Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Glimpse of Life


I've just recovered some of my older writings from a dying laptop. This seems as good a place as any to preserve them for posterity, and in perpetuity. Memory is so fickle a thing; I actually discover things about myself in these pieces that I've long forgotten, but must remember. I'll time-stagger the publications so as not to dump them all at once. Some of this is actually not too bad, and the rest is atrocious - you've been warned.

A Glimpse of Life

            In life, we have every opportunity to look back on our lives – to question the path we have chosen, to agonize over blunders, to remember all that was and never will be – yet rarely do we approach such an effort with unqualified zeal or methodical erudition. The past is what it should be - past. Coerced, the mind surveys its labyrinth of dreams and memories, laboring to detach reality from fiction. It is the fiction we are left with, a sop of smells and sounds and images dislodged to quiet our despair and inoculate our future. In this lies our survival, for the past bleeds our faith, and the future drains our hope.
            The first sound I remember is the wind rushing past; the first sight – a coat of fur pressing my cheek, my uncle opening a taxi door, the one who held me rushing inside. The wind, you see, I would have caught a cold. I was born in a maternity hospital in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova. Improbable, I know, yet I seem convinced that I remember the day I left, or parts of it, that is. Perhaps it was a dream, but better that it be the way I like it - memory. I was a studious, excelling child. I knew my classmates before I knew to wipe; this, too, I soon learned, for cleanliness is a hallmark of civility, and civility trumps truth. My childhood was swept along in a sweet haze, a warm embrace of curious, self-righteous naiveté from which I've yet to recover. Oh, sure, I did the things that all kids do, and did them no worse than did you, or he, or she. Never has there ever been a time so pure, nor heart so sated, as in those first few years of life. A flash remains, a fuzzy memory, when all that's left for one to see is me, today.
            I found myself at the Sheremetevo Airport in Moscow in late fall of ninety one, sleeping, propped up against some suitcases – the remnants of our past lives. Three days hence, I would be celebrating my ninth birthday in freedom, having already banished the childhood from my psyche with a glee I now find short-sighted. Education followed; a decade's worth of standards and the known to all curriculum. Years spent with my head in the water, literally, burning myself up to race the clock against another. How apt a metaphor that is, for those years, how precise, uncanny! Not still perfection, mind you, but the perfect solitude of a kind – of mind and thought. I reveled in thought, dissecting inputs and calculating output; it would take time to internalize this process of reflection and contemplation. My every movement was awkward, contrived, conspicuous; I would learn to harness my body to complement the social environment – social reflexology, one might say.
            I was betrayed to learn how shoddy this world is, how tenuous its foundations, how incompetent its tenants, how disjointed its procedures; I learned so at my first real job. A remnant of my youth, perhaps, yet I did not grasp, before, that only people – living flesh, malleable and prone to emotional instability – held the key to labor and completion of tasks, the functioning of civilization. I had thought that all was run as the ticking of a clock – methodical and precise, input and output. How rudely awakened I was to discover that sticky human nature, wetware they call it, and not ideas (read "ideals") – clear, concise and mechanical in their certitude – would determine the course of events in my life, as in all lives. Unacceptable, unavoidable, and years gone by I still feel pain from this. How it hurt me the first time that logic ran a brick wall of emotion and lost! How I reeled from this defeat – that I could never explain, that they would never understand. What horror that is, to be alone, with ideas that failed, and not have recourse.
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