Thursday, August 20, 2009

rites of passage

One of your earliest rites of passage, unless you count being born as one, came well before you'd managed to put thought processes together or in any way consider story telling as an avocation.  Because of the culture you were born into, this rite of passage was managed for you,deemed a necessity, even spoken of in the Old Testament as something necessary for your membership.  Other rites of passage were presented to you at times when you were thought to have cognitive abilities, emphasized in such a way that you knew saying no to them was taking yet another step toward the edges, toward the margin, toward the place where inner fantasy and outer reality were separated only by the faintest blur.

School was definitely a graduated series of rites, during the course of which it became yet another rite to chose your place.  As the character in Hawthorne's short story, "The Intelligence Office," so plaintively called forth, "I want my place! my own place! my true place in the world! my proper sphere! my thing to do, which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my lifetime! "  You at least came forth with that answer supplied to you and with such other rites as first publication, first booklength manuscript written, first seemingly cosmic sign that you were on the right path.

There were other rites of passage as well, involving the sense of otherness the self can experience when falling in love and out of love, both in sexually oriented and non-sexual ways.  There were rites of passage involving rejection slips and of placing second in races or competitions, rites of first publication for short stories written pseudonymously and then booklength stories written with pseudonym.  There were rites of passage in which you experienced the sense of not being able to give away things you had written for no fee and rites of passage involving your work, if it can be called that, in television.

You used to be a fair-to-middlin centerfielder, thus the rite of passage in one pick-up game of being bidden by a younger team mate to "Throw it over here, sir."  That is a rite of passage proving to be a harbinger of many such instances where you are accorded the honorific of sir, followed by that of professor, which first came about as a vote in 1974.  These things do not make you wiser or more equipped to pursue those rites of passage that await you.  In some cases, throwing out or disavowing specific rites of passage offer the opportunity to move nimbly along the path.  Friends are great comforts, lovers are sturdy reminders of safe havens and inspiration, dogs are perhaps more remarkable even than books, music is the language of the heart when it is trying to find out what you want from life, thus you never wish to be without these and yet there are places where these things properly cannot reach you, places where you must leave all your belongings except your memories if you are to keep moving, to enter those places where you and story are one, each of you in effect trying to tell the other, to relate the true meaning each of the other.

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