I awoke as a lilly. The valley was still and soft, still sweet with the morning dropsy. The air was cool, but there was still that hint that a warmer day was to hcome. I was not bothered to be a lilly. Nor was I surprised. I simply turned toward the morning sun and stretched out my leaves and I waited — waited for the warmth and the light and the nutrients that were to come.
And I knew I was beautiful. There was no question, no other thought, other than a knowing of my own beauty. It was not cognitive, it was not anything other than that — a knowing.
Descartes implied this. He implied that one could not separate thought from being, knowing self from existing.
But I — I could not separate the knowing of my own beauty from the world around me. As a result, I shown to the world whether I could be seen or not. The question of being seen was not one that I could even know. There was only the beauty.
Only the beauty which needed to be. One day I would wilt. One day my petals would fall one by one, drift from my face and decay into the peat and the dark-moss soil. One day that would happen. but that was not today.
And even then, there would be no fear in my heart. Only regret that my beauty was no more. But for now,I did not shine for anyone — I did not shine for the possum that sniffed at my stalks when the moon had reached its heights; I did not shine for the heron that stood, head cocked, one one leg, searching for fish. I did not shine for the couple that passed by on the woodchip path that commented on my color and figure.
I was beautiful because I was beautiful — because beauty needed to be expressed. Not even that: because beauty. The cause and the explanation followed the action. the initial impulse was thoughtless.
And what could one expect of me? I was a lilly. I could think of nothing else.
But now that I am a man, I wonder — I wonder whether that beauty was something I can know possess. Whether there is that thing that can be expressed without thought without mind without other, the thing that is done for its own sake.
As I place my legs into those grey pants and I tighten the suit-noose around my neck and I look down the road at the cars that follow me and the cars that precede me, now I wonder whether this is something that I can have.
When I was a lilly I knew all that I was.
Now that I am a man, I know nothing, for I need others to tell me who I am. And without them telling, I do not know. I do not know much of anything. I was a lilly, once, and true. And now I am a man and I am less than a lilly — and more.