Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Sandbox in the South Playground

1. Journeyman carpenters have a measure-twice-cut-once approach to their craft.

2. Scientists like the idea of building a steady foundation on which to erect an edifice; they search endlessly for answers that will explain how and why things are.

3. Religionists search endlessly for answers to the how and why of existence.

4. Often the scientists and the religionists tangle, like the Bloods and Crips in South Central, wanting dominance over the turf.

5. The carpenters look on, shake their heads, continue measuring twice before cutting once.

6. From a vantage point, the writer takes notes, measures, supposes, speculates, wanting to make order of the chaos, mindful of the turf war between chaos and order, often sympathizing with the sense of satisfaction inherent in the cocept of order.

7. A clean room. A clean work area. A clean sheet of paper. A blank computer screen. Foundations waiting to be built upon. Destinies awaiting fulfillment.

8. When you were in the second grade at Hancock Park Elementary School, your destiny was to spend your recesses playing in the South Playground, limited to a collection of packing crates and a large sand box. Your destiny was to progress to the North Playground when you achieved third grade status, there to daily challenge Georgia to a game of tether ball, there to be relentlessly beaten because among other things Georgia was taller, wiser, more coordinated than you, a fifth grader who had, you recognize now, the ability to plan ahead. 

 In the South Playground your idol was Norman, a sixth grader who was the playground monitor, a sixth grader of unimaginable destiny and skill whom you constantly attempted to impress with your sandbox constructions. "No foudation," Norman said, implanting within you a response you sometimes used when considering the destiny of some of your ideas, later a response that came to mind when, as an editor, you were declining, rejecting manuscripts from writers.

9. Once when you were an editor, declining, rejecting manuscripts, in fulfillment of a errand presented you by your mother, you ventured into the Fordis Meats, a kosher butcher on Fairfax Avenue, in quest of a pound of ground round. 

 When the butcher asked if he could serve you, you recognized him to be Norman of the South Playground. The location of Fordis Meats is a tad more than a mile from Hancock Park Elementary School and the South Playground. This, you thought, is where your destiny has brought you. What you said was, Are you happy now?

10. Throughout the history of our species there have been remarkable men and women of inquiring mind, some scientists, others historians, writers, poets, dramatists, religionists, all attempting to find according to discipline and temperament a Unified Field that would explain or demonstrate the order within the percieved chaos. Some might argue that Heraclitus came the closest by arguing, as the poet Ezra Pound put it in Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, "All things are a flowing/Sage Heraclitus says/and a tawdry cheapness/Shall outlast our days."

11. It is no small thing to attempt some kind of satisfying order from the rush of chaos about us; it requires a lifetime of observation and questioning. Do we, you might ask, think in order and act in chaos? Or, conversely--

12. Are you happy now, you who are perhaps one hundred miles from the South Playground?


R.L. Bourges said...

11. Without hesitation, I say: Conversely, Shelly. And vice-versa.
Let me reconsider here before typing in word verification... Yes, that it's. Definitely.

Lori Witzel said...

12. Yep.

Further: since the locus is ever-shifting and the circumference ever-expanding (now, no teasing about that bite of gnocchi I had Monday at lunch)...isn't it true that the north and south playgrounds are conflated with those east and west, that the playground is everywhere and nowhere, and that, as it turns out, the deadly serious play of childhood finally dissolves into real play, true play, when we climb out of the sandbox and into our selves?


Anonymous said...

Happy now... Perhaps in my case happiness is still the animal I pursue, stalking it carefully and waiting for the perfect opportunity to spring and wrestle it into the ground, until it screams for mercy and graces me with it's smile. 1 mile or 100 miles from the South playground, I will pursue my quarry with the utmost determination.