|Illustration by Gianni de Conno, with more information here. Again, thanks to Alice Vegrova.|
When I saw Gianni de Conno's illustration of the wizard and the tethered fish, I declared love. From the stoop of his back, we know the wizard is not an apprentice. He is venerable, possibly ancient, the real deal. Who else would be involved in such an audacious stunt?
In the nicest thing he ever said to or about us, my father dedicated one of his books to my brother, sister and me, labeling us as practicing magicians. My wizardly longings are less about spells than about knowing the secrets, which may be where writers and wizards intersect. The magnitude of simply knowing, of seeing, ingesting, interpreting, translating, being the instrument of metamorphosis in order to do the job well demands brass I never really expected of myself. In the middle of the night my waking and sleeping dreams allow me to soar. Some mornings I retain the sense of possibility, some mornings my gold has reverted to lead before I've written a word.
This weekend the CBS Sunday Morning show was their "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" edition, all about food and foodish matters. I arrived in time to see Lidia Bastianich: Food is what connects us, and be ignited by her passion. It was one of those moments when the mystery dissolves and the now wide-awake mind realizes that passion is the only cure for all that ails us. To see her caress the pasta, hear her speak of how she must touch food, was to feel in my cells that any response to life which blazes less brightly than a comet's tail is not going to suffice.
Living passionately requires energy, even madness of a sort. There is no room for ambivalence and depression, even if only occasional, is a classic passion extinguisher. I see it as riding a horse, full gallop but having to stop every half-mile or so to move an obstruction off the path. It is not momentum anyone else would recognize, yet if every delay or interruption is followed by a fresh and undiscouraged forward hurtle, well, I have to assume passion can be kept glowing if not aflame by sips rather than gulps.
What Lidia Bastianich said to me in the secret language I've decided we share is that the heat of loving something or everything is what has always saved me, that it will continue to save me, even on days when I have egg beater hair and vision that looks mostly to the rear with tear-inducing regret and spasms of paralyzing shame. These are my issues, or as Monty Python would say, "amongst" my issues which does not mean they are real. Wizard wisdom could tell the difference, horse sense could tell the difference.
Grab selfishly at every bright-burning image, thought, gesture. Throw your arms around all that speaks to your heart. A friend of my son reported finding a story on-line the other day of a woman who married a ferris wheel. I imagine an ordained wizard performed the ceremony.