Arrows

My happiness is shattered, or at least, cracked. Yesterday I prayed, “Don’t let this summer end.” And now, as if I’ve said just the words that were sure to bring about that end, I am struck by an onrush of doubt and confusion. It’s the coming of school, I think: After several months of retreat–a period of introspection without fear of interrogation–now it’s back to the daily grind and the world of bureaucracy. Last night I was overwhelmed with the paperwork and the emails and the regulations. Part of me wants to cry; but I haven’t cried in a long time.

I’ve got a month ahead of me, so it’ll be all right. This shock will pass. It’s been a long summer, and I I have changed a lot. It seems that that change has made the encroaching school year seem all the more toxic…

toxic–toxis–arrow
sin–to miss the mark, as with an arrow…

I used to live near a statue called “Sebastian.” Sebastian was a solid grey concrete block, about 7 feet tall, with its name engraved at the bottom. Holes had been drilled in patterns on each of four ‘sides,’ and into each of those holes had been pounded the end of a great wooden splinter. This was (so I was told by the artist) to mimic the first stages of rock carving, when water would be poured over the splinters, causing them to enlarge and (being occasionally pounded further into the rock) crack apart the outermost layer surface of the material, revealing the beginnings of a sculpture. Only rain water was poured over Sebastian, and the concrete never cracked. One was left to imagine the image–hidden inside but doomed never to be released–was of the martyr St. Sebastian, pierced by so many arrows.

Maybe we put ourselves through this–I mean Life, I mean Toil–in order to plant those splinters of arrow into ourselves. Then, when the rain comes, we crack and become beautiful images, shaped and completed by some Master’s hand.

But then again, what’s wrong with leaving the rock alone? I bet Sebastian would admit that it’s a deadly painful process…

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About John Harness
John Harness is an artist and educator in Chicago. He is a member of Socialist Alternative and the Klingon Language Institute. He writes about political activism and roleplaying games.

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