"THE GREAT GOD PAN IS—"
Once the great god Pan rolled over and declared, “I ain’t dead yet, folks.” All those who’d trumpeted his demise might do well to check their own pulse and find a nearer reason for concern because he could assure them he wasn’t about to give up the ghost. Though in appearance he might look close enough to it to explain people’s confusion. Sprawled amongst the few followers who remained faithful to the memory of ecstatic pleasures, Pan had to admit he’d grown paunchy and gray of late, his hair thinning out like dry weeds, his teeth grown brittle (those he still had), and his wan, wrinkled face drained of the joie de vivre that kept it ruddy and full in the past. The old ticker just wasn’t what it once had been, and he found it hard to catch his breath now after even a short prance, let alone blow his famous pipes in full bacchanalian relish. Too often a wheezy tootle was the best he could manage now. And when was the last time he’d succeeded in leaping high enough in the air to click cloven hooves together more than once? Oh, this cumbrous belly! How often had he marveled at the way it used to mold itself to another’s flesh, as though that had been the whole intent of life from the start! Now he merely sagged upon himself in such heavy rolls that all else disappeared beneath them. And yet, and yet, those years when delight ran sure-footed through scented groves and leapt brook after brook, when revel alone fed a soul that never tired—such inspired abandon still remained beneath time’s creaks and groans. Age might wither limbs but not desire. Pan held to that assurance as firmly as he ever had. Places, names, faces, even memory and speech might fade, yet the call of the senses must always return. And when it did, when the winded heart swelled with life again, these irksome pounds would dissolve, this gray vanish from his beard and hair, bold longings rise again from slumber, and every sinew and joint bend once more to the senses’ fierce demands. Revel would return to the world before he’d leave it, Pan was certain. Not the tedious choreography that passed for a celebration of life these days, where too many seemed to stumble through the motions as if trying to match footprints painted on the dance floor—no, not these stale rituals that trammel the will but instead a wild-eyed rite that sets the will free in transports of intoxicated joy. He just needed to hold on until then. Who else was left to champion getting drunk on life itself, Pan wanted to know: the passion to drink it all in, the mad with the sane, the scream and the tender silence, the orgiastic heights and then the slow falling back into oneself and the rebirth of every urge yet again, over and over, all of it, all that simply being alive demanded unconditionally? Certainly not those counting themselves wise who daily announced his end with such confidence, such blind presumption they now controlled forces far beyond their powers to understand, forces nothing could shield them from when the life-lust stretched every chamber of their hearts anew. To have convinced themselves that they needn’t worship at all the wild altars of life, like prim little godlets and godlettes whose hubris took itself for wisdom—now there was intoxication without hope. And no promise of spring frolics yet to come. Only a frigid wasteland in store, barren of every sign of life save self-distrust. Sooner or later, though, these poor lost ones must find their way again to him—the one god ever-willing to hail their return with a cup raised high! They would come back! Wouldn’t they?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans