Just got back from a fireworks show. I remember fireworks being a little bit awesome, in the older sense of the word. Now, they’re just repetitive booms and flashes of light. I found myself looking at the moon rather than the explosions near it, and thinking about lines of poetry I have found beautiful. Fire drawn across the sky seems somehow meager when compared to the fire that can be drawn across the mind. Explosions and colored bursts of light are not rare on the ground; what need do we have to hang them in the heavens?
Toward the end, I started worrying about traffic; direction of traffic in this town was not the best, but I left a bit early and made it home before it got awful. That meant the grand finale took place while I was on the road, and that was the only moment I felt a twinge of the sublime — as I drove past the smokey haze of gunpowder flowing across the highway from the park, lit pink and blue by the lights of the police cruisers.
Should I wrestle this into a metaphor about the mind? Okay. When I was a kid, I thought fireworks were fascinating; they drown out the sky with their bright flashes and every one elicites an interjection of awe. But now, I find their patterns overly familiar, so I can discount them and see the moon behind them. Beginning the discipline of the mind, all of our thoughts seem like ourselves and each one elicits a feeling of shame or joy. But after a time meditating and practicing mindfulness, thoughts just become the same old thing, and we can see the moon behind them.
All right, enough of that nonsense. It sounds like something that should be in a book about Buddhism, one of those with a brush drawing of some moist flower on the cover. In reality, I just feel ever so slightly melancholy because I wanted the fireworks to be like the ones I saw when I was a child. That’s not a bad thing. I don’t mind being melancholy; it’s a handy emotion to be in for a writer.
Happy 4th of July.