Without a net,
I catch a falcon and release it to the sky,
This wine I drink today
was never held in a clay jar.
I love this world,
even as I hear the great wind
of leaving it rising,
for there is a grainy taste I prefer
to every idea of heaven: human friendship.
We watch Damiel and Cassiel, two of the hundreds of angels populating the sky over Berlin but invisible to the human eye. They glide through the streets, observe the bustling population, listen to the thoughts of the human inhabitants of the city, and send invisible rays of hope to those in anguish. We see the city from their perspective—black and white, as colors don’t exist in the experience of the angels.
Then the unexpected happens: Damiel falls in love with a mortal human—Marion, a lonely trapeze artist. He wishes to experience life in the physical world and all of the human sensory pleasures. He wants to touch Marion and be touched by her. Soon, he finds out it might be possible for him to take human form and makes the irreversible decision to leave the angelic realm in spite of the price he’ll have to pay.
He falls out of grace and hits the face of the Earth. Now, he’s subject to the elements. He experiences thirst and hunger. He needs clothing and shelter. To his surprise, the black and white world he had observed for centuries has suddenly turned to Kodachrome. But it’s not only the colors that are included in his human experience now. He also has fully functioning five senses as well as a wide spectrum of emotions he’ll live with as a mortal during his limited span of life on Earth.
This is the story told in the film Wings of Desire (aka “The Heavens Over Berlin”) by Wim Wenders. The first time I traveled to Berlin, I couldn’t help but see the city as depicted in the movie, wondering whether there were really invisible angels sitting on rooftops and roaming in libraries, train stations, and fairgrounds. I wondered what living without desire and seeing the entire world in black and white would be like.
It didn’t appeal to me. And still doesn’t. I’d rather be human. Not an angel, not a goddess. Just human. Messily and gloriously human to experience and express the grainy beauty of living an ordinary, full-color, full-contact life.
Your Writing Prompt:
Today, write us about being messily and gloriously human. What do you cherish about being and breathing on Earth? What do you love about being a mere mortal and not an emotion-free angel in spite of all the suffering the human experience comes with?
Fill yourself a cup of your favorite drink, make yourself comfortable in your favorite writing space, set your timer for ten minutes, and go!