Thursday, 2 January 2014

Blind Hope

Hope, G. F. Watts 1886 (2nd version)
Hope was adrift on a buoy. Her inflatable dingy had suffered a puncture and collapsed, even though she had strenuously bailed out the invading water, and so she had flung herself on to a passing red buoy. She now sat hunched atop this bobbing globe and clung onto her one-stringed violin. Why she had saved this she didn't know! But she rested her chin and her head against it and plucked that one string. The sweet resonant sound eased her physical discomfort and suffering.
As she plucked the one intact string on her violin, the movement and the light breeze caused her white bandanna to slip down and cover her eyes. Better to be blind she thought. Hope had no desires to revisit the past, live in the present, or look ahead to the future; blindfolded she was truly impartial. Who knew if there would be a positive outcome to her foolish jaunt? It was easier to forget the events that led up to this and just float, and being unable to see actually made her feel more hopeful.
Life would be less hard if you could let yourself drift like this. Go with the current and not against it, but sightedness only seemed to make hope's cousin despair more probable. Hope, blinded, felt comforted; lulled by this strange situation. She calmly hung onto to the red buoy with no wild thrashes or plans of rescue. After all, she was safe having escaped her water-logged dingy and struggling now would not be helpful. She simply decided to accept whatever fate brought her.
Hope was not expectant of anything; those thoughts had left her, and since they had she had never felt more alive. Hunched on the buoy, blindfolded and plucking the sole string of her violin her senses had remarkably heightened. She heard every sound of the sea, the air smelt of brine, and her lips tasted salty. She felt the air lightly caress her bare skin and the waves wash over her feet. She was aware of the sun drying her thin, wet chemise, but shivered violently when it disappeared behind a cloud and when it finally set. The violin's faint and exquisite melancholic note was the perfect accompaniment to her new-found sensitivity. This was so much more than she had imagined the gap between hope and despair would be.
Behind the white blind, she pictured her scene in tones of green, brown and grey. She saw grey rolling mist and a placid sea and herself as a desolate girl clinging to a buoy. She was a mermaid-turned-human girl serenading the ocean and hoping to capture a passing fisherman.
Hope despaired of being found, but her despair brought hope. She envisioned how if found she would live her 'House of Life' differently. How she would weather the storms and ride her emotions; how she would breath life into her aspirations, and as she did, she felt the curtains of night draw close around her and an overhead star gaze down.
Disconcerted by the still surround, the murky starlight was comforting. Hope's world became a muddy brown. Was she bobbing or drifting like flotsam? There was no definite rise or fall, just every now and then a gentle sway or a forwards-backwards motion. The sea felt just like a pair of maternal hands rocking her to sleep. Go to sleep, go to sleep....
She fought to keep her darkened eyes open. No, she would not! Hopes don't sleep, they worry away constantly. Nag underneath, rise to the top of surface or produce stormy seas if ignored, but mostly they watch for breaks in the cloud. They are the streaks of sunlight that pierce grey skies; the brief, shy, distant smiles that are usually frowns; the fleeting recognition of beauty; and the sudden realisation that all is well. That this too will pass. Hopes seize potential.
Hope knew what she had to do. She would emulate the abstract Hopes' gone before, the ones portrayed in symbolist paintings: she would continue to pluck the one string of her violin and have the audacity to hope.