Sunday, September 21, 2008

your reflection approaches and then recedes again

What I had stated was that I was forever hurtling myself blindly into brick walls. It’s the convenient advantage of hyperanalysis. When called upon, almost anything sounds sincere and meaningful.

I had, after all. I did, and my father likes to tell the story of when I first learned to walk. So excited at my sudden ability, I would speed off without looking, slam right into walls, which, in retrospect, really should have been caught on film, as it must have been an endless source of comedy.

He doesn’t tell it so much anymore, but I do. It makes for a cleaner narrative- absolves me of all responsibility. It’s so much easier to state that I’m making a mistake, than to prove that I am not. So much easier to say I’m tripping and stumbling over one obstacle after another, than to say I encountered and cleared obstacles but that they changed me, changed where I was heading, changed what I wanted, each time.

See. It’s easier to write that I am once again just barreling towards the latest beat of my heart. It’s easy because some part of it is true. A full-on lie is much harder to pull off than just choosing to show a facet instead of the entire stone. I am going towards what moves me. It could very well be a brick wall.

But it’s probably not. My father doesn’t tell the story much anymore, because he was proved wrong one too many times. Once I told my father I wanted to go to Mexico for a class vacation “just because.” He went super-Huxtable on me and told me that was the stupidest reason he had ever been given in his life. I had countered that he didn’t know how to have a good time, didn’t know how to follow a whim. My father hates the word whim.

I’ve come to dislike it, too, I guess, because of its dishonesty. I didn’t want to go to Mexico “just because.” I wanted to go because I was 16, it was a week away from my parents, and some doofus I had a big crush on was planning to go. Stupid reasons, and probably, on some level, I knew how stupid they were, even at 16.

So then ‘whim’ became a substitute for ‘flimsy logic’ or, on the other extreme, ‘too complicated to explain.’ When I told my parents I was leaving the east coast, my father also assumed it was on a ‘whim.’ I didn’t have the energy to empty the contents of my brain onto their laps, to explain all the reasons I had to get away, why I needed to move to California.

But he’s quieted down because most of my ‘whims,’ later on, ended without any major catastrophes. Some of them have even gone better than could have been expected. And also, they were maybe not at all whims. I think my father might have caught on: once, when I told him about a decision I had very nearly reached, he muttered, "why bother asking our opinion? You’ve already worked it all out in your head."

Which is true. I say I don’t like plans, and that I don’t know what the future holds, but yet, I orchestrate. I put down foundations. I think about chess moves. They’re not fully thought through, not precisely mapped out, because that is what I find worthless. Life is too unpredictable, too dynamic to be too careful. It’s better to be smudgy and hazy- to have a shadow of an idea, a foggy vision. Then let it come into focus as you get closer to it, as it becomes more real, and the unending variables have played out, so that you might be in range of the concrete.

I’d stated that I am forever hurtling myself blindly into brick walls. And to him, my oldest friend, it was a sort of air-tight statement. And from whom else had I learned so well how to pick my words? That’s a story for another day. But I realize now that it must have driven him mad. In the past, for one thing, I had at least thought I was heading in the right direction. And for another, I had been eager, overly eager to explain it the way I saw it in my head, to try to pull him into the fog and the blur. He probably knew I was lying. He probably knew what I know- that I know exactly where I’m headed and why, but I'd wimped out by dismissing it all as a flight of whimsy.

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