Friday, June 14, 2013

In Tent City

You are at comfortable ease with your default position being a willingness to share.  Even when you don't initiate the sharing, your comfort zone allows you to acknowledge your willingness nevertheless, should you be asked to share most things.

You'll want to devote a fuller and more focused investigation to the attitudes, tones of voice, or other external clues in orbit that cause you to deliver a prompt, incisive "No" to requests.  One no in particular comes from a charity you once extended a twenty-five-dollar donation, some two or three years ago.  Since that donation, you've received requests from the same charity, often printed on high-quality paper stock with a significant enough basis weight to bump the request beyond the standard first-class postal rates.  By your estimation, the charity has spent well over twice the amount on subsequent requests and (you're wondering whether to put quotation marks about the word)newsletters, a fact you reckon defines the charity's use of funds to add direct help to their cause.

That prologue established, you venture the two things you stand most of all willing to share are stories and enthusiasm.  Although you often find yourself hoping for a better balance, you hold no illusions about the number of persons alert to accept your stories, even less illusions about the possibility of individuals who are willing to go to great lengths to avoid your stories at all costs or, the nail the door shut, at no cost whatsoever.

If you are rich in anything, you are rich in enthusiasm.  A publisher, interviewing you to run the Los Angeles office of her empire, asked you what was so special about you.  Your reply focused on your taste and your enthusiasm.

The publisher waved both away.  "You must keep both in check or you will be contracting a great many books that do not earn their keep,"  she said with what seemed to you at the time as a snap.

You sensed your fate for being hired on the line there, demanding an appropriate reply.  "In balance,"  you said, "my aggregate sales will outweigh any losses."  You could as well have said--and thought to do so--"My average will be every bit as profitable as yours."  You could well have said, but wisely thought not to, "My monthly salary is the merest decimal of your monthly returns."  (By which you meant the staggering rate of massmarket paperbacks that found their way to the pulping machines.)

She apparently liked your attention to those matters, but she also reminded you whenever she saw you about curbing your enthusiasm.

You suppose there are individuals who curb their intensity and appetite for what they are doing.  You have met individuals who have what you consider anemia of enthusiasm.  You have met individuals who have taken you on for your enthusiasm and intensity.  As well, you have taken your own self on for those times when your intensity was not up to your standards.

The dichotomy is quite clear:  you can be intense or not.  You can be intense about living and the stages associated with one's orbit through living, or you can be inert or passive to the point of adopting Bartleby's choice of preferring not to do whatever is requested of him.  Although there are arguments to be made for Bartleby's seeming passivity being quite a straightforward --mixing the philosopher and metaphor here--No, In Thunder (See Carlyle), he pretty well shut down.  You have no talent for a complete shutdown, even when saddened or depressed or frustrated.  You are pleased to be lacking this ability.  When you see it resident in others, you have neither envy nor jealousy.

However dismal the emotional climate in which you have found yourself, there has always been something above and beyond the climate which you can discover to the point where it will suffuse you with the energy necessary to move along the path toward the next venture.

There are times when, knowing you will be spending the evening at home, you will nevertheless bathe, shave, and select a fresh shirt to pursue your planned evening.  The matter does not need to rest there.  You may just as well prefer the comfort of a sweat shirt, athletic socks, and gym shoes.  Such matters are choices, made after deliberations.  The deliberations come from--you guessed it--intensity.

Your choice in friends and activities depend on intensity.  You are comfortable with sharing only such intensity as you have at the moment, but knowing you are to be with friends or if the "friend" is a book or a concerto or ballet or long recording of a jam session, the offer is still there and you enjoy the extent of your being a host in terms of the intensity you offer as a host, whether it is to close ones, to students, to your work, and of course to yourself.

The pickled watermelon rind, the pate terrine, the Hollandaise sauce, the English digestive biscuits, and other seeming anomalies in the kitchen storage are reflections of various degrees of intensity and enthusiasm.

Why would you ever chose not to be intense?  You've tried any number of modes, of places at the depths of despair, frustration, doubt.  You've tried as well elation, mischievousness, curiosity, unabashed appreciation.  Regardless; down or up, why would you chose to entertain any of these without intensity?

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