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THE HIGH PLACE PHENOMENON

Updated: Oct 10, 2021



I’m sitting on the floor of my bedroom with the cars murmuring outside and I sit to collect within myself the emotion. At night I lay it out and consider what it is that I feel. I feel distant like distant cars passing on into distant places far off and feel that I could slip in the back, a stow away, slowly materializing beside the luggage. I’m neither here nor there. I feel instead. I feel that I’m far off like stars and cool night air passing through the window, breathing in and slipping out again, a hushed love affair with an imagined state, the feeling of freedom, the freedom of flight. I’m not a woman but a dream instead and I feel…


I collect star charts and ancient wisdom and consider for a moment a distant place which yielded at once to intuition and suspicions, training the soul to see. I want to see beyond tv and iPhones. I want to see beyond the artificial. I sit for a moment in the kitchen one evening and wonder for a while if I’m beyond space or time. I feel hot steam on my lips and allow the tea leaves to reveal to me a truth in our world I’ve missed. I am a woman in a kitchen somewhere with ancient wisdom at my lips. I allow steam to collect like heavy dew drops. I’m ocean mist somewhere on the Orient and soft gold light refracts in my hair.


I sometimes wish that I could vaporize the world before me, shifting walls and buildings that stand before me. I ought to revere the Establishment but instead I shuffle in and shuffle out like a paper on a desk which gets moved about and filed away. I suppose we’re all just following protocol. And what is Pass or Fail stamped on a paper somewhere but everything really? Amongst us all there’s a Social Contract to be signed and dated. Everything is so convenient these days. I’ll invest in those things that they tell me. I’ll be shuffled to that wing of the hospital they tell me. Eventually we all get the booster shots and procedures they promised us. And what is the Social Contract but a signature somewhere, a few dollars exchanged, a handshake, and they’ve got us all smiling and nodding the same way now.


I sit by myself in the shade in the Summer and wonder sometimes what it is that I want. I want a rose garden to sit in, to read and to write. I want hot tea and feelings on late Summer nights. I walk on streets in silhouette cities, with shadows that stand in windows that shift. I throw my voice to the mountainside and I hear at once not a shout but a whisper instead spread thinly in the night air. It lingers like broken spider’s webs in Spring do. It hovers in my ears and drifts away so to say, We drive on. We drive on. We drive on…


Fear is a sort of buffer between life and death, I think, a sort of warning to not go further. Fear cradles us, sticks us to a spot where we can stay and sit comfortably and at least not venture far from. We eat. We sleep. We enjoy life until fear presses in and death sits just beyond it. Some of us like to test the limits, lingering at the threshold as long as we can bear it. It makes us gods in our minds to race cars and climb mountains. We’ll live forever. We’ll be gods. We’ll be famous. We’ll be significant somehow. All of us in our concrete palaces, warlocks for the cause of Success!


But the man who jumped from his window we’ve forgotten already. They swept his limbs up from the street last night while everyone was dreaming. And in the haze we glance up from the sidewalk, wondering which will fall next, rain or bodies. August melts us into oblivion until we’re all left wondering if we’ll make it to September. But what about the month after that? And the one after that? I’m a firm believer in the High Place Phenomenon. The sensation to jump from high places seems common in New Yorkers. And when the highest among us fall, they fall ridiculously, flailing like birds with broken wings.


And when the ambulance comes and goes, then the tourists shuffle past, we can be glad to know that everyone just followed the protocol. Even the man who fell—and they all fall down and out, really—like from a pez dispenser, right into the mouth of one greedy little boy who will one day grow up to find as well that the climb was worse than the fall.


Sundays, they’ve got us with our hands in the air and there’s a handful of things we’ll have to pay penance for. We’re here wondering if there’s atonement for us, or just a steep slide to damnation. It’s a slippery slope once you’ve gone down that path! We tiptoe back away from the ledge and pay our mortgages instead, like a ransom for the violence within us, a penance for our human nature. It’s our great country with our low risk and protocol. We drive on perfect roads with our insurance policies in the glove compartment and our baggage stacked neatly in the back seat.


And we drive on. We drive on. We drive on…




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