Even before he passes through the doorway, the bubbling sound of chatter reaches his hearing. Upon entering the sunlit room and registering the faces, he connects the chatter with their rotund cheeks and upturned mouth corners. The jovial smiles and lively conversation complement the sunlight and join with the mindfully hung works of art to create a presence in the room beyond just the physical objects and the people. Something is alive here, like a happy childhood memory, the comfort of companions partaking in idle time on summer's porch, with sipped lemonade and uproarious jokes. Their eyes flash playfully to one another, glistening with the vibrancy of shared experience and empathic connection.
Joining the group affords little time for analysis of the available spots to sit. He glances quickly at the spot on the couch next to the man with the yoga t-shirt and the hilarious comments, intimidating in his conversational skill, but with glistening eyes and a genuine, friendly presence. His eyes dart to the floor near the serenely grounded, earthily beautiful woman with the clear, open face and colorful pants. He sits down on the floor next to her, hoping that his entrance was not unduly disruptive, that it was graceful and acceptable. He leans back into the bracing cool of the wall, willing his body to relax, daring now to take better stock of the faces, trying to smile in a friendly way, reaching out for acceptance and welcome.
He picks up the thread of the conversation as it moves quickly across the topical landscape. Smoothly shifting segues slide seamlessly across subjects, imbuing the dialog with life. It becomes a creature of wild sophistication, of assonance and consonance, sibilance and resonance. Circling the room, their laughter is her laughter; their gestures, her gestures. As they ride the creature on her crest of credulousness, she cycles through a rainbow of colors and moods, by turns laughing and serious, whimsical and profound. Every now and then she snatches a curious inviting glance at him as if to say, "hop on."
He tries to think of what might be of interest to them, feeling an imperative to select just the right bits from his rich internal world. He would reveal exactly what would make him accepted as part of the group, as a trusted confidant, as someone worthy of respect, as a comforting and congenial presence. But his contribution would have to ride with the conversation, this wild, unpredictable creature. He studies the creature and her conjurers. He notices every detail: her multicolored scales, her comical whiskers, her slender writhing body and lolling head. She looks like a giant iguana but is lighter than air and translucent like smoke. Her legs are stubby with clawed feet on their ends. A massive head sits upon her dirigible shoulders, adorned with an oxymoronic beard. The creature seems to have a murky imprecision to her presence. He considers this a possible opening to the conversation, as a way to add precision and clarity, and to bring the creature into stark relief for all to see.
He tries to shake off the oncoming waves of anxious paralysis, trying to build courage for the moment when he would grab hold and mount this creature. The opening comes. There is a pause. He feels the attention in the room turn to him. The creature has stopped right in front of him, winking her mischievous black eye in an obvious overture. The riders are reaching out their minds' hands to help him onto her back.
"Just go," he thinks, masking a small shudder inside of a nervous chuckle. He opens his mouth and listens to his tongue and lips relate the richness of his experience as pertains to his vision of the precise creature. It is deep and clever, endearingly clumsy and slightly sardonic. He winces as he finishes, staring at the floor, waiting for the response, for the continuation of the conversation, for the rush of adrenaline that would accompany the wild ride.
His mouth closes upon an awkward silence. Something shifts in the room. Turning his eyes imperceptibly up from the floor, he sees the creature twitching dimly in front of him, its scales the color of ash and its eyes rolled back in its head, dying. Space collapses and time stops. The sunbeams streaming through the windows freeze. Motionless faces look at him caught halfway between expectation and curiosity. A sudden weight of responsibility crushes down upon his shoulders. He concludes that he must have said the wrong thing, although he cannot fathom how or why this might be so. A darkly buzzing veil of miscomprehension engulfs his head. He fidgets with a button on his shirt to deflect the embarassment, his mind reeling to find some way to ressurect the creature, or to disappear. He wishes he had not spoken.
Moments resume their relentless actualization. Finally someone taps the reins of a different subject, and with a flourish of deft words, tinges of color reappear in the creature's scales. She twitches back into motion, staggers to her feet and turns away from him. The riders work valiantly to recover the mood. It is an inspiring effort, a transcendent magic. He stares fixedly at the molecules of air in the center of the room, balancing on the fulcrum between embarrassment and gratitude as the ressurected creature and her conjuring masters resume their magical ride.
He sits alone against the wall, isolated now from the others conversing just a breath away. He may as well have been in the next room or on another planet, and he secretly wishes he was. He watches their ideas come and go, now congealing into groups, then spinning off new fanciful notions. The creature ignores him completely as she makes her playful rounds. He resists the urge to assert himself in another attempt, succumbing to an overriding sense of futility.
He chuckles inwardly as he considers the exchange of power in this interaction. They are wild and righteous creatures, conversations, but also delicate and susceptible to confusion and subterfuge. Killing the conversation is no triumph, yet he finds that somehow, inadvertently, he has prodigious skill at it. Tricks of his subconscious become transparent as his mind formulates things called "reasons why." He is a virtuoso, or so he's told. But that it would be in such a peculiar antisocial manner, that was the comic crux of cosmic conundrum.
He leans his head back against the unyielding wall and closes his eyelids, staring out of the window through them. Relaxing syntax, he lets the yellow-orange retinal glow ignite his intuition. Feeling. Flow. Cooperation. Receiving and giving acceptance. Letting each person come into their own. Not knowing, honestly. It is the illusion of clarity that kills. Ambiguity is the fertile field of magic. And poetry. There exists words to conjure any animal in the excruciating, irrefutable present. Speaking and not speaking are two ways of participating, thus the real act of power is in showing up, in presence, in the present. In that he is unmistakably human, undeniably equal. In breath and heartbeat there is nothing to prove, nothing to say. Conversations may live and die over the range from parsing pain to contagious laughter. Only silence is forever.