Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: Cassiel, Damiel, mid life, Wim Wenders, wings of desire
A midlife crisis is when all the structures you have carefully worked to establish for your life have run their course and now sputter and stall and collapse in a pile underneath you. And you go out and buy a new sports car or, if you’re the type, begin the novel that’s nagged at you all these years. It’s busting from one zone that has a growing number of inadequacies and into a new one that should keep you sane and secure for the next phase of life.
Damiel, Berlin’s angel, is fed up. His main gig – caring for the city’s troubled – isn’t working for him anymore and he wants out. For Damiel, angeling is too much about the eternal: he testifies, hovers weightless, waits, is all knowing, blesses. He craves an earthly live: to be bound, weighted, where experience is immediate, the acknowledgement of people is acute, the days events are participatory, to be susceptible to sickness and suspicion and epiphany.
Angels are like codependents and social workers; their task is alway to give, to people who quite literally will never stop craving more, of the junk, the balm. It’s the burden of angels, always to take care of others, never themselves.
How did Damiel get his job? Did he rise out from the ranks of junior angels by his acumen and hard work? Was he pegged for it from the beginning of time? Perhaps it was more a calling than a career choice. Regardless, it seems unfair, to be the receiver of all that anguish, if he didn’t ask to be put in the position. Or to hold him there if he decides he doesn’t want it anymore. Anyway, not to worry, he gets himself out.
Imagine if they all left, the chosen, whom we lean on so heavily with our sick hearts.
From Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire:
CASSIEL: Sunrise and 7:22 a.m. Sunset at 4:28 p.m. Moonrise at [….] Twenty years ago today a Soviet jet fighter crashed into the lake at Spandau. Fifty years ago there were the Olympic Games. Two-hundred years ago Blanchard flew over the city in a balloon.
DAMIEL: Like the fugitives the other day.
CASSIEL: And today, on the Lilienthaler Chaussee, a man, walking, slowed down, and looked over his shoulder into space. At post office 44, a man who wants to end it all today pasted rare stamps on his farewell letters, a different one on each. He spoke English with an American soldier–the first time since his schooldays–and fluently. A prisoner at Plotzenzee, just before ramming his head against the wall, said: ‘Now!’ At the Zoo U-Bahn station, instead of the station’s name, the conductor suddenly shouted: ‘Tierra del Fuego!’
CASSIEL: In the hills, an old man read the Odyssey to a child. And the young listener stopped blinking his eyes…. And what do you have to tell?
DAMIEL: A woman on the street folded her umbrella while it rained and let herself get drenched. A schoolboy who described to his teacher how a fern grows out of the earth, and the astonished teacher. A blind woman who groped for her watch, feeling my presence…. It’s great to live only by the spirit, to testify day by day, for eternity, to the spiritual side of people. But sometimes I get fed up with my spiritual existence. Instead of forever hovering above I’d like to feel there’s some weight to me. To end my eternity, and bind me to earth. At each step, at each gust of wind, I’d like to be able to say: ‘Now! Now! and Now!’ And no longer say: ‘Since always’ and ‘Forever.’ To sit in the empty seat at a card table, and be greeted, if only by a nod…. Whenever we did participate, it was only a pretence. Wrestling with one of them, we allowed a hip to be dislocated, in pretence only. We pretended to catch a fish. We pretended to be seated at the tables. And to drink and eat…. Not that I want to plant a tree or give birth to a child right away. But it would be quite something to come home after a long day, like Philip Marlowe, and feed the cat. To have a fever. To have blackened fingers from the newspaper…. To feel your skeleton moving along as you walk. Finally to “suspect”, instead of forever knowing all. To be able to say ‘Ah!’ and ‘Oh!’ and ‘Hey!’ instead of ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’.
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