Sunday, March 16, 2014
Have you ever seen a turquoise the size of a hen's egg or a viridescent aquamarine the shade of the deepest tropical lagoon? Have you ever seen an emerald which is so purely green you are lulled, and nearly mesmerized, by its perfect green-ness? It is like the pulse-quickening green of a viper whiplashing through the dense sea of grass moving now about your ankles. Imagine the thrilling green of a jungle viper twisting around an overly-ripe pomegranate: lush. I'm thinking of things which are rich and deep and lush and verdant.
It was not uncommon, where I grew up in rural Texas, for elderly ladies to have as their names the names of precious or semi-precious stones: Opal, Pearl; one of my great-grandmothers was named Ruby. I think there was one woman named Gem. Even my Granny Billie's dog was called Jasper. No Emerald though.
Something else green comes to mind: the deep, emerald green of my own envy-fueled lust. Specifically, it is a highly-active and envious lust for a certain archetype of butch man not unlike, perhaps, "the great dark man" of Quentin Crisp's youthful fantasy. There is, to me, a distinction between jealousy and envy: jealousy is a fear of losing something one already possesses, envy is being desirous of that which another possesses. The boy who lives inside me will think that he wants such-and-such man and his healing balm of approval so badly that he yearns for both with an intensely lustful and envious, green possessiveness. His habitual, compulsive and hyper-comparative thinking only glaringly clarifies to himself his own inability to measure up, simultaneously robbing him of any chance to understand his own real worth. Instead he is left feeling empty and alone and still deeply inadequate as a male person. This emptiness then compels him again and again to seek out the sexual approval of some man, or the acquisition of his much-admired masculine traits via the tandem, escapist use of fantasy, pornography and substances. The boy's song it, "I Could Do Anything if I Were You". Doesn't he sing this quietly all the time to some male or another with swagger who catches his attention; whoever passes by that fits his template of virility? "I could do anything if I were you...". He puts it all on like an overcoat that is much too large for his small frame; like his father's coat. Of course it doesn't fit; it isn't supposed to. Even with the understanding that he cannot, he longs to possess that type of masculinity within himself. So, he puts on the overly-large overcoat and looks at his reflection in the mirror, and lowering his voice to a gruff decibel, chants words to himself which he thinks that type of man might say. He play-pretends.
The emeralds and rubies and vipers of earlier make me think of the Orient and of opium and of the warm, smoky allure of the opium den. I don't know how other addict artists maintain an active body of creative work at all. My own energies, when I've engaged in drunken revelry, have usually bee wholly consumed by lustful pursuits. Substances have acted as padding for my boy to stuff into the arms and pockets of the too-big coat; convincing material.
"See...it does, too, fit!" he crows triumphantly at me.
It is easier for me to agree with him at the point when I've reached sufficient intoxication and begin to think that the coat does make him look like a man, the padding even looking like muscles instead of wadded-up newsprint. Inadequacy plus escapism is a heady cocktail indeed, like a sweet, green, insanity-inducing liqueur.
To assuage the ache of his empty woundedness, all the boy knows how to do is play-pretend. Behaviorally, it is inauthentic, yet there is an authentic need there. What is it? What is the shape of the emptiness inside him? Isn't his true need this: to accept that he is good enough?
I know that I have a Heavenly Father and that He "knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13), that I am, "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), and that He made me the best Jade he could imagine. He accepts me. If I am good enough for the god of the universe, why am I not good enough for me?
A short time ago, God entrusted to me a gift for the boy, "a richly ornamented robe" (Genesis 37:3) like Joseph's Biblical coat of many colors, a Heavenly gift from his Heavenly Father who wants him to know, "My son, this is how I see you".
I imagine the boy's robe mounted like the ephods of the tabernacle priests of Moses' time, with his favorite semi-precious stones: malachite, lapis lazuli, leopard jasper, cabochons of garnet, and probably a fair smattering of milky green jade.
"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared."
It occurs to me as I begin to make some sense of the murky trek I've trod through self-loathing, substance abuse and sexual obsession that in "The Wizard of Oz", just before Dorothy and her troupe of unlikely heroes enter the beautiful Emerald City, they do get mired down in a field of seductive opium poppies. There was hope, however, and "hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5), and in the end they ran joyously from that poisonous place and straight up to the gates of the glorious city. Hope, like faith or love, is often not a feeling, but is always a commitment one makes - and which is renewed by God again and again - reminding one of His promise that it is there.
date of writing: November 6th, 2013