Small Night Serenade (1943) by Dorothea Tanning
Trusting yourself is an extreme sport. It appears dangerous to onlookers. They don’t want to watch it or hear about it or do it themselves. They might trust their own logic but they don’t trust their feelings. Even those who stand to gain the most from your courage of conviction will discourage you from becoming courageous.
Maybe I’m just crazy, you’ll think, and you’ll probably be right about that.
Maybe I should simmer the fuck down and behave exactly like everyone else. Maybe I should color within these clean lines. Maybe I should fade into the background, at long last.
It’s easier to shrug off the morse code, take down the flags, ignore the shooting stars. It’s easier to treat everything as a farce. It makes for a more salable narrative: One long, running joke interrupted by dark musical numbers. Just like life itself.
But there is liquid gold in my veins now. The room spins on the axis of my good frame. I’m a lion, not a mowess. It doesn’t have to be about a vision quest anymore. Nonbelievers can run off to the casinos to get their kicks. There are always swirling lights and pretty distractions around for animals who prefer to lose the thread.
I can still hold down the center. I don’t require acolytes. My challenge lies in loosening my grip on all possible outcomes. If there’s a moral to this story, it’s this: The plot is always arbitrary. I had a happy ending all picked out for myself. I wrote it decades ago. I finalized the plot, and then I found a proper hero. It was a very thoughtful process. I made a rational choice. I could not have made a better one. It even feels right.
What I don’t like is the logic behind it. I’m having a lot of feelings about logic these days. I’m using my feelings to pull all logic apart like taffy, stretching it into dangerously sticky cobwebs. Everything I’m feeling right now is a dangerously sticky cobweb. You’re not afraid because you don’t understand my power as well as I do. The dashing hero isn’t afraid, either. You both believe in hard science. You both question alchemy.
But I feel more alive inside the imagined grace of a universal elixir. I want to believe something more than I want to know it for sure. I want to feel much more than I can piece together using words. I want to dance about the rising oceans and sing about a future full of uneasy, incomplete solutions, like songbirds falling from the trees and hitting the ground but never dying, just fluttering and flopping around forever.
Words expire much more rapidly than that. I have to post this before the tide goes out.
Please stop and feel the pure intentions behind these disappearing letters. I’m with you, that’s all. It doesn’t have a shape. That’s the whole point. The apocalypse presses its palm to my throat and says, Take whatever you’re given and work with it. Figure out how to thrive inside a quick dissolve to black. Keep splitting it in half and you’ll always have half of your remaining time left. Trust yourself as the clock ticks down. Indulge in a careful minuet of risk and restraint. As long as you never start something, this could go on forever.