The bear went over the mountain…

Climbing, head bowed in effort, legs churn to crest the apex only to find still another desolate rise taunting the familiar.

“The bear went over the mountain; the bear went over the mountain…” A child’s tedium sing-songs as timeless remnant, nestling in the brain, slowly seeding aged apprehension.

There is no need to strain tired eyes, to look beyond. It’s all okay.

“The bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see…” Louder now; a mocking chorus of Teddies seducing the body to believe.

Legs slowly go into motion, breaking the stasis of logic.

“He saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, and what do you think he did?” A strained chuckle escapes pursed lips, tempting infinity’s wrath.

The child’s voice fades as a tip to fate’s wanton hand, swapped for empty calm, the perfect irony of balm for the old soul.

Where gritty meets sublime

Browsing in a used bookstore the other day, I came across an original hard cover copy of “Where the Wild Things are” by Maurice Sendak, a marvelously playful romp into childhood’s dark side. The story’s hero, Max, escapes the drudgery of parental rules to create his own world of scary creatures where anything seems possible, where life’s exciting beauty traverses the imagination without, for a short time, limit.

Max must eventually return to society’s defined reality, but with the whispered caveat that our secret world of creativity will always be there when needed, when we find that society’s rigidity of form can’t meet the needs of body, mind, or soul.

Can an equilibrium of these three uniquely human traits comfortably coexist in today’s world, and if so, is this even desired?

The pendulum’s swing overshoots the mark in everything we do, both as individuals and in our social groupings, manifesting perpetual struggle and internal and external conflict. Are the impermanent borders between body, mind, and soul the root source of life’s trials, the ultimate reason for the physical, intellectual, and emotional pain that we all must endure at various points of the journey before it transforms beyond our ken through the inevitability of death?

It is not the pursuit of perfection that makes for great art, it is the perceived flaw that makes the masterpiece. Only the spark of imagination can explore where gritty meets sublime, distorting the boundaries between body, mind, and soul, ushering in that unique balance of distress and comfort that makes us human.

This has always been the challenge. In an era of intellectual absolutes, with science transcending toward religion with increasing speed, might the pendulum be moving beyond a moderate range, threatening to decimate our innate hubris, perhaps leaving us to flourish–for a while–where the wild things are?