Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Destination, Pre-, Post, and Other

Most times when you set out to go somewhere, you have an end destination in mind, a specific place and a good possibility of knowing who and what event you will find.  One o’clock class.  Leave at noon, pick up coffee, arrive in time to find a shady park so that Sally will not feel discomfort, go over class notes and agenda, have a pretty clear idea of who will be in class.  No great drama there.

On a more personalized level, late afternoon Friday or Saturday and you have arrived at the place of zero interest in preparing the sort of supper you’d like to have and so you begin building toward an open-ended attack with an email sent to a number of congenial others with a question:  Anyone have any dinner plans or lack there of?

If you are in an even more specific mood, you might approach your omnibus email with a more direct, Anyone with a taste for the calamari in ink at Olio e Limone?

Sometimes you’ll get an immediate, What synchronicity, I was only now thinking of their calamari.  Sometimes not.  Sometimes, tummy eager for calamari, you are dining alone, over the kitchen sink with a substitute for calamari, piled high on whatever slabs of bread remain, perhaps almond butter, sliced bananas, coconut shreds, and some thickness of a soft, buttery cheese.  The outcome and company will have undergone changes, but the result—dinner—will have been experienced with the very best company you can be.

There are infinite variations on these themes as they relate to ventures “out” into the world, including the fact of your daily walk route having become established not so much through habit as preference, including your preferred shortcuts across some properties and long ways about others.  Some surprises, but not many. An agreeable cat on the lower reaches of Olive Street beyond Victoria.  A homeless man who bunks down in a store front on Anapamu just below its convergence with State Street, showing you some latest title acquired from the thrift shop, asking if you know anything about the author.  All in all, a predictable pleasure with a few unanticipated variations.

You return from such routine ventures more or less comfortable but not overly excited or stimulated.  Such ventures are a sort of steroidal ordinariness, several benchmarks above boring.

When you set forth to read or to compose, there is with certainty little certainty.  You have the sense of setting forth; you might even have recall of the catalyst energy that set you forth on your journey.  There is little doubt this journey is more one of discovery than anything else, the very least you’ll learn about such a journey is how you feel about a specific thing or activity.

To a considerable extent, reading is a similar journey.  You may well find yourself bored silly by a favored writer and transported beyond time zones and habitat by a new or formerly discarded author.

In life as well as in reading and writing, you favor the unknown over the known.  You’re fond of your peers and mentors and students, but you feel drawn to the character who has lost something she valued or has made some egregious mistake, costing him the same kinds of good regard you often feel you have, radiating from those you know.

On balance, you prefer the not-immediately knowable to the safe and comfortable.  Few of your friends are, so far as you know, a rogue or a crook.  To be sure, some are professors or writers, but then again, so are you.  At one time, you knew well where you wanted to go and how you wished to get where you wished to be. You even had in mind projects you hoped to write, convinced that doing so would get you closer to your hoped-for destination.

Now, your destinations are open-ended, tending to such abstractions as challenged, engaged, devoted, evolved to a greater degree, closer yet to understanding the things you find yourself writing in order to gain a grasp of what you plan to make of this understanding.

In all probability, you’ll want to write fiction and nonfiction portraying the understanding you feel necessary to achieve.

You will of course not understand how you reached the understanding nor if it is in fact understanding rather than an entire new abstraction you had not suspected to have existed when you set out on your journey of discovery.

Or was it only your evening walk?  

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