So many vignettes, stitched together in my consciousness. Snatches of the deep blue from the brow of a hill, the bark of a baboon nearby, cold, nobbly rock under my outstretched legs. A distant man on a roof – running! Empty streets, save for dilettante shoppers, meandering along their daily route. Another convoy of obscenely howling vehicles crawling through the streets, flashing out a soulless warning in dead syllables. Blue lights coasting down the ribbon of road winding round my hill, a deadpan encounter with the guardians of the night: “As long as you understand you are not supposed to be out here – carry on …”.
But always, the pungent tang of seaweed, the crunch of rock underfoot, quiet moments as a bird perches nearby, robins, starlings, sugarbirds, ever-present crows and ibises, the shocking sight of a seal where previously sunbathers toned their skins, the shifting night sky, an alarm from a startled baboon, the deathly call of an eagle owl. These are the substance of dreams …
Otters sniffle their way to the water’s edge, moonlight on their glossy pelts, caracal invade gardens, porcupines carpet bomb the road with their spines; nature breathes: her calls penetrating walls, mingling with the wash of frequencies around the antennae that pock the landscape, erupt from buildings. She gathers herself, throws off her shy mien and emerges on the vacant stage, growing in stature: sensual, vital, no longer the stepchild, or tawdry wench, her innocence restored. Everywhere her face is to be seen, cast upon the spectral moon – craters for eyes, reflected in the blushing pools at last light, the subtle tracks on the white sands, ever-modulating green of the hills, her visage beams from innumerable jewels in the darkened sky, sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning, at once aloof and enticing.
The words of a long-departed poet float across my consciousness: “Man being absent, Africa is good.” Somehow these words jar, disrupt the flow of images …
The nihilism of removing one organism for the sake of another denies the very nature of life, the organic web of interwoven cells, the exchange of energy, the mysterious, indefinable relationship one creature has with all others. Science and reason are apt to reduce all to rule and paradigm when nature is a physical manifestation of the unseen, it needs not a reason to breed, or seek others of its kind, or even to exult in the enveloping skin of the world, to marvel at the sheltering sky. Nature is music expressed in colour, sight, sound, art splashed profusely morning and evening, it can be felt with every sense, can overwhelm the senses with its synaesthetic moments: the green sounds of a forest swaying in the breeze, the hot orange of the desert aloe, the unmistakeable silver that chuckles in a mountain stream. Does this miracle exist to behold itself?
No, Man is intrinsic, holds Nature in a matrix that blends the polarities, Man is water and fire, earth and wind, unyielding bedrock and fluent river, man finds complete expression in Blake’s marriage of opposites.
This, too is dream and far above the ken of mere language to be conveyed, the mystery of the perfect union of man, woman and thus, divine is the mystery of life. It is only with the edges of our souls that we can reach this summit of being, only with our inner senses fully extended that we are able to hear the music of the divine that we can participate in, tuning our faculties taut, almost to breaking point to capture the notes too high for the ear.
Would that all souls be not dull and fearful of that breaking point in this most noble of endeavours, would that the honesty of being human consumes every self-deception and delusion that has come to be accepted as wisdom. Remove the extra “t” from “truth”, reverse the word and you will see why so many choose to avoid it; instead, choosing its more palatable step-sibling, they fall for Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house, not knowing what lurks inside.