Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Temptation of the Public Poetry Reading, Issue 1: Who You Are

An old friend of mine once introduced me to the idea of going to an open session for poetry reading.  I'm not a huge fan of the rhymy stuff; I can write it all day, but to have to rhyme is to have to be confined.  So I prefer the prose.  I've never been to one; I may never go to one, but the thought that I might like to read aloud at one gives me a small thrill.  With that sentiment, I start the series of writings that I would actually be willing to read aloud.  To qualify, in my mind, they must be ones that I could read with at least bouts of incredibly emotional emphasis--they must be moving, by my reckoning (and, I hope, they are moving by yours).  So, tonight, I begin.

I don't know exactly who you are, but I know it must be enough.  It can't be any other way.

Who you are--who I am--is defined by what we have been.  And what we have been has been a result of our choices, our genetic bridles,  our interpretation of the world's acts upon us, and the actual acts of the world upon us.

As a kid, I was a natural at baseball, but I lost the love too early.  I was passionately and fanatically in love with football, but I started the effort too late.  My spirit, both the built and the inherent, was the spirit and remains the spirit of William Wallace--of an unquenchable thirst to see the abused vindicated and the abusers punished.  A close friend told me a few years ago that I have a problem with forgiveness.  He's right, and part of what I have trouble forgiving is my past, and I would have that trouble regardless of what my past was.

You are who you are.  You love what you love.  The story that creates the you of right this moment is a story that, fast-forwarded, would look like popcorn in a machine, going from seed to popped, or unpopped and remaining seed, bouncing all around in the machine by various forces that, alone, are specific and detailed but together are fully unpredictable, yet when you look at all the popcorn in the machine after the popping is done, the popcorn and the remaining kernels that are unpopped fell in exactly one way.  One, single, defined way.  That became the you of right now.

I accept the me.  I look at my life, right now, and I see the fluffy popcorn in its cubic arrangement.  I see every kernel that didn't pop and lay dormant, I see every unique shape and position of each piece, and I am not allowed to go into the popcorn and swoosh it about, for it is in the past and that's that.  Time travel wouldn't help, because if I swished it all about, then the present me would have no idea what he had interfered with and resurfaced.

Nobody would argue that you can change this or that starting in this present moment, and, indeed, the world would have it no other way.  Anything being shaped is constantly in a process of leaving its old state.  Nobody would argue that accepting your present state is more peaceful and much easier than fighting it.  And in truth, why would you fight it?  Change all you want starting now, but until starting, you can change nothing, so why not accept your present state?  All that has made you is in the past.

You are, right now, exactly what you absolutely must be.  In the future, go ahead, become anew, but what you are right this moment is and forever will be enough for you, because you have no choice in the matter.  All the toil and panic you can muster will not change it.  Would you dare go as far as to accept it and even celebrate it?  I would.  I celebrate who I am right now because the past will never be re-written.  I am a leaf, half-grown from a tree that will die.  I am information that will pass leisurely into and through your eye.  From your moment of birth, you are falling toward your death, and I'm falling with you, and we will both be entirely satisfied with that, in one way or another.

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