Wednesday, August 01, 2007

All the new thinking is about loss.

In this it resembles all the old thinking.

What is it precisely that signals us that we are in a moment that is winding to a close? Something about the light, and the way it quietly fades in the afternoon, signalling you that finally, if you are going to keep reading, you should turn on a lamp? Or that slightly elevated spinning sound that happens before you eject a CD or a DVD? The soundtrack and credits rolling? People starting to pack up their things? Hurry up please, it's time?

And whatever that thing is, is it the thing that makes us want to hold on to some possession, forgetting that, as Crazy Aunt Purl so eloquently said today, "it's just a blanket, it's not a soul"? Do we grasp, then, at a familiar idea? Or spin a new world view to accommodate a change of heart? Or do we instead hammer away as if nothing has changed, as if this present state of things will endure always?

Even as we are aware that we are in this moment, we are already imagining its passing, desiring it, fearing it. Do we panic then because we see ourselves out there, in some unimaginable later moment, doing something we think we might do but that we cannot yet envision? Or is it because we know what we did last time, and please God let us not do that again?

What is it we want when we imagine this future us? What should we hope for? (Wait without hope, Eliot says, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.)

In these present moments, then, too often we scurry around, collecting, preserving, filing, trying to remember--staving off loss, because we imagine that this future us--wherever we are--will appreciate that, will remember us kindly, will forgive us. Or we decide that this is time we have been waiting for, to clean things out, chuck out the old xeroxes, cull our bookshelves, take a box to the used CD store, defragment all our drives (hard or otherwise). In this way, we tell ourselves, we will be unencumbered--our past will be more visible without these encrustations, and our future freer. We will have room to spread out, we say, with a slight laugh and a glance over our shoulder.

All this prevention, all this remorse--it is all a denial of desire. Or, "Longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances."

What if instead I lay down the anxiety, and instead surrender? Put away the calendar, let a few things slip, cease taking pleasure at being called a model--instead just think about what each armstroke feels like, whether each hand is taking a handfull of water, whether there is rotation in the hips?

Stop planning: this is a time for relishing the feeling of today.

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