The Ancient Modern
Only a Gesture / Joshua Alan Sturgill
I do not write easily. There are weeks without productivity, and hours where too much comes to mind to commit it all to the page or screen. I am an unreliable self-editor. Sometimes, I see the flaws, sometimes I miss an obvious mistake; often, I over-edit and lose some valuable piece of meaning. The words pass from heart to mind, from mind to hand, as a river through a series of narrow rapids. Not smooth, not as effortless nor complete as I intend.
When I compare the finished work to the idea—or dream—or intuition that inspired it, I am often disappointed. I wasn’t able to find the canvas or the colors to express the beauty of my noetic landscape. I saw a vision, and I wanted someone else to see it, too. Or, knowing that someone else must have seen it, I want to craft a letter, letting that person know there are fellow visionaries out in the world.
Once, when living in rural Colorado, I saw a huge, flaming meteor fall out of the sky, burning so brightly through the atmosphere, it lit up the whole valley with an orange brilliance like a sunrise. This happened at midnight. I was driving home late from work alone. The light was so bright, it flickered and swelled, and looking up, I saw the meteor like a ball of flames with pieces of fire breaking off in all directions. I gripped the steering wheel of my car, expecting some explosion when it hit the ground. But instantly, it died. And, everything grew black with the impression of burning still in my eyes. I couldn’t see, and I had to sit in my car for several minutes before I could make the rest of the drive.
Did anyone else see? Was anyone else awed by the same terror? Did anyone else brace for a crash? Or, were they all asleep—watching television—busy in curtained rooms?
This question, do you see this, too? is the question that drives me to write, though poorly and with little real success of expression. I can’t adequately describe the glory. But, I can sketch it out. I can offer metaphors, measurements, analogies. I can give real or fictionally approximate times and locations. I can indicate the effect. I can gesture.
Possibly, I will see and understand more clearly because I write. Possibly, those who haven’t yet seen will now know what can be seen. And possibly, the poor writing is lost as soon as it emerges—unskillful, ephemeral, inconsequential.