Walking home I stop. The neighborhood rabbi sits at the window table of the corner cafe. Outside, I stand alongside him. Shoulder to shoulder. Only a pane of glass between us. He's far too absorbed now to look up and notice me observing.
His hands hover over his laptop, poised. His fingertips are listening. He's reading the previous sentence of the paragraph he'd just been writing. Noted author of dozens of wonderful mystical books, he's halfway through his second novel now. He writes without outline. No plan. No preconceptions. Nothing is predetermined. Jazz. Right now he wrinkles his nose. Occasionally he tightens his jaw. A speechwriter by trade for 30 years, he naturally says what he sees. The words, to himself, silently. Lines. Phrases. Sounding it all out.
Then with a quick decisive nod, his fingers begin tapping the keys. I neither see nor hear his writing. Yet there's no separation between us. Not even the words. What I'm witnessing comes from a place where maybe only a few words at best ever really become known. I'm wondering at what's happening, wondering what's next, and so is he, and we're both listening. Only a pane of glass between us. I almost hear the first letter as an animated wedding-ring finger starts to type. G, maybe, below middle C — as palpable and tactile as a bass note in Bach. Other letters fall in line, forming a word. Word: words. Marks upheld by silence. The morning light soft and pervasive, like liquid. A rabbi once said, "No matter how much ink anyone can spill, they'd never invent a single letter of the alphabet." The local rabbi is engaged in this mystery with body, spirit, and mind as one. You can watch his entire body breathing, cells invisibly quivering. Limitless mind without fixing it anywhere. Love for all beings.
He still doesn't notice me gawking. The woman next to him does, an honeybearish blonde, reading the Sunday paper. While eating. Never quite fully eating, never quite fully reading. The two parallel physiological activities meeting in one body with only a common rhythm between them, the cadence of her jaw, eating, the lips moving silently over the words, like slightly out-of-synch cogs that seem to mesh but there's a wobble to the wheels. She pays me no mind. She glances away from me as if I'm a mere distraction from a more important distraction within a bigger distraction.
At a right angle to the rabbi in the baseball cap and blonde honeybear, a young mother is sitting at the round table in the center of the cafe. She's talking to her two-year-old, teaching something. Some lesson is going on. No book. A life lesson.
Meanwhile, the rabbi's finishing a phrase. Now he's reading it in sequence, seeing how it follows from the sentences leading up to it. He rests one hand on his cheek, then intently rubs the side of one finger below his mustache. Every facet of his actions all of a piece. This incredible mystic novel still being written. The whole universe. Or, as he'd put it, with but a hair's breadth of difference, all of creation. I could stand here forever or move on. I've watched him begin a year ago, and am happy this moment at least is going well, regardless of the words being hidden. Only he knows what he's reading. He's reading only what he's writing. Then he's done with the passage and his consciousness extends outwards again. It's as if he were plant expending all its energy to blossom, and now becomes aware of the larger environment at hand.
A big theatrical look of shock flashes across his expressive face, as he pretends to be startled to see me, hands up in the air then waving me in to come and join him for a spell. A bagel. A cup of tea.
the sound of someone typing
freshness in the air
Causes Gary Gach Supports
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