I indulge in my definition of art. While the world wastes away.
While we’re picked off one by one and ten by ten.
The tide swallowing up grains of sand on the beach.
While I laugh and love and lie and lust.
There’s a Buddhist tale about a woman, some mice, some tigers, and a strawberry. It’s been dissected down to nonsense and rewritten in the echo chamber blogosphere to rub our backs the right way. The collective user has tried to bend and twist this story into a shape that fits and feels better because the truth might be cold and dark and breathless. It might be scarred and ugly and missing long, lovely limbs, but alive, and preferred over its other.
The way I hear it in my head is inspired by a poem now lost to two million hits.
A tiger chases a woman through the forest to the edge of a cliff.
The woman escapes, descending long, thorny vines,
but she looks down to find another tiger waiting for her below.
She is suspended between fate and its mirror.
The woman growls. She screams.
She is determined to wait out the tigers, so she twirls the spiky, green ropes around her bare limbs, drawing agony and blood.
She spits at fate. She trembles in pain and sighs in victory, glaring down at the pacing beast.
A mouse burrows out from the cliffside.
They climb up and start gnawing at the vines from which the woman hangs.
It begins to rain.
She cries. She sighs. She listens to her breath.
The woman feels the cool drops of water against her broken, burning skin.
She closes her eyes.
When she opens them again, she sees a tiny plant sprouting from the cliff.
It holds a single strawberry, ripe and red in perfection.
The mice scurry and gnash and squeak.
The tiger above sniffs and snarls while the other rumbles and pounds
and craves beneath her.
Her vines shudder and groan as they begin to unravel.
The woman reaches out and picks the strawberry.
She holds it against her open mouth, her tongue slowly finding each seed.
When she bites into the fruit, its flesh is soft, its juice sweet and flowing.
The world is that woman. Waiting, listening, raging, hoping, gasping an orgasmic breath as we watch our cure swagger in only to have it swallowed up, out of spite, by evolution and fate.
So write your music. Kiss your lovers. Find lost friends. The kind who make you giggle in the late hours, when you’re alone, overthinking. Lie in bed and feel the softness of the sheets—the heaviness of the blankets. Hold someone hurting without trying to find words to fix them. Scare yourself a little. Be brave and crazy and sad and happy and stupid and silly. Watch that video again. You know the one. Breathe.
Eat the strawberry.