Apr 14, 2006

An Attack of Enlightenment

(photo by pehedges)

Bjork - Storm (mp3)

After tucking in a socially clumsy cookout for the night with a blanket of regret, I settled on the front porch with a bottle of Guinness and became mezmorized by a grumbling electrical lightning storm in the distance, just above the trees. Inexplicably drawn to the novelty, I wandered barefooted through the darkened streets of the neighborhood until I reached a park where I could stretch my field of vision to accommodate the spectacle. A strikingly important dialogue was taking place between the erratic visual intensities, though I laid beneath on the spring grass as a fascinated voyeur completely perplexed to what had sparked the occasion. Quick firework flashes were answered by etch-a-sketch glow worms meandering across the sky. The only thing keeping me comfortable was my favourite wool cardigan (slightly more vulnerable after discovering a hole in the armpit this morning) and the exciting potential that accompanied the danger of the enveloping electric potential. This was an event those with a more structured spiritual framework would characterize as heightened by feeling the proximity of a divine presence. I just felt that something was happening, an infomercial-promised natural cure for my afflictions of monotony.

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A half hour of engrossing extremity later, I remembered I belonged to a physical body and returned to pull it up off the grass. Never satisfied with gravity and dangerously interested in storms, I located the highest spot in the park, arranged a disjointed stepladder of picnic tables and port-o-potties, and pulled my self onto the roof of the pavilion. I laid myself down on the flat rubber surface as a gracious offering and continued to breathe the impressively continuous celestial deconstruction. Catching an explosion in my direct line of sight, I was convinced by the shape of bright image that the force was acting as some type of internalized microscopy and I was actually being empowered to visualize a vein in my own eye. An exaggerated blink unintentionally cued a rushing white cloud like a curtain attempting to censor an otherwise expansive spatial show. The surreal nature of the sudden cloudy tumult is best described as reminiscent of the intro from the
Never Ending Story. Simultaneously, staccatoed tapping noises began to arise around me like the surrounding rubber was being pinched between an invisible thumb and index finger, stretched upwards, and snapped back against the roof's surface. The stimuli remained curiously exclusively audial. Unable to comprehend but distracted by the graceful morphing of the clouds, I accepted my vulnerability to the pressure that had me squeezed between the earth and the atmosphere.

An opposite shift and rapid acceleration in the wind amassed a physically threatening force pushing from my feet past my face and slapping through my hair. With my eyes closed, the delicate snapping noises lounged in contrast to a new heavy bass in the distance that I thought was an increasingly violent wind across the lake banging increasingly flimsy trees together. Building volume, the smooth crescendo was interrupted by a startling SMACK. I sat up in immediate curiosity because the whirling wind, lightning, and cloud formations (though extreme) had all remained within my basic weather schema. But this sound was different. It was physical, like the weather had finally thrown down and decided it was more than a local television filler, that it was sick of being able to be explained and predicted by simple TV personalities in toupees and cheap suits.

My curiosity turned into panic as large white cloud pieces rocketed down from the sky, hitting the ground with a force greater than a baseball entering a baseball glove. In a matter of seconds (and before I could stand up), the distinct ice-earth collisions had turned into a resounding battery in which I was caught unprepared and unexpected. Stuck profoundly on the head, I shielded myself with my arms and scrambled with adrenaline-induced speed to the edge of the roof (attempting to be careful and not fall off). In the process of lowering myself down, I was pummeled a few more times in the head, the shoulders, and squarely on top of a foot. Finally safe under the pavilion's awning, I collapsed against the innermost wall and stared in shock at the tremendously violent and disorientingly surreal scene occurring before me. The hail began to be accompanied by sheets of rain and I descended into a blurry flashback of standing in front of a lattice of hanging white rocks at an installation at the Milwaukee Art Museum. In a mixture of post-anxiety and head trauma, I leaned over and vomited my stomach contents into a rushing stream heading downhill towards the lake. I don't remember how long I sat there, but I eventually leaned my head against the wall and passed out.

When I woke up, the rain had stopped and I was sitting in a puddle in the dark. A void was palpable, as well as an excitement hangover of disappointment, reactionary agnosticism, and headache. Stumbling around looking for my cell phone that I had apparently dropped in the scuffle, I was able to collect a few pieces of ice that I measured to be the length from my knuckle to the first joint on my middle finger (somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball in traditional sports-equipment-based hail terminology). The remnants were remarkably texturized and each contained a circular internal core of intense white. I treated them like moon rocks. In a strangely calming logic, I decided to put them in the pocket where my now missing cell phone had once been. They would probably would melt on my walk home, but it seemed like the right thing to do. My bruised feet trodded a bewildered path through new puddles and over rough, fallen branches that were plant symptoms of the same aerial attack. Finally arriving home, I walked straight from the front door to my bed... where I just woke up from what was the most incredible night of my life.

(photo by Doug Raflik)


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