Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Werner Herzog reads "Curious George" and I wonder about stuff, too

At Twisted Knickers, Susan T. Landry's statement of purpose, I would call it, is, "trying to get things straight." At what point do we acknowledge this has become our life's work?

Keeping sight of the bigger picture is my great wish, my primary intention. If only there existed a monitor to alert the staff when I fell below a certain level in that aim. As it is, I have my own warning system that only kicks in once I've slipped all the way off the wagon. It, life, feels like trying to recreate the cute basket of kittens shown on the puzzle box when some of the pieces are missing. The next step is finding a way to be happy with the gaps and vacancies while not seeing yourself as a chump.

This could be easier if, say, one was a horse with the option of blinders or blinkers or winkers, take your pick, which restrict vision to the rear (don't look back) or the side (deadly comparisons) and, "...keep them from being distracted or spooked." But blinkered or winkered mean not engaged, not part of the flow, uninvolved in the exchanges that layer and texture and embellish our days. Or that mystify us and, with a rough hand, shove us forward, trying to get things straight.

Since my primary source of confusion is my relationship with self, reweaving that tattered fabric, the blinders would serve no real purpose. Somewhere along the journey, what may once have been whole became fragments. While able in brief sprints to create an illusion of completeness - or maybe the truth always leaked through - such artifice was not sustainable. Reclaiming and restoring the scattered parts became a true do-it-yourself odyssey. Nancy Drew and the Stormy Search for the Self. The job demanded new skills: scraping, resilvering, soldering, stripping away...any task that might be mentioned on This Old House or Antiques Roadshow.

If all of the above does not match your experience, I can tell you that I spend my days in activities that are not all weeping and wondering. Well, yes, there is a lot of wondering but much of it in the abstract for there are no answers, or none that can be accessed, and that leaves the hands and part of the mind free for light-hearted pursuits.

Nearly 45 years ago I had a friend who saved my life. She referred to human existence as, "this vale of tears." When she first said it, I thought veil, as in something worn for the purpose of hiding. It made sense. By either spelling or definition, it was a sentiment I shared. Perhaps I did have some of those winkers once upon a time and when I wore them, all I saw were the dents and the damage. They were all I felt.

Light, however, as wave, particle, or a measure of weight and speed, finds its way through that which seems impossibly dense. In her post of May 15, Beth Coyote, under "Squirrel Adventures," tells of such persistence. And so, despite hammered barriers and exhausting vigilance, our true natures find us. It was after I began designing rubber stamps, images referred to as whimsical, that I realized cunning optimism had built a nest in my attic.

Life, as it appears to wish to be lived through me, is a relentless stalker. It pries me out of hollows on the undersides of beach rocks. It pulls the closet light cord to reveal me crouched behind outdated computers. It wants me to play and cannot BE discouraged. How am I to make sense of that? So many years, more than half believing simply being here was a mistake, replaced by occasions of untainted happiness.

Since the third grade, my favorite reading has been mysteries. In fiction, unlike what we think of as reality, there were solutions. Seventeen years ago, one of my early stamps said, "It's all a mystery." This is one of the days when I see that as the best possible answer.


Jayne said...

Oh Marylinn, it appears that your internal monitor is well calibrated. By this thoughtful post, it appears there's little fray along the edges of your finely woven fabric. No, this is not patchwork. Rather, a gorgeous jewel-tone silk damask. Warp and weft yarns, textured, patterned and reversible. A mystery, indeed, of the best kind. ;)

Erin in Morro Bay said...

"cunning optimism had built a nest in my attic." - you have such a wonderful turn of phrase!
My wife Margot has also always loved mysteries. Being a victim of childhood abuse, she turned to books where the "bad guy" always gets caught, and justice prevails. Unlike real life, where children, have no recourse when those who should be their greatest champions are the "bad guys".
I also have always loved mysteries, but I think the appeal for me, is that no matter how messy things can be during the story, by the end everything is tidy, cleaned up and neatly packaged. That's my overly organized side I guess!

susan t. landry said...

we're on the same wave length, dearie. i saw Herzog's new film on Sunday, just posted about it.
Thank you for mentioning me.


susan t. landry said...

oh; and i am/was a mystery girl, too!
nancy drew,
hardy boys,
perry mason,
rex stout,
in my youth, then piles and piles of them in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly European....
nothing better for escapism!

Vespersparrow said...

Such a wonderfully thoughtful, serious post, Marylinn. You've described from such poise parts of the journey that you took to be yourself (I'm 'stealing' 'our true natures find us'--where were you forty years ago when I could have used someone who could tell me that?)

And you've articulated what for some of us must have been mirror experiences, and we may not have or be able to identify or acknowledge in language what it feels like to find out who we are, who we have become, to understand that to be blinkered (or in hibernation as I was) is to not be engaged in life or with love or with people, so the looking back and looking sideways must be part of it, living, and must be borne, and taken in, and made part of who we are, hard as it sometimes is.

Jayne is right. Whatever fraying there is along the edge of your self's fabric has the beautiful sheen of a well-thumbed and well-loved soul in conversation with itself, and after all the detritus has dropped away, you have made yourself whole, Jayne's 'gorgeous jewel-tone silk damask'--it couldn't be said more wonderfully than that.

So there, Nancy Drew!

Anonymous said...

first of all:

Love the gaps too. They create negative space in which to view the good bits.

Second: in the dark your light shines brightest.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Do you have a favorite mystery novel?

Penelope said...

Praise be for the stalker that life is.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jayne - I might dispute the fraying and I thank you for your comments. I cannot even imagine an existence in which all was known...so good, then, that I don't have to. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Having an organized side is a GOOD thing, so helpful. Even we less-organized find reassurance in stories that remove us from the chaos that so often hides behind a seemingly respectable facade. Mysteries, the best of all worlds. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - I am interested to know what you think of the new Herzog. And how could I resist "Curious George"? The 60s and 70s were my biggest mystery-reading decades and yes, many foreign authors. My sister and I also read the Dana Girls...were they on your list?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Oh, a fine new profile photo. Thank you...and forty years ago I was deep in the heart of making some very unwise choices...I would have been less than no help. An apt reminder in my morning computer hopscotch...love what you have. And there it is - what we have, who we are. To be thought of in any way has having made myself whole...I will simply say thank you. N.D. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - As in, without the dark, could we recognize the light? Many times I have stopped and felt gratitude for the things I thought life was supposed to be which, to my relief, it is not...linear, clear, easy, tidy. Those gaps do give us a place to stand and survey. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - If I could only pick one, for all time, it would probably be THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler. It would be a pleasure to memorize, if it was my only book; I could act out all the parts. The Los Angeles settings, the era, his gift for description, that for me it holds up well over the decades...and that I first read it when I was a teenager. Impressionable. What would be your choice?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Penelope - Praise be, indeed. xo

Antares Cryptos said...

I understand the allure of mysteries that parallel life. Fiction offers solutions, the end neatly tied up. Perhaps, life does too?
Many science fiction novels (the good ones) offer mysteries in a different setting.
Enjoyed this post. Thank you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - Another of my early author choices was Ray Bradbury, his writing style and subjects so visual. In fact, those could be some good volumes for re-reading...MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN are what I'm thinking of now. I don't even know what all is out there currently in sci fi. Thank you. :D

Angella Lister said...

I have read this post a few times now and each time it reveals something new to me, about myself, about our human condition. It is a stunning piece of writing, of reflection. It ties me up in knots and makes me do the work of unraveling, of making peace. There is an ache that stalks this post. For me, the triumph is in inviting it in, no longer fearing it may be our undoing, knowing it just is. There is so much power in that. Thank you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - Thank you so much. And I can't say that the process is NOT our undoing. If it is, then we are meant to be undone, which I interpret as loosening what has been too binding, releasing ourselves from too small spaces or beliefs, being freed. I know, the word undone conjures all manner of things flying in every direction; chaos, even ruin, certainly the fear of it.

I suspect there in an ache that stalks us all, not the same one but specifically tailored. How we bear it, let it walk alongside, without feeling defeated, here is life's work. xo