Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Periods, winter, and cleaning the pool

“If we are to be a people of balance, then we must have the ability use periods just as we love to use commas and exclamation points and semicolons. What is a period if not a circle—a vital symbol of many of our experiences. Yes, it is a circle that is completely filled with darkness, and sometimes that is not comfortable—but it is still necessary."

I’ve had this mystery quote inked down for awhile and the idea comes up in relationships with people. A period marks the death of a sentence, but the story continues. The sentence doesn’t disappear. A period doesn’t erode or erase. The sentence has reached its peak.

The season and the political climate of the past year have prompted me to evaluate relationships. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis used a stagnant winter to represent oppression and hopelessness of beings in his fantasy land of Narnia. Innocent child Edmund happens upon the evil White Witch along the road and she tempts him with candy and the prospect of having power over his siblings. Long story short, Edmund is saved by the siblings he initially sought to throw under the bus.

An enduring relationship is comforting. It feels right, even if the relationship has reached its end. I’m no longer grasping onto connections for the sole reason of longevity. I know I’m supposed to be seek to understand why you think the way you do and respect your opinion. I’m supposed to be open-minded. I’m sorry, but there’s a difference between “I think chocolate covered Swedish fish are wrong” and “I think interracial children are wrong.” I only live once and prefer to spend my energy with people who inspire and support me and want the same changes in the world.  

When I was young my neighbors would let us swim in their pool. It was beautiful, like something out of Architectural Digest. We entered the gates and ran for the traps along the edge to see what was collected overnight, and we would grab the skimmer and graze off the leaves and seeds and bugs that floated on the surface. Sometimes there would be a dark blob in the bottom of the deep end, maybe leaves after a storm or a drowned chipmunk. Skimmer handling teaches you that the rippling water and sunlight make the long pole appear bent and you have to compensate with your aim. Also, the big blob might not be solid, but instead be a pile of powdery debris that if disturbed too much, can make a mess that’s hard to control.

Some people can help you get the water-logged debris and dead animals from the depths, and some can skim the top. Both functions are vital for a radiant pool, but they’re different operations. Refracting light and the pattern of the pool liner makes the blobs look in indistinguishable. Like when there’s a smudge on the screen and you can’t tell if that mark is a period or a comma. 

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