Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What we tell each other in moments of crisis, our heads huddled together under sheets with pictures of wild animals on them, comes flooding back two and three years later when the crisis has dried up, when the concept of time itself has abandoned us to our own devices. It shrinks to about half its size and so if you go looking for it, you must adjust your expectations accordingly. When I try to accomplish the same thing by looking cross-eyed through a magnifying glass, the pain is so severe, it reminds me of the time I fell down a flight of stairs and there was no one there to minister to my wounds. I was as alone as if I had been born at the south pole. Or close enough to it to make my way there without too much difficulty (aside from the fact that it would have been much too early for me to have mastered locomotion of any kind, and I would therefore have been reliant on those in my party – relatives certainly, and perhaps some friends of theirs – to transport me in the darkness and the cold; all of which, of course, suggests I would not have been alone after all and that the original image, as is often the case, is not apt). We like to think our trajectory is something that can be mapped. To prove the point we frequently pull out oversized pieces of paper from our briefcases, or in some instances, from our back pockets, and point to certain parts of them as if to signify that is where we are located at any given moment and that we will be located somewhere else shortly. But don’t bother to get out the instruments that link these places together. The rulers and the felt-tip pens. There is no time for that. And even if there were, you’d just come up with some random design that we wouldn’t recognize. A parabola, say, with its center of gravity disturbed by the fact that there is no gravity in that place where parabolas exist. That theoretical place full of dots and lines to connect them and a whole lot of nothing in between. But perhaps I am being too technical. I have this bad habit of explaining things I do not understand and ignoring those I do. I probably picked this up from my brother who was older than I, and so prone to ridiculing my every decision even when that decision was sound. When it might have resulted in my getting the girl, for instance, or at least impressing her with my ability to make a decision and stick to it, impressing sufficiently enough, I suppose, for her to hang around a while just to see what might happen. Of course, my brother was flesh and blood and held that against me as well, accusing me of adopting an outer oval covering of calcium – a shell, in other words -- just to try to embarrass him, to “one up him”, as it were, just when he was starting to come into his own. When he was starting to understand the difference between the carburetor and whatever other parts and structures you are liable to run across in an internal combustion engine as you are trying to take it apart or put it back together again. When he was just starting to think his life might not wind up being a nearly endless series of events after all, with no means of determining how they are related, how they are connected one to the other, outside of the perhaps entirely coincidental fact that he is present bodily whenever such events occur.     

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