Everyone pretty much agrees that if you exercise and eat right and don’t smoke or drink or annoy a cop, you’ll never die. I have been told that by my internist, cardiologist, psychiatrist and all of their nurses, receptionists and building custodians.
Over the weekend, I was invited for cocktails by a group of excruciatingly charming and renowned surgeons. Nothing monumental about that. This writer, in dull good health, with not so much as toothache or common cold or a mild rash, with no visible malady other than world besottedness. Doctors are not much concerned about tales or their tellers, unless that writer has an interesting complaint.
To the lives of doctors, given over as they are to the hard, sad, heavy push against mortality, what salve or balm or use may an addled scribbler be?
They are absorbed by blood and bone, each one alone in their judgment. They walk the fragile bridge between the salvation into life and the morbid slide into death, while this writer is just a weaver of tales, a sybarite of libraries or voluptuary of print. Doctors by contrast, are soaked in the disinfectant of hospitals where the broken and the morbid swarm in cold white beds.
It would be audacious and what gall to suppose that this imaginer by trade and weaver of tales can bring news of the human predicament to a doctor in his dread round? What more, we know that the general perception of these white-coated tribe are not abundantly given to metaphorical speech and thoughts — they are appalled by it.
They can’t disengage themselves from the capacity they put before pleasure. Clear judgment, before the allure of words, they canot cut off from the heal of human pity for the sake of a figure of speech, perhaps to make them more humane.
I’ve been set down (or set up) among the doctors, this storyteller among the healers, to increase the doctors capacity to imagine, since by their own admission, too often, they do not (never) presume a connection of vulnerability between the catastrophe that besets their patients and the susceptibility of the doctor’s own flesh.
This writer will suggest a course of connection and entering into tremulous spirits of the helpless, fearful, apart, by demonstrating in a bouquet of words, to contagion of passion and compassion, called empathy in medical literature.
Cautious and frightened, with only the redemptive ardor of literature, I began to read on a narrative about an imaginary, sexually active plenum.
about “a great factory or shop of power with its rotating constellations, times and tides. A place where the birth of a child is no longer welcome and for technological reasons no longer possible,” from an essay of Emerson. The most refined and intellectual in this plenum are those least willing to bear children because children interrupt.
But a number of children managed to be born, in any case, illicitly and improbably. One wished to tell them how those children turnout out and what happened to that sophisticated, though unlucky plenum.
My purpose was not to disclose the destiny of the children, but rather, the behavior of the doctors.
Of course, in my narrative everything ended in barbarism and savagery, which I have chosen to present, as part satire, part parable outfield in drollery in deepest imitative tertiary debt, to literary form drenched in, above all, metaphors.
My tale of the lascivious planet and its people could only have been directed against artifice and malice and self indulgence. But it also pressed for fruitfulness and health, sanity and generosity, bloom, and of course, continuity. A story contrived to declare itself on the side of life. Therefore, on the side of the doctors themselves, but in a lively list of parables, in such a light lance to be able to unfold life, without using blatant carcasses of heavy nouns, medical science uses. Just the power and charm of fables and figures of speech obedient to my topic. That, of perhaps opening the inmost valve of the imaginary heart of these doctors.
But they countered I was being obscure and mean spirited, resolved to perplex. They wanted, demanded plain speech. They were appalled by fable, images, echoes, irony, obliqueness and double meanings that need the call to interpret, to comment and diagnose. Ambiguity to them in akin to arcane. Now the examining table had been turned on them and reasoning authority, where nothing matters most but the struggle to heal, the will to repair the shattered, the will to redeem and make whole.
I’ve been cheerfully chastised that they are a breed of serious men and women that are used to feeling at home in their minds. An inspiration is an intruder, a kidnapper of reason, like a burglar who shoots the watch dog dead…that instigates cliff walking, sweeping the quarry to the edge of unfamiliar abysses chasing the sentries, and sensor and monitors.
Humbly, I replied, “Inspiration could come from a ray of the sun, a moonlight, a toddler’s chuckle even from a wounded heart. It is when you seize life, that it comes.”
For me, inspiration could show itself even from an arthritic hobble.