Saturday, September 01, 2007

One thought per post?

I thought once that if I put one thought per post, I'd get a lot more posts out here. But I don't know if I can adjust to that lifestyle. One of my friends once said I had long thoughts, like paragraphs.

I noticed today that my family is on Facebook even if I am not (or only nominally). Maybe I'm too old to see the point, your powers grow weak old man. One of the strange connections was seeing people I thought of as kids at Southminster all grown up and doing their thing. Other than Steven Martel, I really hadn't noticed.

I was going through my papers again (for more information, see With the benefit of hindsight). One that really stuck out to me was dated September 16-17, 1995. It is just a slice of life, where lots of little things happened all at once. That weekend, I went to see "Oklahoma!" a couple of times at the Highline Performing Arts Center. A lot of my friends were in it, or around it. Ian and Paul went with me to see them. I really wanted to remember, I was seized to write, thank goodness. When I annotated it last night, I said, "Some days are perfect, that's all."

That date is significant because it means I wrote this thing basically the day or two before the 19th, when Chris Tyni killed himself. You couldn't draw it up better in a Stephen King book: all is calm, all is bright, and then all is dark. It is like a time capsule, not only for the twelve years intervening, but also for my innocent childhood. It wasn't the beginning of my adulthood by any stretch, but the end of my childhood... yes. When I tell myself the stories of my life, that day sticks out in many of them.

The other interesting thing I found was a record of a dream I've never forgotten. It actually makes a lot of sense, for a dream:

I go into a large elevator and ride it to the top floor of a building, where there's a museum. After the doors open and lights come on, I must be distracted because the lights go out and I have a feeling of being too late, or waiting too long as the doors close and the elevator continues up. I'm crushed and I can't see anything, but I feel things breaking until finally my head goes too. Everything is silent. I hear a sigh, and I don't know if it's mine. Then I wait for the next thing. Then I wake up.

The most likely date on the dream is 1997. I was not a Christian then. It brings together two great fears: my ongoing fear of being killed by the automatic operations of senseless, ignorant machines (along with fear of my teeth falling out, it is the only thing I have remotely resembling a phobia), and my fear that somehow life has already passed me by, that the great decisions and moments occurred when I was too young to understand what to do with them, and that the life I have lived must be resigned to, must be borne and not enjoyed, that the story of my life is a story of failure.

I was paging through the moments of my life, which, thank God, I have saved in boxes because my head is too small for them, and thinking about my past a little bit. I saw names who should still be friends, words that should have been held and remembered for all this time. Instead, the story chops off insensibly, out of apathy, or a falling-out, or my ignorance or my ill behavior, or just the vagaries of chance. I thought about these things and I felt like a discontinuous person, a person lacking structural, spiritual integrity. It's not that I've forgotten, it's that little parts of my life that should be there are blacked out: I remember nothing of the life I should be having with these people down to today.

I don't just think about forgiveness, however relevant it is in several of my discontinuities. I do want to be forgiven for what I did, or failed to do, with these people. But even more, I want not the closure of forgiveness, but the aperture of connection, of renewed friendship. That other universe, that life where we are whole people, together again, we should be living there today.

[You can read some great stories about this, like The Girl I Left Behind and Deep River by Shusaku Endo.]

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