As my red eyes began adjusting to the blinding clarity of the world through the eyes of the Present, I began awakening more and more to the truth of my utter lostness. I had lived in the dark for so long I recognized nothing; my belongings were all scattered, strewn about, like discarded beer cans along the nameless Juniata County backroads.
Squinting painfully into the perpetual midnight of the Rotten Belly basement, I realized that this newfound awareness of my total unawareness did not come alone. No, this realization walked hand in hand with a friend: the knowledge that a phase of my life was ending.
“Only fools can be redeemed”, I had prophesied it to myself! Or rather, some dark corner of my fragmented psyche had communicated it to the cognizant "me" in the form of a macabre ballad of a man hired to murder a villain in order to provide for his starving children. In the song, the man dreams of his deceased wife's tear-steeped eyes, pleading that he not do the deed: "if you do this thing, you'll be lost from me, never to be freed, for you know too well what heaven forbids, only fools can be redeemed".
"Bind us anew, I to you, you to I, bind us anew, anew, anew..." the tormented widow cries to his lost bride beyond the grave. And she, like the ghost wearing the Long Black Veil, haunts his dreams, echoing his wailing plea: "Bind us anew!" And I, to that hidden part of myself, from whence this odd drama sprouted into waking mind and music, also cried, "Bind us anew!"
I had often wondered where this song had come from, a man so different from me, in such a tragic, seemingly unrealistic situation. Only now, knotted in this antique armchair, did I begin to realize how alike we were. The simple line, "only fools can be redeemed", unfolded in new dimensions before my brooding eyes. Moments before I was the fool, free to go on reveling in the darkness, happily miserable. But now I had "seen a great light", and was beginning the long, arduous journey toward redemption.
I knew then that I could no longer skirt the issue. What I had taken for a cure, the ecstasy of temporary intoxicated union, was only one of the many learning curves, on the road to…. to what? Could there really be true redemption? Transformation? Enlightenment? All these words still sounded so religious to my newly "liberated" ears... too "heavenly", too... unattainable, unrealistic. The world had long been trained me to be a healthy skeptic. I was schooled in intelligent cynicism, the result being a high-functioning, critically-thinking palace of mind, plastered in jadedness.
The idea of holiness had become a tragic joke. Righteousness a fool’s errand.
“Present!” I called out, but the Spirit was gone. I was left with the scent of cigarette butts and a vacant concept of Now. I wandered through empty corridors, and eerily reverberant chambers. Yesterday’s forms of meaning and purpose now all fading apparitions, cliff-face crumblings in the fist of my new awareness.
I awoke and realized I had dozed off into a shallow sleep troubled by the face of an ex-girlfriend: her indifferent face, always turned from me, laughing at someone else’s story. Hot iron on my heart.
“I should probably get out of this dump”, I thought to myself.
I got up and climbed the steps out of the dark, musty basement, smelling of beer skunk and mold, squinting my eyes at the daylight. It was 1 o’clock. Turned out I wasn’t up before everyone, everyone was gone. A prick of anxiety and shame stabbed my sternum as I reached for my phone. Realizing it was dead, the anxiety rose to a subtle panic. I rushed past the empty beer cans strewn about the living room floor, and walked out the door into a perfect early spring day. The sky was clear, the sun shining, green buds beginning to swell. The beauty oppressed me.
“Why can’t it be rainy and foggy?” I thought.
I had work to do for a College class on Victorian Literature. But instead, I drove home and slept until 6pm. When I woke up I was in a full-fledged panic.
"Bind us anew!" I felt the cry forming inside the knotted place behind my sternum. Not the fully formed imperative, but the prelinguistic urge, the naked intention, the voiceless prayer, the seed not yet sprouted but longing for the light.
"Bind us anew!" I felt rising from the bitter ruins of my adolescent idealism. I knew not to whom I wished to be bound, or who would do the binding. Just the unarticulated yearning for the "other", the fleeing from the nightmare of being locked in a self-made world.
Bind us anew, I to you, you to I. Bind us anew, anew, anew, anew...