Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Once More to Strawberry Fields

You are larger than life.

Your friends adore the way you can be, at once, irreverent toward authority and amazed by the divine. But your friends aren't with you today; they all work on Monday, and you will never tell them about your sojourns in Strawberry Fields. You itch at the thought that they might comment, "Don't you have anything better to do with your time."

But today you will sit on a bench and read Kamir's and Mirabai's ecstatic poems and forget you even have friends.

You were reluctant to leave your apartment today, not just because the weather has turned since yesterday and is now offering the cold gusts that roll off the plains of the Midwest, but because yesterday's venture to Strawberry Fields ended in such a random act of strangeness. (You can’t get that super model, with her tattooed thigh and suicide-victim grandma, off your mind). You hope such an encounter doesn’t happen again, but things like that happen to you all the time, even in your own home.

Oddly, no one is here at this hour, not a truant, homeless, or ascetic in sight. You are alone. No tourists are arranging roses over the mosaic. Not a soul shooting photographs.

But one unexpected object is hanging around here, dangling at the edge of the sacred circle: one shoe—a black, Adidas street sneaker. The laces are missing and the shoe is stretched in sad shape, as if the foot that once wore it was much too wide and tried, with more desperation than Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, to force a too-big foot to fit.

One shoe. Abandoned. Without companion. One shoe next to that one word


The sight now makes the word more than just the word. Now you see a command. Imagine where that shoe has been. Imagine its owner who must now be hobbling along with only one shoe. Imagine where that person is now and how chilly the shoeless foot must feel.

No. You want to rebel. You want to resist the temptation to imagine. You don’t want to imagine just because the mosaic icon, the memorial to John Lennon, is insisting that you imagine…imagine…imagine. As if now, just because so many travelers come to pay their respects, this word, attractor of flowers and devotional objects, has somehow taken on authority of its own. You’ve been searching for an opportunity to rebel against your inclination to imagine (as some friends have characterized your imagination as, let’s just say, categorically overactive). Well, here is your opportunity to revolt.

Do not imagine where that shoe has been, though your mind may have already conceived the novel, the screenplay, the Broadway musical adaptation, the HBO special series: The Strawberry Fields Mysteries.

No. No. Leave that story untold.

You have been there before, to that taboo realm that urges you to imagine. What visited you in that realm delighted you as much as it broke your heart. But remark, carefully, what it would mean for you to ignore the command to


Sit. You are ready to wait. Now you are preparing for the Visitor, the Guest, the Secret One, the one coming to deliver the Gift. Believe it or not, sometimes the Guest even wishes that the word said


Rather, you read poems and rub your eyes, and it is still there:


The Guest is on the way. The Guest will arrive in Strawberry Fields, maybe this December. Maybe next. Maybe decades hence. If you wish to receive your secret visitor, stay quiet and keep reading, and (here's a hint)

"Imagine all the people sharing all the world."

Maybe, you start to imagine, that shoe was left here by the Guest?


You have been told, and you have a feeling, the Guest will bring the Voices.

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