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Friday, May 6, 2011

Ode to a Lemon

The other day I watched Harold and Maude again. I try to see this movie every couple of years to remind me to be free. Like the way one should trip on mushrooms every year to be reminded of how it is to see the world full of childlike magic. The trees dance and the stars form patterns as they sing. Everything is beautiful.
Then you wake up the next day and go home to traffic and a sinkful of dishes.
But the ghost of that feeling lingers with me for weeks. This movie has the same effect. If you haven't seen it, will make you happy. Everyone. I will generalize-no matter who you are. When it's over you are changed imperceptibly. You see the world through Maude's eyes-even for a fleeting day or two.

By the way-if you haven't seen it skip this blog-go see it and then come back and read it.
You probably won't do that. It's your funeral-because I am about to completely spoil it for you.

It's about a boy who is deeply depressed. He goes to funerals for entertainment, his life completely devoid of joy.The movie was made in the 70's-before prozac. My God what did people do back then? Hang yourself I guess.

He meets and 80 year old woman named Maude. She is bright and beautiful. She approaches every experience without fear-full of wonder and curiosity.

They fall in love. Despite the age difference it's one of the most touching love stories I have ever seen. He begins to see the world through her eyes.
Unattached to anything-even her own life-she is free. When Harold gives her a ring she throws it in the lake.
"There!" she laughs."Now I shall always know where it is!"

Which reminds me of something Bertrand Russell said-
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly"

Here today, gone tomorrow.
Go ahead and live. That's all you've really got.

At the end, when he is holding her hand in an ambulance as she dies, she is still joyful and unafraid.
"But I love you!" he weeps.

"Oh Harold," she smiles and grips his hand."That's wonderful! Now go and love some more."

And that's it really, isn't it? Love, love, love as fiercely as you can-and then let it go.

The combination of watching that movie again and a little red wine made me send long texts to one of my match.com dates about the nature of universal love-breaking out of paradigms and living fearlessly.
(I read in a ladies magazine once you should never, ever send a man sappy poetry. Oops.)
But I like men who like poetry-so maybe that weeds out dull, sports obsessed cavemen.
"I don't know anything about poetry." one of them told me."It's gay."
Much of them time it is actually. Nothing is worse than bad poetry, or women who wear too much purple and call themselves poets.

But-some of it is sublime.
Pablo Neruda-the most famous Chilean poet-wrote beautiful poems. Many of them in response to the brutal dictatorship of Pinochet-people "disapearing", torture, rape--he celebrated the beauty of the ordinary. Stop to notice these small moments. They are perfect.
Art and love ultimately conquering the brutality and horrors that the world can bring.
What else is art for, anyway?

Ode To The Lemon by Pablo Neruda
From blossoms
released
by the moonlight,
from an
aroma of exasperated
love,
steeped in fragrance,
yellowness
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.

Tender yield!
The coasts,
the markets glowed
with light, with
unrefined gold;
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
trickled
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
concentrated,
born of the cool, fresh
lemon,
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.

Knives
sliced a small
cathedral
in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened,
revealed acid stained glass,
drops
oozed topaz,
altars,
cool architecture.

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
a
yellow goblet
of miracles,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth's breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.