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the way we miss our lives are life*

March 16, 2009

Have returned from Florida feeling a sea change of sorts although away from what and toward what else is not apparent. There’s nothing like 10 days in the South to remind you to keep calm and carry on. The trip was exactly as I’d hoped it would be, which was a chance to see my aunt, read, relax and try to ready myself for something. There’s nothing like long hours spent staring up at a cloudless sky to make you wonder about all of it, and then to make you seriously consider becoming a deck hand in the Bahamas.

During one of these very stare sessions a few days ago I suddenly contemplated calling my parents, but then wondered if in answer to the requisite question about my current activities, if I were to respond yet again with the words, “Sitting outside,” that they might start to think I was wasting my life away. Although, if they do think that it’s only in a vague way, as people’s views of the lives of others, even those of their own children, are mainly based on heuristics established the first time they ever had an opinion about you so that my parents will forever be convinced that I am unable to bring a jacket anywhere or be trusted with even the most basic instruction unless it is repeated at least 3 times at varying intervals, which is of course true at least half the time, but that doesn’t mean much in a coin toss.

In other words, I didn’t call them, but instead picked up my book again, which I was looking to finally finish, since I felt that at the end I would suddenly understand some small but crucial thing about life and what it means to be all mixed up in it. Today, having put the last chapter to rest on the flight home I can say that I now understand vaguely some concepts about some things that are crucial and familiar although I don’t really know what they mean and when I try to think about them I start thinking about thinking and then all is lost again. But if you or someone you know wants to read a book that I will whole-heartedly and without reservations recommend (I know I know that means so much to everyone) then please, Independence Day by Richard Ford.

But my parents are good parents and I am convinced of this because when I told my mom that I felt at loose ends at having ceded my job and flung myself on poverty’s doorstep she responded by saying, “Well you are at loose ends.” Which was in most ways the only thing I needed to hear, and one of those times when someone says the utterly right thing when they were only trying to help.

*Richard Ford, “Independence Day”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kent McMIllan permalink
    March 16, 2009 5:29 am

    But my parents are good parents and I am convinced of this because when I told my mom that I felt at loose ends at having ceded my job and flung myself on poverty’s doorstep she responded by saying, “Well you are at loose ends.”

    Well, this may not quite be a good enough observation to follow that, but it seems to me that there are people I know well for whom the possibilities are more real and interesting than what actually is at hand. I make a living as a surveyor by chasing the possibilities that hide, waiting to be discovered, beneath the surface of many obscure and arcane matters, so, I would never discount the importance of possibilities.

    However, the thing about the endless permutations upon the imaginable is that unless one has some sort of a means of winnowing them to make the first cut between the promising, or at least plausible, grains of prospects and the insubstantial chaff, it’s tough to decide between what will be productive and what will never be more than the shadow of a ghost.

    If there is ever any doubt, I highly recommend paying attention to what the dreams that surface to consciousness have to say on the subject. One of the activities of the Unconscious is to show glimpses of the map of one’s life at moments when the direction is needed.

    That’s only an unsolicited dos centavos.

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