You can taste it in the shock and roar of a first, unexpected kiss, or in the blood in your mouth that instant after an accident when you realize you’re still alive. It blows in the wind you feel on the rooftops of a really reckless night of adventure. You hear it in the magic of your favorite songs, how they lift and transport you in ways that no science or psychology could ever account for. It might be you’ve seen evidence of it scratched into bathroom walls in a code without a key, or you’ve been able to make out a pale reflection of it in the movies they make to keep us entertained. It’s in between the words when we speak of our desires and aspirations, still lurking somewhere beneath the limitations of being “practical” and “realistic.”
When poets and radicals stay up until sunrise, wracking their brains for the perfect sequence of words or deeds to fill hearts (or cities) with fire, they’re trying to find a hidden entrance to it. When children escape out the window to go wandering late at night, or freedom fighters search for a weakness in government fortifications, they’re trying to sneak into it—for they know better than us where the doors are hidden. When teenagers vandalize a billboard to provoke all-night chases with the police, or anarchists interrupt an orderly demonstration to smash the windows of a corporate chain store, they’re trying to storm its gates.
When you’re making love and you discover a new sensation or region of your lover’s body, and the two of you feel like explorers discovering a new part of the world on a par with a desert oasis or the coast of an unknown continent, as if you are the first ones to reach the north pole or the moon, you are charting its frontiers.