Someone found me, at last. He seemed a little older than me, maybe twenty five. His forehead was more domineering, less delicately lined; his eyes were a colder blue.
He sat me down, and offered me another glass of wine. As he did so, he brought to mind a memory of a peaceful, avuncular presence I once knew. I couldn’t place it: and for the briefest moment I felt entirely at home with him. I sipped from my glass, the wine as rich as it was red, deeper than sound and more patient than silence.
He listened to me. More so than any man I have ever met, he listened. Such artful reciprocity I had never known. His every mannerism pleased me, so that as I talked to him I faced a tranquillity which beautifully engendered in me that same quality of calm. His very person seemed as a response to mine.
Indeed, whenever I stole a glimpse of him, his eyes stared directly back at me as though he had been waiting for it. He tilted his head to meet mine; he read my body language perfectly, adopting my mannerisms with a steady ease and effortlessness. Rather, his every motion seemed not to be dictated by force or intention but a graceful poise, as though directed by some finely-balanced thought.
We talked of many things. I confessed that I had of late nurtured dark thoughts, doubts and restless uncertainties which sank gorgeously through me as cold descends from a distant sunset; I confessed that I had grown fond of wine, and the fake company of late evenings spent alone. I confessed that I had become a stranger to my former self, could barely read the entries in my journal from mere months before. The very language had shifted in my mouth. The lines were no longer parallel, the sounds were in counterpoint. Whereas once a landscape was a vision of delights, now I found that a painting was a painting was a painting.
Yet here he was, sat before me with such sweet simplicity. Though I spoke entirely for myself, all the while I dwelt upon a mutuality which eddied and drifted between us.
And as I brought wine to my lips, so did he.
And as I raised a hand to my brow, in uneasy contemplation, so did he.
Before me was a painting was a painting was a painting. It moved, as I. And so we spoke into mirrors together and at last, someone found me.
I wrote this immediately upon reading Gary Holdaway’s most recent post as part of our Theme Exchange, The Shaman. Be sure to read it now: though short-and-sweet, its nuances and suggestions are well worth investigating and it’s a thoroughly enlightening read: http://garyholdaway.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/the-shaman/
Within seconds of reading this I had decided exactly what to write. It seemed to me that although Gary’s central focus was on “Bonds”, in particular between different persons, I found the shaman personified a quite different type of familiar-stranger.
We needn’t tread too far into the realms of mental illness, detachment, disassociation or other troubles of the mind. A past self to a future self; one disposition to another; mirrors, shadows, reflections, dreams: all of these could symbolised in this way.
I read into the shaman a personification of the narrator, or at least an aspect of the narrator. The story is one of self-discovery: either because the shaman shows the narrator a new perspective, or more succinctly, because the narrator finds the shaman at all.
Inspired in part by Camus, Sartre and so many other existential writers, I do have to concede a fair amount of the style of this is in fact drawn from Horror. Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson are the key ones to read here.