UPDATE – Marc passed away in April 2016, it’s been hard to process his death
Over the past 10 years Marc (Spartacus) and I have maintained superficial contact with the odd e-mail and facebook interactions. We met when he was about 24, hopefully he turned 50 this month. He now lives (lived?) in England and I in South Africa. He went missing about 2 months ago and seems untraceable. I fear the worst.
Don’t be gone Spartacus, don’t be gone. I have no need or desire to see you again, after 16 years of dreaming and longing we found our beginning and 3 months from then our comet of passion blazed to earth and turned to dust. Now 9 years later I am at peace, truly happy and with the man who was meant for me, the right fit. Still don’t be gone Spartacus, don’t be gone. I don’t know why it matters so but it does. It matters that you are out there somewhere, it matters that we were once young and beautiful. The memories don’t need you to stay alive. That day in the Umgeni valley, you sitting on a rock playing guitar under the African sun, the soul song of a fish eagle in the distance, the notes of it’s call resonating against the cliffs. That day doesn’t need you to stay alive …. or does it, would your death rob the past of life? The letters we wrote, you in the army, me in college, our pens galloped so far ahead of where we were in the physical world. Months or was it years later? We spent a few hours together in a smoky bar ? We couldn’t catch up with our words, strangers caught between 2 worlds grateful for the music muting speech. Then you vanished, we married others had children, lived separate lives, divorced, almost forgot. Then 16 years later found again, more letters, more longing. When you arrived back in South Africa and claimed me as yours what bliss in you holding me at last, but stronger forces had a grasp on you.
I met Cliff soon after you left again 9 years ago, I made a big mistake, I told him that you were my ‘unrequited love’ he has felt the shadow of those words all these years. I wish I could take them back, those words don’t describe what I felt. I had a teenage crush on you, you were beautiful, enchanting, you were a warrior, you were a ‘bad boy’. If back when I was a teen we had been involved in a relationship, it would not have worked out (we were never destined to be a couple), my longing would have passed. Remaining out of reach for so long allowed me to create a mythical you. The myth grew, a wonderful fantasy! You are (or were, oh please don’t be gone) a free spirit, an untamed thing, you rage and you burn. When we eventually had a brief relationship the moth / fire analogy didn’t work. Perhaps my shadow self was drawn to your dark side, what light and joy could ever grow in that place? We may have heard the same music but our dance would have always been out of step, I would have been a wooden marionette, jerking without rhythm, I would never have been able to follow your steps. I may think myself a rebel in many respects but at the core I am cautious, responsible and duty bound, I would have felt like a small, petty mother Grundy, you would have felt smothered and caged. I loved the idea of you. It was always best for me to admire you from afar. Why does it matter to know that you are somewhere out there, living, being Spartacus? Perhaps you embody the me I would sometimes like to be, wild and free. You and my schoolgirl self spoke at length about freedom and how freedom has chains, can anyone live untethered? Are you free now? Just don’t be gone Spartacus, don’t be gone.
At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment.
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.
And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?
If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.
And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride?
And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.
Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.