Stories

Highwire

Copyright (c) 2003 J.D. Chapman All Rights Reserved

It's a Friday morning, and although I get a day off for a floating holiday, I'm gravely conflicted: I'm torn into ragged shreds at the midpoint of doing things for my soul and doing things for fun. A disparate observation that I shared yesterday with John is rattling around in my brain -- sabers and chainmail -- battling a conflicting precept. The precept is that "the belief that live is worth living helps to make it so." What I told John, however, was that fundamentally I am a cynic.

My cynicism is a premature disappointment in the future that comes from getting kicked in the head enough times in my life that I now expect it. Every viewpoint is through a smoked lens wondering when the next catastrophe, the next car accident, or the next family heart attack will strike.

And yet I also know that the mere attitude of looking toward a positive future, the best that could be, opens up my eyes to the opportunities that could develop. In other words it is growth itself that contains the germ of my happiness. By thinking of where I could grow I unlock the gates to my productive serenity.

The entire view of the foresight creating the foresight is the whole tamale, the yin and the yang both concordantly, what I can will myself to believe and my gut-feel from life’s frequent disasters. It's the imagination of my artistic skills versus the constant dodging of folks trying to stab me in the back. These are the orbs flanking my restless wobbling.

On the one hand I can foresee myself as homeless and out of work, because American female society (outside of my daughters) has more value in my being dead than my being alive, and I have been laid off without much notice before. When I read the writing on the wall it says downhill on a dearth of hope.

On the other hand I know that I am flooded with the numerous possibilities of the quiescent shifts that might make my life worth living. My daughter could become an accomplished world-renown ice skater. I could find a beautiful, intelligent, athletic, and spiritual woman to be my wife and soul mate. I could win the Lotto.

As the winds of happenstance change my life I sway to counterbalance their prevailing forces to keep from falling either one way or the other. Staying balanced is not an idle challenge. On this trek the winds become strong and gusty; the path narrows: now a balance beam, now a highwire, now a laser beam, now a dotted line of atoms.

The income from my job slowly increases the expectations of the people that know me. It is a slow-growing mountain raised gradually by the tectonic plates of my profession. When talking to somebody who appreciates my gainful employment, they impose upon my graces for their own benefit; when I question how I should appropriately help others it challenges my balance.

My income also spoils me to travel, where I run into more influential people. At times these folks disdain what I do for a living; I then need to buttress myself with the knowledge that some other aspects of my life justify my existence.

My work thus creates an environment whereby my exposure to more souls pares down my buffer zones -- it trims down my shoulders. The slow earthquakes raise me higher but also make my downslopes steeper. The narrowing continental divide strips me naked and clarifies me. I find that after a short while I have little time for anything other than jockeying for balance.

So why not give in? It's simple, it's just saying, "okay, here's my soul, let's fall in love, I'll give in to bliss". Or it's just gravitating toward fun, living life to the extremes, and then allowing the despairs of life to come crashing in a landslide about me.

Well, I've already been there, I've already done that, I already have the T-shirt. The bliss eventually ends and the uncoupling hurts as much as the love ever helped. And although despair is certain to have its muted silver undertones and increased sensitivities, the associated pain is not something I eagerly pursue. So it's better to stay balanced smack dab in the middle.

It's more than Zen
   When I'm thinking I could be doing something,
but just watching myself think instead, not motivated but not
unmotivated
   It's less than nothing, more like a position, a location, a quantum
condensate
Not even a thought,
      it is just a realization that will pass.
Drowned in sorrow from my daughter's murder
   broken bones twisted in a car wreck
colon cancer.
Filled with joy and passion from the love of my life
   The best sex like biting into a juicy warm pear and
as mind-blowing as the best rock and roll
I am neither, on a razor's edge and a breath of wind
   everything that could possibly be, both the best and the worst,
slightly out of reach
not that I'm trying. I'm more shying away, dodging
   Teetering between despair and bliss,
living a normal nine-to-five with a one hour commute.
The trick is to stay there.