Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flowers in the Wind

"All any of us needs is more time. Time to stand up. Time to grow up. Time to let go.Time." - from Grey's Anatomy



I've been thinking a lot about fate lately, and time, and choice versus circumstances. I've been thinking about how things move the way they do, and how paths intersect at the slightest second, and how lives proceed from one day to another, and how things change at the slightest instant and we never control these things - we set up the circumstances, but these things do not have to happen. History emphasizes this again and again: human folly reminds us that, once again, we are not perfect. That we cannot expect to receive what we give, and what we intend to give. And so it becomes a sink or swim situation: do we save ourselves or do we try to save others, despite the margin of chance, despite everything our genetic structure and our primal programming tells us to do?

I've been thinking about movement as well, of how we fall into creature comforts and habits, how days ebb and flow around us, time dictating our every action and reaction. What we know now might have been something we did not know five minutes ago, five seconds - and yet, this knowledge, this realization, this awareness forever influences our way of thinking and approaching others and ourselves, and we are not the same person we were five seconds ago. On a cellular level, we constantly morph and change out of our skins, we evolve into new beings every moment of every day. We do not inhabit the same trappings that we did when we were born. The only thing that establishes us as a person, an identity, is a memory - and we know how fragile and malleable memory can be.

I always thought that the universe allows for a certain measure of both - we move in a world influenced by others, but we also influence it. There is nothing given that is not taken, but what is taken might not always be given back. People cannot be trusted to do what is good, or what is right, or what is socially acceptable all the time, simply because this is human nature. We move according to the dictates of our desires, and our desires are bound only by a prescribed notion of the world around us. For instance, I would like to move back a couple of weeks down the line and change a few choices I made. But that is desire. And the universe does not always conform to what we desire. This is why we accept things. But sometimes acceptance does not come as easily as one would wish it to be.

And so, given the circumstance, what choices does one have?

What makes us human, what separates us from the animals, is our ability to create art - something beautiful out of something complicated and (sometimes) painful and (sometimes) messy. We create art out of emotion and reason, out of craft and magic and something not quite nameable, something that forever eludes our grasp of totally understanding why the world works the way it does and why we are moved to make choices the way we do. We do not create things, we do not approximate God out of nothing - we do what we have to do because the circumstances have set it up, but that does not mean that it is an inevitability. Only organic unity and New Criticism demands inevitable endings. Not real life. Not this day-to-day existence. Not the world we live in.

There are days when it's much too hard to see beyond the surface, to see what lies ahead. Hope is not as easy to maintain as slippages, as misery - this slow sliding towards an inevitable. But one has to remember that this is temporary, that time's cruelty of passage can also be seen as a kindness - that things, too, must pass, like cut flowers after a certain number of days. And that because time moves, we are aware that stasis is not a permanent state of mind, that circumstances change as well, and that choices, new choices, have to be made. And here, we teether on the edge, a balancing act. But maybe choice is not as easy a binaristic way of looking at it, of a right/wrong, black/white difference. Maybe this is where we learn to accept things, to create another ending, another beginning.

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