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Fall rattled up to my door last week. I greeted him in sock-feet. Fall may be a process that we seldom see or don't notice till his work is almost done but, in Arkansas, it often seems like a single moment, as if the world locks up all the warmth it possesses in an instant and puts it under the bed till spring.
There is one big tensing. Water drawn into stems and branches and trunks. The veins of leaves clinging by fingertips to their ledges and balconies. Tannins squeezing chlorophyll by its neck. Days losing sunlight like water from a leaky cup.
And, all the while, we are ... what? We're letting the cat in, we're burning our hands on the kettle, we're holding onto this resentment or that. We're adding a sunroom, we're subtracting the love we feel from the love we give, we're turning around because we forgot the eggs, which were the reason we went in the first place.
Rather than fashioning tools, man's greatest calling is to be absorbed in a single moment — without before or after — and remember that we are living. It's a moment in which we cherish the world's goodness, or love its beauty, or at the very least, know its truth on its own terms. It's a spark where we grasp the order of things, however cruel, or gorgeous, or harrowing.
That moment is scarce, and maybe more than that, it's scary, because cherishing requires nothing down. But its interest rate is loss. We know that however much love we take in now will be drawn away from us someday, into the stems and branches and trunks, down into the roots, and to the next thing.
And so we're left empty but for our feelings. We're angry. We can't figure out why it matters. We quit. We shake our fists at the sky. We make a big show as we walk away, but then turn around to see if anyone was looking. We ask for an answer, but all we find is a little man tripping down the lane away from us into the distance muttering "Esse qua esse bonum est" over and over again, and we throw a rock at him because we know he's right.
We are like bad boyfriends to our lives. We love them and we hate it that we love them so much. We give them a flower from the yard. We make them promises we don't keep.
We treat our days as something to pass through to get somewhere else, and when we do that, we lose them. It's the same way we lose a week, or a month, or a whole life.
Death can at least be a reminder of that. That is death's only consolation.
I imagine a Lisa in her 70s, looking back at photos of herself and her loved ones from 30 years ago, or from her wedding day, or from now. I imagine her saying, "We were so beautiful. ... We were all so goddamned beautiful."
The moment last week when fall came was one of those moments. I felt as if something had happened, but I didn't know what. I knew that the world felt a little bit colder. I knew I was alive.
Fayetteville-born actress Lisa Blount was found dead in her Hillcrest home last Wednesday. She was 53. An Oscar winner as a producer for "The Accountant," Blount was perhaps best known for her role in the film "An Officer and a Gentleman." She also starred in the title role of "Chrystal," directed by her husband Ray McKinnon. Recently, she'd been inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame and was working on "Outlaw Country," a television pilot set in Nashville starring Mary Steenburgen.