The rightful king

The real me is so different from the way I look on the outside. – Dolly Parton

Joggeur en t-shirt bleu (9 April 2020)

Brooklyn, April 2020. The city is quiet, a ghost town. Those of us who don’t have the luxury of escaping to houses in the Hamptons or other far away places are confined to our apartments where everything is happening on Zoom, or not at all. You live on Adelphi Street, between Myrtle and Park Avenue, a couple blocks from Fort Greene Park. It’s a blessing. You are out there every morning and every evening, to jog sometimes, but mostly to walk. You have taken to doing these walks in silence. No podcasts. No music. No phone calls to your mother. Just you and your thoughts regarding the questions popping up in the literature you are reading at this particular point in your life: Who is God? Who am I?1

Regarding God, last you knew, that guy was a volatile, emotionally unstable, narcissistic bully with a hair across his ass. In your undergraduate senior thesis, titled Driving, you had intellectualized him right out of the proverbial car. You had put yourself behind the wheel and driven away, never to think of him again. Until now.

As for you, you are just another Brooklyn-dwelling forty-something divorcée with fake boobs. Right? True, but only in this precise moment. A year ago, only three of these descriptors would have applied. Ten years ago, none of them would have. And if the forty-something part of the definition has an expiration date, perhaps the other parts do as well.

Water stain for Joggeur en t-shirt bleu

Who am I, then? you ask.

Let me show you, art says.

And you paint the bird.

Le Roi des oiseaux (15 April 2020)
Pigeon poop dropping for Le Roi des oiseaux

The bird stands tall. He holds his head high, puffs up his chest. He wears a big red crown, bright blue pants, and a flowing red and white cape. At his waist, a wide golden belt. On his face, a magnificent golden beak reminiscent of a weapon. The manner in which the bird holds his body, and everything about the way he is dressed suggests deep confidence and total control. The bird is in charge. The bird is king. The bird is you.

But if you are the bird, then you are an imposter. You have put yourself on the throne and made yourself king over what is not yours to rule: your life. One would need incredible wisdom and infinite knowledge to do such a thing justly. What do you have but forty-four insignificant little years’ worth of experience from which to draw? It’s flimsy and preposterous, like the misshapen crown on your head.

If you are the bird, then you are also an illusionist. The manner in which you hold your body, and everything about the way you are dressed suggests deep confidence and total control. What a laugh! Again, I repeat: you have forty-four insignificant little years under your belt. It’s less than nothing. You are not even remotely equipped to be in control of anything, let alone your one precious life. You can’t see a thing from underneath that mask tied over your face, for starters. And look at those wings! They are too poorly proportioned to the weight of your body to offer any solid stability, never mind flight. As for your legs, it’s a wonder you can even hold yourself up on those skinny little things. They don’t even have feet!

Who are you, you ask? Let me tell you.

In the grand scheme of things, in the long history of the universe, you are but a child. You know nothing; you understand even less. Which means that if your life is a car, you have absolutely no business being behind the wheel. You must hand the keys over to the one who knows the road because he made the road. The one who never stopped traveling by your side, even after you kicked him out of the car. You must hand the keys over to God. The king. The rightful king.

  1. Indeed, who is she? See Left to right. ↩︎

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