What is in a crumb? Not joy, Mary Oliver has said, so what worth then, the crumb? It has matter, if not joy.
Writing is more matter than crumb but when my chronic disease flares, words flee. I wonder where words go; I, too, would like such a refuge. Instead, I sit in fog or that’s what I thought it was until I saw the image of a black hole, darkness in a ring of fire.
Recently, I lost the use of my limbs in a single moment, all four, and then, as if it were a joke, function began to return, as if my limbs had been merely sleeping. The cosmic joke is a favorite pastime of spinal cord disease. Too much joy matters, it seems.
My neurologist is concerned that my spinal cord is compressed–again–so he ordered an MRI, whose actual appointment circled the ring of fire and almost fell into the healthcare black hole but some cosmic force swooped in and approved the test. Within two hours, I had my MRI. Results Monday, maybe sooner.
I thought that’s what I wanted. Turns out, a crumb in hand was more than enough joy. Nothing in life is ever mere matter. Zen and poetry have taught me that. Even in a grain of sand, Blake revealed, there is a world; as for Zen, it is artless. Every. Single. Day.
Just life, moment by moment, one crack after another letting in the light (Leonard Cohen). And yet even with light, life goes on in the dark, requiring some other sense than sight. Such is the lesson of the black hole. It’s surrounded by fire for a reason.
For me, right now, that ring is health and test results are the black hole of the unknown, rather like the future in that regard.
Cataracts are changing how and what I see as is the presence of drusen (fatty deposits behind the retina). As my ophthalmologist told me with far too much glee, “I’ve never seen macular degeneration without drusen.” He does not know the future (maybe not black holes, either) so I stay silent. We’ll see.
I am doing my best to live in instinct rather than chasing thought after thought, as if I could know the black hole without walking through fire. That is not the way of matter, crumb or no.