Sky

February 20, 2011 | 6 comments
By

Clouds 2I’d forgotten about the sky. For how long, I’m not sure. Months? Years?

When I remembered, it felt like waking from a cramped dream.

A few weeks ago, early in the morning, I was running. The sun climbed bright in the east. The moon, chalk white, lapsed in the west. And I was running beneath them – on the ground, next to water, up a hill, and around a bend.

I had been worried, anxious, impatient. But, beneath this sky, I couldn’t remember what about. So I wiped my brow and leaned into the wind.

Tolstoy remembered this sky. Here’s Prince Andrei, in War and Peace, just struck on the head by one of Napoleon’s men:

“What is it? am I falling? are my legs giving way under me?” he thought, and fell on his back. He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the fight between the French and the artillerists ended, and wishing to know whether or not the red-haired artillerist had been killed, whether the cannon had been taken or saved. But he did not see anything. There was nothing over him now except the sky – the lofty sky, not clear, but still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds slowly creeping across it.

“How quiet, calm, and solemn, not at all like when I was running,” thought Prince Andrei, “not like when we were running, shouting, and fighting; not at all like when the Frenchman and the artillerist, with angry and frightened faces, were pulling at the swab – it’s quite different the way clouds creep across this lofty, infinite sky.

“How is it I haven’t seen this lofty sky before? And how happy I am that I’ve finally come to know it. Yes! everything is empty, everything is a deception, except this infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing except that. But there is not even that, there is nothing except silence, tranquility. And thank God!” (281)

But don’t worry. My ears are, again, filled with noise.

6 Responses to Sky

  1. Bill of Wasilla on February 21, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Nice creative writing – from both you and Tolstoy. A couple of weeks ago, I took off on a trip and have been so busy ever since that I have done no work at all in that time on my novel about a Mormon missionary. This is like a kick in the butt to me, telling me I must get going again and I will do so before I go to bed tonight.

    Nice photograph, too. Did you take it? If not, and even if, you should be certain to credit it.

    It is as important that you credit that photograph as it was for you to credit Tolstoy and yourself, as the creator of this post.

  2. Adam Miller on February 21, 2011 at 6:40 am

    True, Bill. Here’s a link to the photo by Herman Bustamante.

  3. patricia k on February 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    A man who has just been struck on the cranium (with the hard part of a weapon?) may have suffered a brain injury of one degree or another and quite possibly be delusional from that, and the resulting perceptions be a another deception, even though, I suppose, he could experience his deception–especially a pleasurable, tranquil one–with the rush of clarity some associate with discovering the truth.
    On which possible deception are we meant to focus our attention–the man’s deceptions that gave rise to his investment in the war or the injured, possibly delusional enchephlon’s seeing of everything as being deception? Maybe both?

    But about the sky: Where I live, I have a huge swath of sky visible, night and day. Having that prospect open does change how I think. Especially the night sky, which, in a place free of light pollution and haze, becomes a real perspective-shifter. I’m glad that I’ve been able to live again in a place where the night sky can influence me. As God said, It is good.

  4. Adam Miller on February 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    You’re right, Patricia, that there can be a kind of ambiguity to such an experience – especially if Napoleon is involved. That’s why I wanted to assure everyone that they need not worry. I’ve already forgotten again about the sky :)

  5. Jonathon on February 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    What sky?

  6. patricia k on February 22, 2011 at 12:50 am

    A post like an Escher drawing.