Supernova

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

(As a preface, this story starts with a boy. It’s not really about the boy but it starts with one, as many stories do, whether we want them to or not. This boy isn’t the star of the story. A supernova, perhaps: dead light, travelling back in time to where I am now. But still, essentially, a vision of the past.)

– – –

So. There once was a boy. As strangers, we climbed a hill in a town a long way from here, but also overlooking the sea. We changed the lenses on his camera, adjusted the shutter speeds and attempted to control our visions of the smoky, grey sea below. We play-acted escape. Later, when we knew each other better and liked each other less, I told him that that day had shifted the ground beneath my feet. Now, I recognise that this was as much to do with my running as fast as I could from where I was stood as it was to do with his jolted appearance in my life. But then, I wanted him to know that this morning on the side of a cliff stood quite clearly in my mind as a defining day.

When he responded that he didn’t think the ground beneath his feet could be shaken like that any more, at the age of 21, it angered me deeply. There is nothing more frustrating than feeling for a person who cannot feel. But with this sadness also came the knowledge that I was deeply lucky to be able to let the world shake around me. In the years before and since that day I have, periodically, felt bitter about these tremors. The earthquakes that I can’t control and the sensitivity I feel to these shifts. Most people, I think, can accept the ripple of a seismic shift through their life. Some deal better with the aftershocks better than others, but most can at least let the change wash over them. (There I go mixing my metaphors again. Is this a supernova or an earthquake?) However, the chosen ability to hold tight with these tremors, and not budge and inch, is a sad thing indeed.

If there is a trick to weathering these storms he perhaps gave me the best advice: don’t forget in the dark what you learnt in the light.

If you can be shaken, it is true, that you can be shaken for better and for worse, but when it happens in the light, everything can be split open. Healed with vitamin D. The ability to be shaken open like that must be something I am grateful for, even in the dark, when I can’t see why it it’s happening, or which star has exploded.

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