Once a sunflower lost its bearings during a total eclipse. Or to be more precise, it lost the guiding reassurance of time. Nothing remotely like this had happened to the sunflower before. Not only was it subtly attuned to every tick of the clock but it also had complete recall of the exact moment when any given experience in its life had taken place, as well as those moments just before and after. The sunflower had anticipated the same would be true of every moment to come through the rest of the summer and well into autumn. All was predictable, hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month. And then the sun went out. Not all at once, but gradually, which made its disappearance even more alarming. Sudden darkness would have been easier to deal with. If the sunflower’s ordered world came to an end in an abrupt cataclysm, well, what could you do? Things just hadn’t work out. But this extended fading of the light, this deepening uncertainty, was an agonizing affair. One had time to lament the slow disappearance of one’s entire world into shadow. And with it the extinguishing of each memory or expectation that world had produced. Past, present, future—all vanishing together. With the sun gone, the flower began to sense the eerie contours of a realm it had never dreamed of in the light of day. It found the change thoroughly disorienting and suffered, amid the shifting and vague shapes, a rush of vertigo. There was no rhyme or reason to count on, no reassuring lines running straight to the horizon and joining there. The sunflower couldn’t even be certain of its companions in the field around it, only that they, too, likely turned and turned about unsteadily in the dark. Soon, however, an unexpected calm began to settle out of the unforeseen night. No, calmness wasn’t the word for it, the sunflower thought. More like hushed fascination. In the depths of the eclipse, when nothing anymore was as it always had been, the possibility that the flower’s world might stay like this left it wavering between a wish for the sun’s return and a strange reluctance to have it reappear. The flower tried to imagine what life might be like in perpetual darkness. Without the accustomed bearings, it could be anything. As if the flower were the first flower on earth, forced to set its face towards the unknown with all the hazard of a life gamble. Nothing taken for certain nor rejected yet. Free as no sunflower had ever been free, bearing the seeds of a present without past or future. Choosing to live in this moment always. And then, from behind the great dark promise of the moon, the sun began to reclaim the sky.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans