Friday, October 18, 2013

Caught in the Web of Words

The dialectic between confidence and uncertainty has provided you enough of a momentary resolution to allow you a few moments in which to bask in a sense of progress.  Although this is a comforting, easy-going state, you don't wish to become too at ease with it, lest it push you into the results of lightheadedness you get after lingering too long in a hot tub.

You like the sense of being on a fine balance point between these two poles, where one misstep can send you into overconfidence or the lower depths of uncertainty, which you reckon to be fear.

Some ideas and work come from the middle ground, but in a revealing way, confidence produces more ideas and more work, enough to get something beyond notes down on paper or screen.  Uncertainty makes you do more in the way of revision than you might have wanted.  Both are your friends.  You need both at close hand, where you can see yourself being led down quite attractive garden paths by either one.

You have memory banks filled with images of you at each side of the bell curve.  You sometimes lose track of the rat tails because, in all frankness, they have the most distressing effect on you, which is to say you have less regard for the you who is overconfident to the point of braggadocio and the you who is uncertain to the point where he is not able to make a decision, unable to get so much as one word on a note pad or screen.

Such thoughts have been with you these past several days in yet another dialectic of significance to you, patience and impatience.
Over the years, you've become more patient with yourself in relationship to your own learning process.  This patience has allowed you a greater patience with students and clients than ever before, to the point where you are less likely the Improvised Explosive Device of your earlier years.  One or two blow-ups a year, with students or at yourself, has become more the norm than the upwards of four or five of past years.

This is good news for your students, for you, and Spider.

You, who have to look at pictures of grebes, godwits, and other shore birds in order to distinguish one from another, have even less familiarity with spiders, except for the understanding that they have eight legs and, were you able to amplify the sound of their gait, would give the sense of two horses walking.

Spider lives a tad below the door line of your kitchen exit.  This is bad news for spider, who sets his or her web at a level where, each time you step outside through the kitchen door, your forehead discovers issues with the web.

The first two or three times, your conversations with Spider were polite, respectful, with no embedded irony.  "Sir or madam, you underestimate my height and my ability to see your web."

In many ways, you've come to admire Spider because of Spider's persistence.  But there are limits to your patience to the point where, about a week ago, "Damnit, Spider" was not enough.  With the cardboard from one of your shirts, you wrested Spider from the remains of the web, then changed Spider's venue to a neighboring persimmon tree.

You thought no more on the matter until earlier this week, in the throes of a need to make your way down the pathway to the laundry room, you caught the glint of sun in the strands of a new web.  That you prefer the Spanish term for spider web, sed arana, silk of the spider or, if you will, spider silk, speaks to your regard for the product.  To repeat, you are no expert on spiders, but there, in a corner well above the door frame, you were quite sure the spider you saw was Spider.  You had empirical evidence to show that you had, somehow communicated your wishes to Spider and that indeed, Spider had understood you, thus a negotiated settlement effected, meaning no further loss of patience for you or Spider.

Of course the cautionary aspect of the dialectic warns you of your anthropomorphising a spider.  And of course you had some choice words for Caution.  But they were spoken with amusement rather than impatience or irritation.

Somehow you had encountered a web of story-like detail, then become part of the kind of negotiated settlement you like in the stories you enjoy from the works of other writers and which you try to approximate in your own.

You are in some ways back to anthropomorphising the spider, looking for ways to use its point of view in a story in which some big lunk of a human was forever messing with its ability to trap flies, the occasional bee or moth, until it was able to convince the human to show it how much clearance it needed to get beyond the kitchen door without messing up its one-of-a-kind webs.

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