Odd Comtemplations 

I've been in a odd contemplative mood for most of the last several days. The summer has now largely evaporated, and the memories of my doing anything substantial during this time are like steam vapors that drift far away from, and well beyond, my grasp. Somewhat hibernating within my darkened bedroom watching re-runs of the various Star Trek incarnations or fighting digital monsters in the fantasy lands programmed inside my laptop, I've effectively isolated myself from the outside world. And the sense of dull dissipation I've developed is like an inertia magnet that only attracts more void, more nothing.

Lately, most of my interesting adventures take place at night when I am deep asleep. For example, in one of my recent dreams, I am traveling through a town with a shallow river running directly through its center. While I am in the act of crossing it, I notice that the river washes over main street and somehow runs into a distant cavern far below. (Perhaps this is an unconscious echo of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan," especially the bit about "where Alph, the sacred river, ran :: In caverns measureless to man.") I manage to make it across the river, only to immediately find myself on a broad wrap-around porch of a wooden Victorian home. It is now dark outside, and I am locked out. I search around the edges of the front door and front windows for some way in, but am unable to make any entry. I begin to hear something, a rustling of activity, below the porch. Leaning over the steps in a brief investigation of the noise, a little girl, just a toddler, appears with large round eyes that are mysteriously shining with an eerie and watery luminescence. The little girl is scared, lost, and has been crying. Moved, I gather her up into my arms, holding her, and she clutches at my side with a strong monkey-like grip. She is still scared, but now a bit mollified that I am taking care of her. I awake soon thereafter.

I've given up on trying to interpret the symbology of my dreams during this period of odd feeling. It is too much work to delve below their surface meanings for obscure insights into my evolving character. But this is not to say that unanalyzed dreams like these do not also have a mysterious effect. It is like being scratched in the unconscious part of your mind: you may feel it's presence during your awareness of it while simultaneously awaiting for the sensation to vanish just as briefly as it appeared. I can still feel the itch of this dream somewhat, but I am also sure that, in another two or three days, I'll probably have forgotten it.

School starts on Monday, so this afternoon, to avoid the inevitable crowds, I bought the yearly parking permit. I am not sure what to expect from this next round of classes as my expectations for myself are under heavy reorganization. In the past, especially with regard to my own assessment of my potentialities, I had been a perfectionist expecting nothing short of total mastery, total success at the many things I attempt. But I am slowly learning that I have often been too hard on myself; the effect of which, when I am unable to meet my own impossible standards, has been to leave plenty room for me to berate myself or allow others to treat me poorly. (After all, if I feel like a failure, then I am unlikely to challenge you when you treat me as if I really were a failure.) Knowing this, I am trying to unlearn unrealistic patterns of perfection, but I have yet to develop a healthy alternative the holds the same motivation that perfection had. Will I always miss not having been able to get a Master's degree in English Literature? Can I feel the same way about a career in graphics that I once did for becoming a professor of literature?

The answers to these questions are not unrelated to my thoughts about perfection, answers that are still shrouded for me. I suppose this leaves me, essentially, in the odd mood I mentioned in the beginning of this post. When you come right to the bottom of this whole thing, I feel confused--a sense that I believe I may have been feeling for awhile now. But perhaps, this feeling of confusion is also a progress of some kind, especially if I remember that, only a year or two ago, I was coming from a place of feeling totally sure about all the wrong things. Certainty leaves too much room for blind spots.

P.S. It has been ten days since this year's fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attack in New York. I admit that I have been too self-absorbed to think about such things lately, but today, while searching through my lists of blogs that I read regularly, I stumbled on this web documentary. It is the thought-provoking account of that attack five years ago from eight professional photographers who were in New York when the attack happened and the towers fell. Towards the end, it perhaps gets too political for some, but if you have the time, I would highly recommend seeing it. Also, if you have the time, you may want to listen to a cab driver's first day driving her cab. It is has a similar connection to the events of 9/11, and happens to be from one of my favorite blog authors.

21 September 2007