Monday, August 12, 2013

Rambling About Things I Don't Really Understand

And now, let's talk about things I don't very well understand.

I was just reading a book. Transatlantic. Colum McCann. It's about Ireland and the peace process there. A topic about which I know all too little. I can't remember the principals involved when McCann mentions their names. Senator George Mitchell is just a name to me, a vague impression. Still, I read on.

Throughout the reading, my feet curled up under me on the couch, I feel my stomach hanging, too large. Over the past week I have often looked into the mirror. The body looking back is and isn't my own. It is in that the mirror doesn't lie, but it isn't in that I have, over time, lost track of myself and become this other person. He is a bit of a stranger. Like George Mitchell. The name is familiar and I think I recall the photos, but I can't quite make the connection.

I can go to Wikipedia to put together faces and names. Some will stick. Most will not. But that would interrupt the reading. I remember reading Faulkner and Shakespeare in college. I thought that I had to keep every character in mind from the get-go. I made lists with descriptions. Took notes. Tried to draw faces. It didn't help. I found myself reading notes more than story. I only moved forward after I lost the lists and notes.

Could it be the same for finding connection to that lost image of myself and the vague dreams I have for my future?

For years I have dreamed of a new job. I've been a public school teacher for eighteen years. The love I had for it has not remained steady. Some of my interest has waned. I feel boxed in. And the profession is going down the toilet.

I try to imagine who I want to be and what I want to do. Like looking in the mirror, trying to draw the body and face I wish for. The picture doesn't coalesce. It's a dream almost remembered in the seconds after I awaken. A sweet kind of torture.

George Mitchell negotiating for peace is patient but yearning to be back home. I am the opposite: Impatient and longing to be gone from huge portions of myself.

Maybe it's a passing mood. Maybe it has been this way for years. It is difficult to tell.

I end each of these essays with: write on. That's about all I know on this, whatever this is. I keep writing. When I write, things are better and clearer even as the writing muddles them. I don't know things so much as I feel them.

Perhaps that's my discomfort. I have trained myself to know, to rely on words to figure life out. Meanwhile, most of the interesting stuff must be felt more than thought. Or so it seems to me. I can't think my way forward. Out of my job. Into a new body. Toward understanding. But I think I can feel my way there.

My father, when I was a boy, had a ridiculous t-shirt that said, "love is blind, that's why men are always feeling around." It has stuck with me. Maybe I'm figuring out the connections between knowing, loving by feeling around in darkness.

Whatever the case, I'll write on.