Contemporary Fiction

Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,

E questa siepe, che da tanta parte

Dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati

Spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani

Silenzi, e profondissima quiete

Io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco

Il cor non si spaura. E come il vento

Odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello

Infinito silenzio a questa voce

Vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,

E le morte stagioni, e la presente

E viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa

Immensità s’annega il pensier mio:

E il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

This lonely hill was always dear to me,

and this hedgerow, which cuts off the view

of so much of the last horizon.

But sitting here and gazing, I can see

beyond, in my mind’s eye, unending spaces,

and superhuman silences, and depthless calm,

till what I feel

is almost fear. And when I hear

the wind stir in these branches, I begin

comparing that endless stillness with this noise:

and the eternal comes to mind,

and the dead seasons, and the present

living one, and how it sounds.

So my mind sinks in this immensity:

and foundering is sweet in such a sea.

(Giacomo Leopardi - L’infinito, translation by Jonathan Galassi)

Mint and fresh herbs tingle your nose with their fresh touch, and the green grass of the hill lays dotted with flowers, inviting you to come forth.

You stroll about, looking for the winding path that climbed to the top. Your memory wanders with you, tracing the steps of your past, when the trail used to whisper you soft songs of wind playing through the trees, changing voice with the seasons.

Your heart swells with a sense of longing, how you desire to have your spirit lifted from your body by the wind, once again being dragged at the very edge of reality, above a sea of pure thought and absolute connection .

How long has it been since you last came here?

How long since you last heard those songs?

You missed it so much, and yet you realize it only now, taking in the flux of odors and sensations emanating from the hill.

You think about the hedge that ran alongside the trail, that just barely hid the landscape… Oh that limitation to your sight, it allowed you to perceive endless spaces, so great that an unhindered eye never would have seen.

In that modest place, a small insignificant hill, your mind went gently adrift, sailing in that sea of infinite silence and unbound thought.

When in your busy life you get to have that respite, a moment of pure “un-intention”, where your thoughts are allowed to blend with your soul?

You reach the base of the hill, where the trail that you remember starts its climb, and there you find something new. The trail is now an asphalt road, broad and black, trampling the distance to the top with defiant arrogance.

Who would be so dense to think that a stretch of solid barf would be better than the original path? It was already perfect, why try to improve it?

Regardless of the inconvenience you start the small trek, taking a deep breath in, tasting the clean air, eager for that sweet, frightening, push towards a world of pure thought.

You find yourself pacing at a faster rate than what you used to, trying to get to the top, chasing the sounds and feelings that you remember.

The hedge that sided the path has been replaced by a guardrail, and from the fields below the insistent rumbling of cars’ engines climbs the path, following you. The old songs that the wind sang for you today stay quiet, their melody forgotten and crushed by the busy noises from below.

Finally you reach the top.

There is still the old tree that you remembered, now fenced, with a signpost reminding you to clean your dog’s shit.

Even though you don’t have a dog. Don’t care, you have to have the pleasure of seeing this good old fashioned plastic post.

And reading it in six different languages. Very useful on a God forgotten stupid hill, who the hell would climb up there with a goddamn dog, speaking Chinese moreover.

There is even a bench, made of metal, if you place your ass on it it will freeze to oblivion. Veeeery useful, right, a metal bench on your hill. So you can read the dog shit post better.

Up on that hill there was no music sang by the wind, there was no room for the infinite to reach you.

Just the good old noise of progress, the cold metal of responsibility and maturity. What a fool you were to think that you may find back what was yours when you were a teenager.

No more there is room in your heart to enjoy uselessness, there is no time to free your mind to float boundless. Even when you want, even when you may, the rest of the world doesn’t want you to.

Might as well surrender to the obvious, stop fighting your fate, if it doesn’t deliver at work, if it doesn’t pay taxes or complete chores, you are not allowed to do it.

There are a lot of things you are not allowed to do, but you can. Probably you shouldn’t but if you do, you just have to pay the price for it when they catch you.

But this is different. Nah it’s the kind of thing that if you try to do it, the whole world will turn against you and make it impossible.

Wanna enjoy a walk? New roads, no more hedge, no more silence, no more of what made that walk worth it.

It’s like some sort of Minority Report kind of police. You just think about it and the world will find a way to prevent you to. Fuck you very much.

To get to that place beyond the world, that you used to meet up there in the hill, there is only one way: letting go. Loosing direction, abandoning any goal, cancel your wants. Walk for no sake but walking.

Just how, how, were you able to do it?

This walk, this life, is no more a sweet foundering carried by spiritual currents, it’s a shipwreck against the rocky reefs of merciless urgency.

It is the end of the infinite.

November 18, 2021 02:36

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