Once a navel started gazing back. Some might even argue it began to stare back. Whether gazing or staring, the navel adopted its new demeanor out of self-defense. Being gazed at or stared at by the multitudes had grown tiresome long ago, but more recently, the attention it attracted had grown so intense that navel-stalking might have been a better term for it. The navel didn’t have much complaint about those who couldn’t really control themselves and so were guilty at most of bad manners. One look at their gormless expressions made it clear a traffic accident would probably claim more of their interest than a navel if they found themselves presented with the choice. But the same allowance wasn’t due the prying eyes of the many more who were out to see whatever they wanted to see in a navel, be it their own or anybody else’s. By far the greatest number of these fell into one of two groups, characterized by the navel as “the long hairs” and, for lack of a better contrast, “the short hairs.” As best the navel could determine, the long hairs, who considered themselves very perceptive and sensitive observers, regarded it pretty much as a channel to their inner selves, contemplating it for hours on end as though expecting it to reveal something they weren’t already convinced they knew: if nothing else, then the larger implications of their even being there to gaze at it in the first place. Under this persistent study nothing about the navel went unremarked, unrecorded, unanalyzed, and undebated. If anything, with so much brainpower focused on it, data overload was a constant risk, threatening to bring remarking, recording, analyzing, and debating to a near standstill on occasion or else to a state resembling cryogenic suspension of all thought whatsoever. The short hairs, who weren’t given to these endless intellectual debates and regarded them as pretty much a waste of time, suffered from fixations of their own. They were equally focused upon the navel but with a marked difference. Contemplation alone was of little interest to them. How could you understand the essence of anything by merely thinking about it, they scoffed? Far better was to touch the thing itself. Only then might you sense powers within it that could not be reduced to explanation, that would actually be reduced by explanation, powers that thought would most likely block from flowing through your fingertips and filling every part of you with tingling ecstacy. Despite their differences, these two groups shared an utter disinterest then in the navel as navel, it had become convinced, and refused to see in it anything more than their own certainties. How would they feel if the situation were reversed and the navel was the one stalking them, as it were? Would they be prepared for that? Not likely. The truth about the navel wasn’t for the faint of heart. Nor for any who simply wanted validation of what they wished to be true. In the navel’s inward twists lay a deeper reality of muck and miracles few wished to face, one that didn’t need defining or embracing. The spirit of the navel led its own dance, now with generation, now with decay, now with both together, celebrating birth and death and rebirth in every turn. The three of them audience enough for their eternal round without a throng of mental or sensual voyeurs. So the best would be for all to back off and recognize the presumptuous nerve of their ways with the navel. Neither gazing nor staring would bring them closer to its secrets and was more likely to blind them with conceits of their own making. They’d all benefit from taking a good long look in the mirror instead.
Copyright © 2007, revised 2008, by Geoffrey Grosshans