I believe that human existence is primarily characterized by misery, but made endurable by the occasional “kiros” moment – one of those unexpected ecstatic moments when time is temporarily suspended and you merge with an experience so completely that you lose consciousness of yourself.
I also believe that any attempt to reconstruct those moments, no matter how carefully you plan, is doomed to failure. Like trying to put the bubbles back in flat champagne.
Years ago, while ghostwriting for the high-profile president of a conservative Christian ministry, I began to feel a disconnect between the work I was doing and the person I actually was. I didn’t agree with all the political stands of the man I was channeling, but even more frustrating was the sense that I was ignoring my own muse. As I churned out letters over the boss’s signature, I could almost see the creative juices draining out of my fingers into the spaces between the computer keys.
Taking a brief leave of absence, I traveled to the Alabama Gulf Coast for an Internet poets gathering. It was a “kiros” convergence of creative energy, breathtaking physical surroundings, and an eclectic mix of colorful personalities. After seven years of cloistered existence in “Evangeli-World,” I felt as free as Isadora Duncan trailing a bunch of scarves. We toured the Mobile area performing our poetry at bookstores and coffeehouses – mostly to an audience of each other. In the space of four days, romances sprouted, feuds erupted and resolved, and “forever” friendships were formed. On our last night, we gathered for a midnight “howl” of ribald performance poetry and grits swimming in peaches and butter. Then everyone packed up and went home to “RL” (Real Life).
But I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. I wanted to be with these people all the time. I quit my job, sold my house, loaded up the cat and relocated to “Bama,” totally jazzed about joining the Fairhope poets “community.”
But the community didn’t materialize. Though two other women poets relocated from New York and Boston, we rarely saw each other. We all struggled to find work in the small tourist town. The monsoon rains seemed unremitting. A plan to open an Internet cafT fizzled for lack of funds. Creative personalities clashed over who would hold “Poet Laureate” status, and those forever friendships crumbled like a wet cheese stick. One girl married a pastor and moved to Birmingham. The other collected disability payments and settled into a mobile home on the outskirts of town. After six months, I folded my tent and moved back to Colorado, so thankful to see the mountains, I nearly kissed the ground.
The community I longed for was an illusion – a feeling more than a place. A Brigadoon appearing out of the mist for a day, then disappearing again. Maybe, like Brigadoon, a similar experience will appear again someday. But I know that I won’t find it as long as I’m looking for it. It will have to find me.