I’ve written so much about focus – how I lack it, how much of it others have… it’s not necessarily interchangeable with discipline (which I also lack), but recently I’ve been feeling that odd, old unwinding of the middle, where I feel something essential unraveling though which thankfully will never be untied. That is I think what saves me, a hardy knot in my middle, the result of what, I’m not sure – perhaps a childhood that was infinitely more focused (though my parents would argue otherwise) and more simple or the concentrated reading I try to do for at least ten minutes a day.
So the ropes. The elements, the innards, limbs, yarns, leather belt straps, intellectual spaghetti noodles – they unwind all the time, especially at this time of year when family, friends, engagements, christmas decorations and more baked goods than I can eat start closing in, crowding my physical space (not to mention physical pounds – pants = tight). And that’s to say nothing of the mental space, some of which goes frankly dead (hence the spare ten minutes devoted to reading and the zero minutes devoted to writing) and some of which kind of becomes compressed and anxious, brimming with paradoxically convoluted but simple thoughts such as: “Good God, 2013, what future. Am I prepared?”
|George Tooker The Subway, 1950|
Basically I’m not ready to address that question, because I’m writing this with whatever little brainpower I have left after a full day’s shopping with my mom and grandma. Which is not a complaint – not at all. Unarguably, life is good: I am unemployed but busy enough not to feel badly about it, and just as the year is winding down my old peripatetic ways are revving up. Perhaps I don’t deserve any of it, the upcoming trips or the long but comfortably funded unemployment or even the opportunity to apply to grad school, but then again, it’s a trade off.
When I feel loopy because whatever is inside that can unravel is doing so, I blame the exterior. Not my body, per se, but my surroundings. The house that is mine but not mine. The city that I grew up in but is slowly, not becoming strange (it can only be strange in how undyingly familiar it is), but features as a strange character in my daydreams, in which I come back to stay for just a few future holidays as a guest in my own old house. That bank? That grocery store? That high school? We go way back, as the sayings goes. It is unsettling at times to be driving past that lackluster beige and grey building with blue doors day after day when eight years ago I sat within its walls and dreamed about being very far away.
That is life, isn’t it? The eerie dance no one teaches you but when you get to my age (har har, a careworn twenty-six!) you know the steps by heart: Walk two steps, now stand still, now walk. Now stand still again, now run. Now stop. Now fly. Now come back! Come back I say, and start all over again.
End of blather.
I have never been one to write about current or cultural events, (being the type to get really into the “X-Files” ten years after the series ends), but the recent massacre of children in Connecticut makes me sad and – never mind. I am still not that kind of person.