Last Night of the Festival

‘I wrote this several years ago, maybe in 2014. It is not so well written, but there are ideas and images in it which still resonate with me and which I should make a point to remind myself of more often. This is why I placed it in the ‘Meditations’ section of my website.’

They arrived at the village gates with anticipation welling up inside of them, and the forest swept the couple up with both arms like it was happy to have them back. The sun had set behind the mountains, and the little white lights above the pathways shone bright under a twilit canopy and amidst the village tents, which punctuated the dark trees beyond with the warm light spilling over the brim of their shelter. The leaves and summer flowers were tempered by the night’s chill and drew in upon themselves, and the forest’s rustling sounded like the shuffling of trees and brush moving closer together, as if they sought something akin to the golden warmth that was so obviously abundant underneath the tent roofs, where people were gathered to share the stories of their weekend. There was general agreement among the crowd that the experience of the festival could be likened to that of a life condensed into three days, and it must have been for this reason that the words which were being passed around the tents seemed to carry a certain weight, like that of history. Exactly what they had done with themselves and their time in the grounds was gaining more clarity with each second that rolled by: their memories were slowly surfacing from the star-spotted haze of breathless action, and it was to be the weekend’s ending which would give it lasting colour in their minds, as if it were only in the finale that one could count on a defining moment.

For now they were fine without a defining moment. They did not want to dam the breathless flow of their last night, and so they did not look up into the distance—into that horizon, where time is endlessly devoured and renewed, and many lives slip out of the hands into which they are given. One never wants to think about such turns of fate in the moment. It was enough that they knew the end would come. And, as it turned out, this was when they were able to move with the most freedom and confidence: ten thousand souls proceeded to give themselves over to each gesture and each syllable uttered as if an universe could be encapsulated in their every movement, lending form to scenes ready to be carved into relief above the archways of a grand temple they knew would never be built, while they made promises to themselves and to each other to form lasting memories of the weekend’s isolated epoch. These eternal revellers emerged from the moments within which they had given themselves with something like statuesque resolution etched into every fibre of their limbs. They breathed heavily, ready to declare outright that time was in fact a deeply personal thing, so long as they insisted upon it intensely. They did all that they could to ensure that the experiences they now shared of the ephemeral world of the festival remained unobstructed by the ticking of a clock nearby, for they were well aware that the fall of the weekend promised to be similar to that of a monument, and they scoffed at the delicate little arbiter who chimed away with such officious duty while it dared to entertain the thought that it could prevent both time and space from collapsing under the weight of it, their conviction. They enjoyed the sweeping mountain air, cooler than it had been the previous two nights, while they tumbled through the grounds, bright eyed and smiling, and engaged every moment with supple and generous ease. The cloak of night unravelled, it’s true, but in an endless string of infinities, and between all of the dancing and the playful explorations there arose a  merry and ingenuous joke among the village inhabitants that the otherwise plain patch of forest which they had dared to call their own might have in turn laid claim to them—and just as inevitably, that weekend. It might have happened during the storm. Perhaps, when they had burned their wishes in the fires, the forest had breathed them in.

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