Thursday, November 21, 2013

Now

Most days, today being no exception, you will be on a freeway.  Much of the time, you will be focusing directly ahead of you.  Even before your recent, vision-enhancing surgery to replace the lenses clouded by cataract, you had sharp, reliable peripheral vision. Now, that aspect of your perception seems even more enhanced.  Thus the awareness of movements and conditions to either side.

Often, you will glance in the rear view mirror, aware of someone behind you, wishing to move faster than you are moving, wishing you'd get over.  At such moments on the freeway, you are aware of how metaphor rules the way you conduct your self.

You,on the freeway, is a metaphor for you at the present state of your life and, for that matter, at the present state of the moment.  The future is before you.  Digressions await at either side.  The past is directly behind you, sometimes tailgating you.

For all its tests, travails, achievements, failures, and losses, the past has been pretty good, by your reckoning.  Not so good that you wish to retreat to it and remain, edit out some of the failed experiments and disappointments, or temper the losses.  Good enough, however, that you continue to profit from it without wishing to return to it or in most ways consider it "the good old days."  

Those days were, on balance, all right.  They were good in the sense of you being able to extract useful information from them with which to cope with this moment on this particular vehicle, with these present reflexes and skills, overseen by these immediate sensitivities.

Now, if the car behind you on the freeway tailgates you or if the past in metaphor tailgates you, the solution is clear before you.  Change lanes.  Stay on course.

Another fertile source of metaphor is the expression "bad blood."  At one time in your youth, persons with anemia were said to have bad blood or perhaps tired blood.  The purveyors of Fleishman's Yeast were eager to have you believe muddling a cube of their yeast in a glass of tomato juice would in effect wake up your tired blood.

Having inflated or diminished red- or white-cell counts could also be spoken of as bad blood; so, too could leukemia.  You've been quite free of these afflictions, your excursions into bad blood having to do in metaphor with a sense of disagreement bordering on intense dislike showing its presence between you and one or more others.

There is increased difficulty in maintaining friendships or at least friendly conversation with individuals of different political orientation.  But you do try.  And you appear to have a grasp on where there is no possibility of conversation, thus your approach to the late Art Hansel, "better we accept we're on differing sides there, Art, and move on to the things where we can discourse."

There was a time when you were more apt to nurse such bad blood conditions, but dramatic writing and, to a degree your exposure to certain Eastern philosophy, brought you to the place where you feel it important to like all your characters, even those you disagree with.  One individual with whom you'd had bad blood for some time has recently died.  As you absorbed the news of his departure, it came to you that you'd gone a long way toward putting your side of the bad blood on hold.  You'd not taken a cube of yeast or even toasted the departure with tomato juice; you'd simply ceased to care.

Running through your list of potential bad blood arrangements, you're aware of three or four potentials, which is way down from your list from earlier in your days.  In one case, you're willing to let some outside agency, say Fate/Kismet, or karma or even poetic justice have the last laugh, with you willing to indulge some measure of schadenfreude, but even in this case, there is no burning fire, certainly no wish for revenge, no desire to be the one who'd orchestrated the payoff.

The others still generate a tinge of rancor from time to time, but you have told yourself enough times that you were over it to accept your own vision that there is no outstanding balance so far as you are concerned.

The last time something similar caught you, the settlement was exacted in a way you like.  Because of your expertise in areas you'll leave opaque, you were called upon to edit an historical essay which, on examination, turned out to have been written by someone with whom you had a severe issue.

Your immediate thought was to recuse yourself, but your curiosity got the better of you.  After you made a photocopy of the manuscript, you went at it, the flame of revenge a bright, fluorescent blue.  But you resolved from the first paragraph to consider the author a client, thus your goal was to make his work in his own voice resonate with clarity and interest.

You saw his response to the final edits.  "I don't know who did this,"  he wrote, "but I accept all the edits.  It made me a better writer."

In many of the things of his you'd previously read, he was not the writer he'd thought himself.  You could not have imagined a better closure.

Certain actors, Buddhists, and psychologists speak of being "in the moment" or mindful, which is to say alert to the events of now, whether on a freeway, in a metaphorical sense, or, indeed, in the midst of meditation.  Although different in some senses, these approaches converge on the notion of the authenticity of the self right here, in present time.

Forget the distractions from the side mirrors.

Screw the individual in the Range Rover behind you, tailgating you.

You are here for the totality of the experience, which is what you strive to achieve every time you set pen to notepad or finger to keyboard or self to the now before you.


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