Richard Byrd was a person and he said “no man can hope to be completely free who lingers within reach of familiar habits” and I remember seeing the dark brown-bronze statue of him in his bear suit and loyal dog companion in its dog suit down beside its great master’s leg in the old public library in one of the towns I grew up in, the one he was from, in fact, and I wondered, amazed as a child should be, about the things before that idealized gaze, majestic and impotent,
and how once upon an insignificant time I sneaked up to what seemed like the attic where the old books were and the old floor was of old, thick greenish glass like shallow seawater with old shelves of old books with spines as dark and browned as that statue lining one side of the overhanging walkway and thin steel railings lining the other and how that statue and that corner of the old structure always seemed connected on what I can only now surmise was a central dot point of wonderment that wandered much like Byrd must have, neither of us knowing better, just feeling our way away, trying it out.
From what chains and constraints did he feel he should break and what might’ve been his perspective on perspective—I wish I could ask someone who knew if he saw it as reciprocal or not and whether how if that informed his explorations and if as he went about he went about thinking “who’d they think I was supposed to be” or did he just go with who he knew he was.
So maybe, knowing better but not knowing his true situation, rather than freedom I’d go out on a glass-floored limb and call it avoidance, not just to be disagreeable but also to poke around, maybe go out so far as to suggest it’d be labeled such from distances both clinical and close, and in so doing showcase my own bad habit of envious dismissal, plowing right through, though, feeling my way, trying it out.
Avoidance, I’d say—a not uncertain term, but not avoidance absolute, I allow, not untouchable, I must admit, to be fairer and fairer, only perhaps some reasonable evasion and mindful circumvention like coping with variations and undulations and topographical obstacles, clinging to what you know but open to changes of attitude and course.
Now that, for sure, I almost utter, feeling better, more honest, coming back around after that brief bout of cantankerousness, sitting on the shore trying not to overhear them the student-types donnishly debate the city Alexander the Great was from as if it’s not perfectly fucking verifiable, especially in this age and day’s network customs and cursory interconnectedness, all of us sitting and watching the same skyline from down around the same corner stretch of lake, shore-perched on giant-sized concrete steps and one of them the student types, girl, another person, not unlike Byrd, chimes in once the debate fizzles into an apparent reverence for the jagged and beautiful urban mass before us and across the water and says I miss London and I hate the way she says it, the way she murders the context to fit her little life’s stupid alibi, no perspective, no esplorare, just subtle impulsive grandstanding which is too much for my newfound peacefulness so I turn around to view them and true to my familiar form don’t say
what but looking will save us from our lingering, what but flight will free us from even the admirable habits of a man named Byrd and the places we’ve been that we mistake for places we’re from, with the nerve to believe we see
and they look at me and their voices stop where mine doesn’t begin and all we share for the time it takes a gull to swoop low and land for a quick trash scavenge is that same bronze deadness I saw all those years and places ago in the revered dead man’s likeness, incompletely free, respective observations of relative lifelessness………
but, I stop myself, perhaps trying, perhaps held in our respective places but able enough by nature’s idle graces to see if we so choose how right in fact the bronze man was before he was bronze, how the loop does ensnare and typify, lingering within reach of our most usual, casual ways of knowing because what it gives us is what seems to be something to hold on to when what we may truly need is a new habit of letting ourselves go—picking up, trying out, being right, being wrong, putting down, moving on, letting go, then doing it all again.