How are you?
I probably shouldn’t ask. However, I can’t help hoping things have changed, after having so much time to reflect? Any regrets? Or, did you finally find what you were looking for? Indeed, have I woken up the wrong dead poet and should’ve left you alone?
Of course curiosity beckons. Have you finally experienced William Blake’s “doors of perception” and are in a different zone:
If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite
For man has closed himself up, till he sees
all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
Sorry I’m so full of questions but it’s not every day you get to speak with Jim Morrison. Your songs still move me. Move mountains of people!
However, as yet, you haven’t said a word. There’s only silence.
So, what should I do? Leave you alone or venture in? Turn on the light?
Unexpectedly, I spot a ladder sticking out of a hole in the road. Curiosity beckons. Where are you? Hiding somewhere within this subterranean labyrinth and is this some kind of unconventional invitation to come inside? You’re not making it easy to find you! The more you play hard to get, the more doubts I have. Should I really be risking self-destruction dancing with the dark side, when I have so much to lose?
However, I have no choice!
After all, when you talk about famous graves, yours is almost tops the list.
I remember when I was last here at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Summer 1992. The crowds were contemplatively gathered around your grave and all roads led to “JIM”. It was all quite strange, surreal. Why would anyone seek answers from someone who seemingly combusted in the dark? I don’t know. Yet, I was there too…taking photos.
Of course, the crowds probably don’t know you’re a poet. No! You’re Jim Morrison the legendary singer from The Doors. Yet, you also wrote and published your own poems. They mattered and were part of you, just like my poems are an intrinsic part of me.
Now, I am back and staring at the ladder sticking out of the road. Instinct tells me to simply walk away. I’m now a grown-up, married, kids, mortgage, two dogs…I don’t need to dabble in the dark and should be sticking to “sunny side up”!
Yet, what did I say about The Road Not Taken? Being a traveller exploring new worlds? If I didn’t know better, you could even mistake this hole for a certain rabbit burrow and I can almost envision the Mad Hatter’s tea party going on down below.
There is no holding back. I’m poised on the edge of the ladder ready to explore the depths of who you were and what happened, even if this only is a fleeting stop on my way through an A-Z of dead poets.
I hope you’re not offended but this could well be a quicker stop than most. I don’t want to get bogged down and consumed by the dark. At the same time, knowing there are people drowning right in front of me, how can I just switch off? Switch off the light when these seekers need it most?
As you said:
We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.
Indeed, I wonder if they’re desperately seeking the light but have somehow lost their way and wound up here… sitting round your grave lighting candles expecting goodness knows what.
Perhaps, I should say hello. Give them an Aussie “G’day Mate” and see how they respond. After all, this journey isn’t just about me and staying in my comfort zone but also turning myself inside out and all that entails. Think with my heart and reach out.
Once you think with your heart, you have to move beyond self-preservation. Step far beyond your comfort zone and walk right out onto that ledge. You can no longer retreat and play it safe. The eyes of your heart have seen. You can’t turn back. After all, I was lost in Paris once and no one let me drown. My friends held on.
That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid.
Paralysed at the top of the ladder, I’m absolutely terrified. My body’s glued to the spot, although my breathing’s accelerated like a locomotive and is moving into full throttle. Just when I need to have my wits switched on, everything is spinning, whirling all around me in a pixelated haze. I want to make it stop. Slow down. Put on the brakes. But I can’t. I’m only a spectator caught inside your head. Or to be precise, still peering in over the edge. Your sub-conscious is lurking down below and as much as I want to get close and unlock its secrets, I don’t want to fall in. Get stuck in the abyss.
Tentatively, I take a step down through this dark and slippery slime. Then, another.
It’s so dark, pitch-black and the rain’s pouring in. Any moment I could slip and fall to my death. Hush! Someone ‘s crying. Crying so much, there’s a flood. They’ve been crying for so long, all around that lump of stone… your eternal home. You’re all around here. All roads lead to “JIM” as if you had all the answers. So hard to understand when you somehow lost yourself?
Back in July 1992, I also sat by your grave. I wasn’t looking there for answers but I’d already had words with Rodin’s The Thinker as well as Mona Lisa. Neither could explain why I’d been dumped in Paris, the so-called “city of love”. Or, why my heart was ripped unceremoniously out of my chest and dumped in the River Seine. My love was too much and I was simply left deserted at Gare du Nord with my life in my backpack and four plastic shopping bags. Like so many, I only saw love’s roses and forgot all about the thorns!
Why did it have to hurt so much? Completely crushed and yet somehow I still woke up. Escaped oblivion.
I wasn’t alone. While I was talking poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop, I met another of love’s broken casualties. With his husky Gauloises -Brooklyn accent, his lover had hurled his guitar over the edge of Pont Neuf and into the River Seine. Now, all he had left were his poems. Actually, I think he might’ve slept at the Shakespeare and was what they called “a Tumbleweed”. I don’t know.
Anyway, after all these years, you’ve become a destination on a tourist map. Somewhere to say you’ve been. Have a selfie with Jim! Am I the only one who finds that weird? Then again, as my kids keep reminding me, writing letters to dead poets is weird. Selfies are actually normal but a very strange kind of normal. I am conspicuously absent from my photos but just you try taking a selfie with an SLR? It’s very hit and miss.
Oh! Perhaps, I should’ve told you that we’ve stopped using phones to call people and now use them as cameras and for sending texts and photos. Indeed, we post photos of ourselves on this place called Facebook saying: “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” You would have loved it! Just think how many friends you would’ve had, although I doubt they would have saved you!
All I can say, is that sometimes we crawl way too deep inside our own darkness . Even when the chips are down, we still need to edge towards the light, without burning up in the flame. Easier said than done.
Actually, I’m wondering where my own head will be after being immersed in this poetry soup for over a month. You would think all this poetry would be uplifting. However, if that’s the case, why have so many poets flown straight over the edge?
Balance. That’s the key and that’s what I have in my family. These supposedly annoying interruptions to the flow, might actually be bringing my feet back down to earth and keeping me grounded. Right now that includes dealing with a crazy mutt who rolled in something dead and is off to the shower. It seems even my interruptions are getting “creative”.
Goodnight Jim. I hope you’re okay.
This is the latest in my series of Letters to Dead Poets for the April Blogging A-Z Challenge. For a list of previous letters, click here: Alphabet Soup A-H.