And perhaps, Brian Harrison has found himself
This contest has revealed the first loves of many to be a man, a woman, self, a pizza, nature, and perhaps an extra terrestrial. But here we have an entry true to my own heart: a first love of words, and not just any words–the words of a poet. Brian Harrison has been in Korea and China for several years now, doing missionary work, if I am correct, and sharing his love of language with students abroad. It is good to have him back, and we are all indebted to him for he was the one who encouraged Peggy Dobbs to dig through the bottom of her chest of drawers and begin sending in her stories to us, which she did faithfully until left the planet.
Welcome back, Brian, and thanks for this story.
Some People Wanna Fill the World
by Brian Harrison
That was when my sweetheart uttered those words, “Ralph Waldo Emerson”.
We were sitting in a hotpot restaurant in China. Noisiness all around, people disconnected from each other staring like bloodless statues into their phones.
I was far away from home, and even further, it felt, from my youth and its simplicity.
She was taking this class in American Literature and would often tell me of what was covered. The name of Emerson was brought up, and my mind lingered on his writings in my youth, and I began to speak on how I used to carry this book of Emerson’s essays around with me. Passages underlined, and I used to memorize quotes from it, and in the middle of the conversation, chopsticks laid down, and a gulp of beer, my gaze looked off into some memory or impression far from the sordid walls and the empty chit chat of what I perceived to be money and test scores.
And my eyes began to water, the emotion was hitting me directly like a swell from the ocean that I had forgot I was in. I don’t know where it came from. My girlfriend looked at me, and always quick to perceive said, “Are you crying?”
The tears stood there without falling, beckoning an explanation, for I rarely cry. I began saying that it was an impression I haven’t felt in a long time, that the vision was so pure in those days. I was 17 or 18 and the words when I read them communicated something so powerful, so intoxicating, but yet truth itself. Something of the connectedness of everything. An image flashed of some barely held-onto dream of a memory going out into the woods, to nature, standing on top of a cliff and the feeling that the breath of life was moving in radiant cycles, of sunbeams breaking on tree branches and the horizon golden-clad merging into silver clouds. And the sound of the wind wafting against the firs and pines causing them to sway and crack and yet it was as though all of nature was singing. And I heard the call, but yet I had always heard it, but I never knew it had words until I heard the trees and skies singing it, and Emerson saying it… All of nature was alive and to be breathing was to be a part of some immaculate symphony of all ages, of all life. I took this feeling, once, and tried writing a poem about it. And I had since nearly forgotten about it.
I glanced about me. Three large empty Qingdao bottles lie there, and I felt myself being pulled back into the push and rush of people hungry for systems, for empty expectations, money, and to feel that they were alive and connected to something real.
The memories dissipated into the sickly cynicism and the biting rage of the oncoming struggle to live at peace in such a noisy, noisy, though silent world.