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‘Bark‘ … The dog barks like mad. She shouts like a lunatic. He mouths off insensible verbs. The clock on the wall ticks away its invisible seconds. The TV reflects almost-nude island castaways. Britney Spears on the radio belts out the strong points of being stronger. A car screeches outside on the street. The throbbing in my head pinches the eyes shut with pain. Fists fly in the air. Blood splatters on the floor. The crying and the swearing cramp the air inside the room. I feign indifference beyond my own fear. The dog barks at me then turns still and wags its tail as it sees me taking out its bowl and putting food in it. She tells him to fuck off. He tells her to fuck off. The dog looks at me then eats its food frantically. The dog barks and at least I understand why. He and she bite each other’s heads off. I watch the dog finish off the last shreds of meat. The dog scoots out through the kitchen door, but not after barking at the warring parties and turning to take one last look at me. Standing there, just watching me, studying it. It scampers off to the backyard. The dog barks again. I stand behind the kitchen door, understanding its need to sound off, but failing to grasp the war in our midst. I restrain myself not to bark like the dog. I watch it play with its shadow in the sun. All I can hear in my head is its howling. It is almost comforting. Caring. Knowing.
© 2016 Ramon Loyola
From The Heaving Pavement: Epistles on an anxious life
Where I am right now, the weather is kind of freaky, with summer storms delivering a deluge of a month’s worth of rain, hail and gusty winds all in one day, with odd temperatures leading to questionable wardrobe choices. In moments like this, I tend to turn my thoughts towards nature and what mystical forces drive its behaviour. These storms, both predicted and unexpected in the height of the Australian summer, create in me ripples of longing for a deeper understanding of the truth about the universe. As I engage in that shameless reflection, my tendency is to pick up a book and savour words and thoughtful passages that it contains.
THIS IS ONE THOSE MOMENTS …
When I decided to finally finish reading the book by the late Tim Marshall (1972-2012), I was not prepared for whatever storms it may create within me. In the end, I could only feel grateful for having read ‘In Gratitude to Pegasus’.
Tim Marshall’s final (and only) collection of creative musings is filled with hope, epiphanies, meditation and spirituality. His introspection on nature (both internal and external), the epiphanies and breakthroughs of ‘self’ and the ‘other’ (which in these musings could only inhabit the elements of nature—the weather, birds, fruits, valleys, roads, mountains, seas, skin, faces) can astound the otherwise unconvinced reader. It is reminiscent of the desires and longings evident in some of the writings of Robert Frost and John Keats, with the underlying themes of searching for truth, beauty and peace beyond mortality, fate and tragedy.
The book reveals the angst of the writer in Marshall in his engagement with the Muse (‘Golden Thought’, ‘Writing’); it propounds on the melancholy of searching for Self (‘The Forgotten King’, ‘Waiting for the Mystical’), on the virtue of homage (‘Mum’), on the raw experience of a bright, weathered day (‘Blue Autumn Day’: ‘there is no thought / no judgement / red berries are glowing / in this blue autumn day’); it precludes one from doubting the value of self love (‘Your No-Face’), effectively infusing the thought process with the all-encompassing acceptance of one’s fate and the gratitude for the capacity to express the desire of being with one’s spiritual (or mystical) kin (‘In Gratitude to Pegasus’).
Marshall’s poetic musings provide deep insight that tends to deliver us from the ‘modern’ human instinct of ignoring the basic but glorious elements of nature. In that sense, the meditations provide us with the raw but powerful desire of living our lives as being one with the universe and on the simplest terms that one could muster amid the noise and chaos of modern life. It lights the way towards a path of self-discovery that never wavers in the storm of personal tragedy and disillusionment brought on by fate or consequence.
Proof of Marshall’s prolific tendencies in his short but eventful life, the book is prefaced by early information about his creative endeavours and spiritual excursions. And like a kid jumping for joy at the prospect of more treasure, I was delighted to find at the end of the book the poems that Marshall had written for his filmmaker friend, John Moran (‘Tapestry’, ‘Safety’, ‘Silence’), all extoling the virtues of meditating on quiet mindfulness and living. It was like finding the bonus track to an already-great track listing.
AND SO NOW …
As the rain and wind outside lash at my windowpane, I find myself thinking of Marshall’s devotion to his quest for the final truth, something that someone in his position could only have embraced more profoundly. I find myself wanting to tell everyone not to read my own previous book, but to absorb instead Marshall’s book for all its values and virtues for living a meaningful life. I find myself wishing Marshall well (paying him gratitude) as he rides above the sky, beyond the deep earth, through the bright stars and into the vast universe, perched on the back of Pegasus, wherever the divine wind takes him.
Like any other creative legacy, ‘In Gratitude to Pegasus’ pays homage to that often-misunderstood (and overlooked) tendency to be in spirit with the Divine—whether in the literal sense or in a more profound awareness that most writers possess—which in more ways than one inform any creative process. Marshall’s tome is a tribute to that lasting creative legacy, something that readers would hold close to their hearts, particularly on oddly described days of storm and wonder.