and the reality of recollection has subverted the truth of fact. Parallel lines of non-Euclidian duality cross and double-cross until the rug burns of personal myth form protective scars.

I guess there is something to be said for just living the good, rather than attempting to attain or obtain or explain the good! I think I know what is that good Ė that moral, that ethical, that purposeful Ė life we all seek, but how can I be certain that thoughtful selections do not conflict with those of someone else?

At the end of the day, on the opposite wall, shadows creep back up the wall, brick by brick, and I am left alone awaiting selection like the birds of midnight. Perhaps I should just go home alone.

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