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Thursday, August 6, 2015

SO I CONTRADICT MYSELF


mlle hipolyte
 
Last Sunday, talking with a new neighbor who is transforming the interior of the house recently bought, Colonel Holbrook's house in Air Bellows, we were each telling our stories in brief, the kind of conversation I've not had in a great many years. Back then, I was uncomfortable giving a brief of where I'm coming from and talked awkwardly from inability to roll it into a ball and stuff it into a nutshell. I never say I'm an artist. I'll say I make art objects sometimes. Somebody asks if I'm an artist, I'll say yes, because nobody listens to conversational footnotes. Six years of self-examination writing these blog entries, I've become comfortable making that little ball and putting it in the nutshell. I astounded myself at the ease of defining self in a few sentences. It was after rounding up Jenny and Jack with such ease I could hardly believe it, and didn't believe it until they were back in their meadow. I went back to thank him for telling me they'd grazed his lawn in the night, and for letting them be. He didn't know where they belonged to call me. We talked for awhile. In my self-definition, I heard self say, "This is the best time of my life, I love my life as never before, and I'm ready to go on at any time," adding that I'm glad I've lived long enough to know donkeys. I have loving my life as it is and willingness to go on, equally. Hearing self say it, I thought: wow, what a good place to be. I don't know what it sounded like to somebody else, but it sounded like home to me.
 

mlle hipolyte
 
What is it that makes the happiest time of my life? For one thing, not needing a job, because I've learned how to live on an amount of Social Security calculated to be not quite enough. I'm not wasted at the end of a day after giving my energy to somebody else's profit-making for minimum wage. Feel like taking a nap, I lie down on the bed and sleep. The freedom to nap is the best part. Though bears, wolves and coyotes keep me out of the woods now, I love it they are here. I marvel seeing fresh bear territorial droppings on the crest of the rise in the road where the bear can see a few hundred acres landscape. I feel about the woods now like I feel about the ocean. Everything in it is looking for something to eat. I am meat. Best to stay in my world of houses, cars, roads, fenced meadows. I will not walk in the woods with a .45 in a shoulder holster. I will not. Just the thought takes all the fun out of walking deer trails. In my first weeks on the farm, I was required to get with the Wildlife officer about something concerning Christmas trees. A time we were walking up the road, he justified hunting to me, since I was new, saying, "God give us dominion over the beasts of the field." He quoted book, chapter and verse. Dominion is permission to kill. I thought, Yeah, a tyrant's definition. I realized in this moment I interpret dominion to mean the responsibility to care for and nurture.
 

mlle hipolyte
 
In my first years among the people of the mountains, I was unsettled by the passion for killing. Old man Tom talked with emotional passion when he talked about killing something. His only other passion in conversation was his Lord. When Tom set to talking about his Lord and his interpretation of parables, his face glowed pink, actually glowed. And in the evenings, in the gloaming, he sat with a .22 rifle, a good one, in a second floor window overlooking his garden with no fence, belly-shooting deer that found his garden, so they'd go off and die someplace else. I had a difficult time reconciling this dichotomy. He thought absolutely nothing of killing or hurting a non-human. In his theology, they have no soul, thus the same as a fence post or a rock. It's a matter of power, a contradiction that runs through the entirety of mountain culture in my, then, way of seeing. In a way, it is a holy right, God-given permission. I can't say it's not. In this relative world of duality, I've learned to accept contradictions in others, even in self. It was a freeing moment to accept my own contradictions, own up to them, allow them, not because they are rational, because we are vast Persian carpets within, so complex and interwoven, who can keep up with contradictions? Allow them and go on, the only way I know to live with them and not go cuckoo with self-blame.


mlle hipolyte

Recalling my first experience of accepting my own contradictions, someone I knew at the time, whose life achievement had been the second hippie in Raleigh, NC State dropout, someone who got his kicks killing conversation with one-upmanship games. Anything you can do, I can do better. And dedicated to the television. One day he pointed out to me that I contradict myself. The game. I didn't give a shit and he pist me off. I said, "To quote Walt Whitman, So I contradict myself." He didn't like that. I'm expected to dedicate my life to correcting a totally meaningless flaw in my character to validate that he knows more about me than I know about myself. In that moment, I realized self-contradiction is what we do. I had not understood what Whitman meant when he said it until that moment. We don't do everything rationally. We use reason to solve problems. We go about everyday life emotionally, levelled by reason. I like living with the freedom passed to me by Walt Whitman to contradict myself and have no issue with it. It helps make forgetfulness that goes with white hair into fun instead of aggravation.
 

mlle hipolyte
 
 
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1 comment:

  1. Love this essay, Tj! I totally relate...SO spot on!

    ReplyDelete