There are four Corvus corax that I know of in this cemetery right now. They caw loudly to each other or maybe just out to the universe in general. They move, one at a time, from tree to monument to tree. They are not together, but they follow one another distantly. I try to imagine the space as they utilize it, undifferentiated by blocks and lots that humans have drawn and carved to bring the order and organization we need to perform our mental abstraction. We have to remember how to get back to this particular spot. We employ common patterns to make this easier for us. Corvus corax, the common raven, has no such need. The cemetery is one large field, and even that is not differentiated from the world around. There is only earth, sky and perch. All these little squares, rectangles and structures mean so much to me as a human. There is more to know in these few city blocks than I could ever hope to absorb. Earth, sky and perch. Food. Water. Night. Day. What must it be like, to be so free?
I am struggling, as I lean back against what I have come to think of as your tree, the tree beside your grave, with a notion that I need to come to terms with the legend of you, of our love, of our marriage. Death decorates a life with stature and status, builds up a fantasy of the departed, of how we loved them. It’s just another chapter in the legend of self that we author throughout our lives, that we tell ourselves and anyone who will listen. My loved one is dead. Sit and I’ll tell you her story, her legend, the epic of our love. It is both more and less than who we really were, who you really were. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s another part of being human. We abstract. We simplify. We draw and carve lines to make things easier to remember, to understand. And then affection, respect, honor lead us to embellish and polish, smooth and sand the roughness away. One does not criticize the dead, especially those beloved departed. It’s good that we do this. It’s a fine and lovely thing to do.
The problem is, there are no legends walking the living streets. Everyone I meet is mortal, and flawed, and perfectly lovely in their frailty and mundane charm. None of my plans or activities are epic in sweep. Every day I get up and accomplish something perfectly ordinary, and I’m content to have done so. I cannot hope to replace the legend of my past with anything that compares if I choose to believe the wonder of the story. I will never be able to look at another person and say, “Would you like to enter into a twenty year heroic love affair with me? I’m looking for a fairytale relationship. I’d like you to be legendary.” If I am going to move joyfully and confidently forward, I have to be honest about the mundane wonder of my former life. It was a perfectly ordinary wonderful relationship with a gloriously human beautiful woman. We met by accident and stayed together because we liked more than we didn’t about one another. None of the impressive things we accomplished were perfect and none of the sweet, blissful days were ideal. The net result was amazing, but the details were simple, doable, everyday. I can do that again. When I’m ready, I can do that. The results won’t be the same, but they can be good. I don’t have to find magic and perfection in my future, and I wouldn’t know what to do with them if I did, because I’ve never seen them before. We didn’t build this life from legend and heroism. There was just laughter, touches, tears, home, safety, loyalty, forgiveness, perseverance, fun, struggle, love. Earth, sky and perch. It’s freeing to know how simple it can be.
Hello, friends. I hope you’re well.