Saturday, July 05, 2008

not a word about inflatibles

It seems to me now that many stories in my own experience have been reduced to a very strange sort of alphabet.

There are perfect moments.

Some people don't believe these sorts of moments exist. Others do believe, and spend their time and energies and money trying to find or create them. A few have experienced these moments and seek to understand them. And a very small few have learned to create them at will.

You may have met one of those individuals. Think back. Did you? Did you feel some sort of twinge when you passed them on the bus, or in line? Make eye contact? Feel like crying for no reason?

nah. Neither have I. And I've not a shred of evidence for any of it. But I'll have to say I belong to the third group.

Possibly it's the heat. I really don't know how human beings stay sane in this place. I'm not exactly sure why I'm still here.

And then there was the 4th. Another 4th. Did I think about America? Yeah, briefly. They weren't great thoughts, but very nearly hopeful. It was a good day for me, though still, as holidays are, it was another. Did you have a good 4th? Did you think about America? Did you wonder what took you from the last 4th to this one?

Where was I last year? I wonder. And now, what is?

Mostly, it's going to be about working these things out, somehow, in the language these experiences have become.

I'll show you. Sometime.


Drinne said...

I had a perfect cup of coffee once, truly perfect. It was in my house with a sample of a particular roast and the perfect balance of 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar. It was in August in 1999 when I would have told you nothing was perfect. But I would have been lying then. I still remember the color and the weight of the coffee as it slid over my tongue.

I have had three of moments of "perfection" the coffe was a more accessible shadow of those moments. They always seemed more like "everything is exactly where it is supposed to be in that moment ." including the evil and the suffering as well as the good and the beautiful. If the evil and suffering weren't a part of that awareness it would be less than perfect.

It's important that it wasn't what I was taught that perfect meant but it was perfect anyway. I think about those moments when Karen Armstrong talks about the western struggle with transcendence. When those moments passed they changed me, but they are only moments and sometimes the change was not for the better.

I met a woman who made me click into place like a 3-d puzzle on a center core. She created that moment. I avoided her for two years before that moment. She was the fourth type and she scared the hell out of me. When I tell that story, I'll pretend it isn't true.

I spent this 4th trying to figure out why I'm surrounded by Neil Gaiman and reading his stories,(most of which I must admit are new to me) channeling anger at the FISA bill, grilling steaks and corn and celebrating the separation of church and state by planning a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I took pictures of Poppets with the Declaration of Independence to send to my son.

None of those disturbing perfect moments to report but there were extended discussions of Skippy's list and inflatable sheep.

lisa said...

drinne: beautifully stated. Thank you for that. I think these moments, the ones we can recall, are the ones we recognized as 'perfect' when we were in them.
I sort of think they can be like the oboe in orchestra, so subtle, but once apparent, unmistakable.

In my adult life I've eschewed ideas of fate, believing faith the absolute antithesis of reason, a crutch for avoiding responsibility for one's own actions.

But sometimes, in very, very rare moments, I stand quietly in this harsh, hateful place and know I'm exactly where I should be.

Those moments are easier digested as fiction.

Because they scare the hell out of me.

Drinne said...

Lisa: It's funny that you eshew fate as part of faith, because interestingly enough I always saw fate as what happened to you when you tried to avoid responsibility for your actions. Like the Oedipus story happened because his father was trying to avoid the prediction, and if he had just let things run their natural course then he would have been sitting around with his wife in their old age going "Oracles feh, what a bunch of baloney, let's go visit Oedipus and the grandkids." The moral of the story should be - don't go around talking to oracles if you're a bloodthirsty bastard. They're waiting for you and you're predictable.

Since that was my first exposure to the concept of Fate I guess I never associated with the concept of faith.

I grew up with a religion that doesn't really have faith as part of it's underlying concept so I was always jealous of people who had it. It seemed like a warm blanket and a god creature who always loved you. But mine kind of never let you off the hook and couldn't even forgive you if you did something to someone else. I was also jealous of cathedrals and all the really good music that we didn't have.

Now I think that faith is something different altogether, but the marketing people damaged the word, like "liberalism" or "feminism". I don't think faith and reason were ever meant to intersect at all, and it's sad that people who are trying to sell us thoughts and things tortured those two words until they did.

I guess those are the same people trying to tell us that perfect = pretty and painless.
It doesn't really matter though. I can't squeeze in the faith even if I was capable. I suppose I have faith in Murphy. I believe Murphy is the Oracle.

Oh yeah and all my religion's modern religious art tries too hard too. Feh.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Any and every special date, be it a holiday, birthday, etc. always causes me to wonder just what in the heck happened to the last 365 days. And as the cliche indicates, this just gets worse with age. The time rushes by.

I personally don't see faith as the antithesis to reason, yet that is a pretty wide open subject because so much depends on how one is defining faith. There certainly are no shortage of people looking to absolve themselves of personal responsibility. Hey, if we are honest with ourselves I have no doubt we have all had moments where we wanted to, tried to, did pass the buck. It is a natural inclination when facing the unpleasantness of having to take responsibility when something goes wrong. Our actions have consequences, that is just the nature of life. If 'faith' is referring to those who practice religions of forgiveness, etc. I think a more thorough examination reveals that most 'normal' folks...and by 'normal' I am trying to differentiate between the stereotypical annoying religious person who is on the forefront of everyone's mind in these conversations...understand that having faith, looking for support from a higher power, and walking in the realm of forgiveness does not mean that all the consequences of our actions are washed away or that we can blame others. Faith in its purest form makes facing one's responsibilities and dealing with the ugly realities of less of an 'I'm all alone' situation.

I did think of America a bit on the 4th. But in this election year I've been thinking about America a lot. There are no shortage of things that I dislike about what is going on in our country and because of the decisions of our leaders. Yet despite this I refuse to lose faith in America. Because I am America. As are you. And I haven't lost faith in myself or those I love and care for. We may not always have the voice we wish we had nor do things always fall our way, but I still have hope in our ability to grow and change and adapt as individuals and as a nation. I do have faith...though it is sorely tested at times. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm catching up after a few days away, but felt moved to respond to this entry:
My moments of perfection are always serendipidous, and always in two situations: one, playing the flute. I slowly dropped out of it when I got to college, but at the time I would experience a lack of awareness of self yet full presentness with self and self/music that left me shaking my head, a sense that I had both created and been created through (if that makes sense) that made me feel connected and "larger than".

The other moments have all been experienced while hiking in the mountains. I think drinne summed up that feeling well. The only thing that I would add is that, for me, those moments include something similar to what I felt playing music as a teen: the sense that I am simultaneously an individual yet part of the greater whole.

I thought long and hard on the 4th, and kept coming back to the belief that at least some of the founding fathers would not be convinced that they had done the right thing, or that we had not done the right thing with what they gave us. John Adams, with his cautions against a two-party system and the tendancy of people to become devoted to the party rather than to the country, particularly comes to mind.