Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Call me prosaic

No matter how many times one tries to make it a musical, life has a way of becoming a laundry list. One keeps wanting to sing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning", but then one finds oneself sonorously reciting "extra starch?".

It's just hard to get around the fact that so much of life as it is lived is comprised of entirely mundane activity. My wife and I once took a glider ride over the Napa Valley in California. We cruised high above wine grape fields, neither threatened nor worried, just so sleek in our altitudinous splendor. In my mind, all life should be a glider ride above the Napa Valley. But the thing about those glider rides is that one pays one's money, one gets one's half an hour aloft, and then one is brought back down to earth gently, delightfully, and yet inevitably.

I'm perfectly content with the notion that the mundane tasks of our lives acquire a certain zen-like meditative something. If I'm not really putting food in my dogs' bowls, but instead performing some ancient ritual of merging into the exit lane from the wheel of life, I'm pretty much down for that. But when I look at my somewhat disorganized car, and my badly disorganized "art room", I realize that my zen is not tidy. It's a dishevel which runs beyond the merely physical. It's a whole spiritual imperfection. It's not so much that I lack good karma, it's that my karma is so boring.

Years ago, I dated a woman who, after some years of an Atman relationship (you know, we're 'not this, not that'), said to me "We say the same things to each other over and over. All that really changes is the phrasing". At the time I thought this mildly profound, albeit a really condescending way to tell me that I was not as important in her life as I then wished to be. But as the years go on, I realize that in so much of my life, I have a repertoire of ideas essentially five or six sentences long. All that changes is the number of prepositional phrases which I append to my deepest inmost five or six lines.

So the gospel of Gurdonark would not need both tablets to tell. I could probably get by on less than the full ten commandments, if I had to set out my credo in Old Testament terms. My ideas don't require the consumption of an entire burning bush. A lighted sheet of construction paper would probably hold the entirety of my inspiration. It's just who I am--and somehow it's comforting to know that if I ever did write a novel, it would probably involve robots and aliens and civilizations in which long discourses on xenotheology replaces good characterization. I notice lately that the only plots of novels I think of in recent years contain phrases like "radio telescope", "genome", or "the problem of faith in a multi-planetary context". Those who can interest, do. Those who cannot, bore into sci fi.

I don't really have a big problem with being one of life's fundamentally non-creative people. I am spared the soul agony of being misunderstood. There's not that much about me to understand, and I have been given in compensation a facility for dinner party cleverness which allows me to repackage my feeble ideas over and over. I also have an immensely practical turn of mind, which allows me to temper my dreams with analysis of how to integrate the cold, cruel real world into my thinking. I don't have some cosmic gift which is never understood. I have my little two cents to put into the collection plate, and I'm cool with the fact that somebody has to be the metaphoric widow, and just give the mite she has. If not everybody "gets" me, well, then let me tell you a secret. That widow may have gained the kingdom of Heaven when she gave her mite, but I'll bet she had a hard time getting dinner invitations.

My frustration, in short, is not that in the pantheon of the universe, I'd a minor, faintly visible minor constellation, visible only because of a quirk at a community college planetarium,
where during assembly of the star projector, somebody mistook some dust for spots that needed to show up during the planetarium show.
My frustration, instead, is that for a boring person, I sure am deficient at mundane tasks.

Every day I deal with people who eschew the creative life of the inward mind, but in return are great salespeople, snappy dressers, neat as the proverbial sewing pin, or really good with their hands. I suppose, really, that each of these people are truly creative, and then sublimate their creativity to be truly something else. But I'm a one trick pony that forgot his trick.
I sublimate my lack of creativity into a lack of skill at a world of other things.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be Martha Stewart. For one thing, spending so much time on the telephone discussing biotech stocks would get old after a while. But I've heard that when someone loses a basic sense, the other senses strengthen a bit in order to compensate. All righty, then, Universe--you're not going to give me a screenplay, or a novel, or even a solid poem. Why can't you at least give me the ability to always ensure the oil is changed at 3,000 miles and the ability to effortlessly tidy an office? It seems a small compensation to ask.

At least I have the southern ability to speak with strangers without entirely boring them in five seconds. Of course, this requires a certain "hey y'all" thing which I absorbed by osmosis growing up in what must have been the most frighteningly friendly town in America. It's not always the sort of discussion mode into which one can slip "hey, what's up with that Man Ray guy? Do you get him at all?". When I move beyond this type of pleasant but mildly glib talk-about-the-weather-and-how-'bout-them-Razorbacks mode of speech, then I can see eyes glaze--politely, in the most faintly discernible way, but definitively.

So I see life as that old short story about the guy who is left to choose between two doors--behind one is a lady, and behind one is a tiger. I've written before, I believe, that I personally choose neither. But in fact, in life, I think I often choose each, and guess what? Behind the rightward door is laundry detergent, and behind the leftward door is a broom.

I suppose the upshot of all this is that I find myself redoubling my efforts to accept what I have, rather than longing for what I am not. What I have is not bad--a kind wife, a nice home, a job I can do, the ability to pitch in and help once in a while, a grip on reality. What I don't have, a novel, a gift for drawing, the ability to get my prom date to slow dance to "Maybe I'm Amazed", well, maybe these are things one can live without. Maybe I'm one of life's mop carriers, and not even that good at doing the floors.
But I suppose we all help as best we can, and if I am to help in prose, not poetry, that's okay by me.
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