Saturday, 6 March 2010

Alone With Thought

A man with a blank expression sits on a rock. He watches in silence as the early morning mist begins to lift within the temple grounds. A horizontal line marks the underbelly of the mass of moisture. It moves slowly upward, as if pulled by a giant magnet in the sky. Day break signals the end of the battle between darkness and light. At sundown darkness is the victor, at daybreak light prevails.

He looks on in awe as the surrounding area is illuminated with a luxurious pastel hue: the horizon is shaded with a beautiful softness. Roosters signal the day’s arrival with their trademark throat clearing, cutting through the still air like a knife through damp clay.

He raises his notepad horizontally to his forehead, enabling him to avert the sun glare. In the distance, a Buddhist temple sits quietly below a hill, patiently waiting for the day to unfold. He is fascinated by the intricate patterns of light that are reflecting from the stained glass, casting spells of timeless beauty. As he walks slowly down a manicured lawn, the smell of Orchids drifts delicately in the breeze. Bees and butterflies appear from nowhere, aroused by the sensual smell perfuming the air.

At the far end of the lawn, a small path takes its place. Here, stray dogs cast watery eyed glances at his cautious movements. They pant mechanically, in a futile struggle against the elements. Their efforts are in vain. The man unbuttons the top three buttons of his shirt as the cold morning air retreats, leaving only a memory in its wake.

The path meanders past giant green shrubs and delicate flowers until it reaches a small wooden bridge. Perspiration trickles down the man’s back, creating a wet patch on his shirt. Ornately carved teak doors become visible to one side, their tearful departure from the shadows now complete. The man raises an eye brow impressed with the intricacy of the design.

He passes a wonderful golden archway that stoops down as if attempting to kiss the ground. Its physical beauty electrifies his imagination.

Everywhere he looks pinks and purples, reds and greens, mauves and yellows, compete as if in a beauty pageant. Natural selection is their make-up artist. The man’s stony demeanor is broken; he breaks into a smile. Two coconut trees sway like drunkards; between them a red hammock is stretched.

As the sun begins to assert itself, the man sits on the grass. Monks chant. The monosyllables are powerful and engage him. His attention is drawn upwards. Birds begin to sing, their mouths controlled by invisible thread. Melodious softness covers everything like a sea mist, momentarily sight and sounds melt into one.

A butterfly floats seductively like a silver feather and lands on an Orchid. It rests. Tentatively, slowly, and with great effort, the wings come back to life as he watches. It flies out of sight.

He stands up and brushes the dry grass from his shorts and back. Dry leaves crackle under his feet causing an unprecedented commotion. Panicking lizards retreat to a safe haven somewhere in the thick undergrowth.

The path comes to an abrupt end. Humble monastic dwellings hug the walled perimeter. In front of the huts he observes freshly washed orange robes sway leisurely to nature’s rhythm. To the left of the huts gawky chickens play medieval games of joust, baking under the white-hot plate in the sky. Their movements, like those of martial arts masters, deftly move between placidity and aggression. A cloud of dust forms above them. The man covers his eyes and tries not to breath.

Everywhere he gazes, symbols jump out at him: Brave stallions stand on hind legs, their expression that of utter fearlessness. Elephants raise trunks triumphantly, as if trumpeting in a new dawn in human understanding. Ancient Papal trees dressed luxuriously in brightly coloured silks, ward off evil spirits. His head spins wildly contemplating the meaning of it all.

An open expanse of sun-burnt grass leads him to a lone pineapple bush. Its isolation compounded by the barrenness of its immediate surroundings. On its own, like the robed men who eat its fruit, it lives out life without complaint. He exhales this thought, and breaths it in again: it resonates deep within him.

In the distance he sees, a shimmering golden spire peeping out of the dense jungle, pointing upwards towards the cloudless sky. The jungle intimidates him: ever encroaching. During daylight hours it gives off a silent, but intense energy. At nighttime it reverberates, teaming with life.

The sun slowly, but steadily climbs. The temperature accompanies this assent and pounds the man with wave upon wave of stultifying heat. He begins to tire.

With this his journey ends. A shady patch of grass silently commands his attention. Here he walks, dragging his feet on the gravel, listening to sound.


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