|Right in the tit hole, John|
Nobody knows, which is simultaneously disconcerting and wonderful. Your life would lose a great deal of its luster were it not in question. Trust me on that.
No, I'm not going to last forever, which is fine. Or is it? On the Myers-Briggs chart I come out as an "NT", or Rational. That means a lot of things, but mostly it makes me one of those assholes with his head in the clouds, looking at the "big picture", and finding microscopic faults with everything and everyone. I'm a prime source of irritation for those around me, but if it's any consolation, nobody feels the cuts of my own analytical blade more than I do.
So I've been under the knife all day, pruning thoughts, comparing where I've been to where I am. Wondering if it measures up, "it" being my accomplishments, I suppose. Wondering if "I" measure up, meaning my practical positive impact on my environment, I suppose. I don't know that I do measure up, but the good news is that (a) there is still (a continuously depleting cache of) time, and (b) it could be worse. This is my version of health, hope, and optimism by the way.
Sometimes it's difficult to even know what one is. If you dissect yourself logically, there isn't a cell on you that was there even seven years ago. I'm not the same man I was, no matter how you approach the concept. Attack the physical or the ineffable, I make decisions now that would be inconceivable to 23 year old Ryan, whom I now consider an idiot of the highest caliber. I admire that kid's stones, though, I'll tell you that.
As I dug deeper, though, something of a core emerged. The machine may have gotten more complex, and it might operate differently, but it's possible I've always been the same machine.
Let me tell you who I am.
We used to take trips down to New Ulm every couple of months to visit my grandparents. It was a two hour drive or thereabouts, it felt like it took a week to get there. It was the 1970s, mind you, I didn't have a phone that could download cartoons or a television housed in the headrest in front of me. Mostly I just had motion sickness to entertain me.
Puzzles were attractive because they were simultaneously creative and scientific. Puzzles have rules, and strategies. Ultimately, they always make sense - the corresponding shapes will fit together. If it's not fitting together, it aint the puzzle that's broke, it's you. There are clues in the colors, or the borders. If you know what you're building, (if you can see the picture) you can use that information to make productive choices. If you have discipline and can perceive correctly, you can take a giant goddamn mess and create a picture of Pink Panther besting Inspector Clouseau.
I remember one particular trip I brought a Pink Panther puzzle with me and set up my puzzle board in a side hallway near the spare bedroom so I wasn't blocking the path to the bathroom. My dad custom built my puzzle board, and it was one of my prized possessions. I don't know what kind of wood it was, but it was super smooth on the puzzle building side, and had a little texture on the floor side. Knowing my dad, he did that on purpose because a little friction on the floor side would help keep the board from moving if place on carpeting. Holding still is a plus when doing puzzles.
So I finished my Pink Panther puzzle, and then I decided to do it straight away again. I turned it into a next-level game. I had done the puzzle a number of times, so my "victory" wasn't in question. Completing it wasn't the goal in more - I decided to absolutely master it. So I put myself on an internal clock, and vaguely began timing myself, and testing to see how quickly I could finish.
I'd been at the same puzzle for hours, though, and after awhile folks started to notice that I wasn't a dumbass kid taking forever to do one puzzle, but instead was a psychotic dumbass kid rifling through the pieces like a frenetic compulsive, and was getting to the point where I wouldn't make a wrong move and was assembling the thing inside of five minutes. My aunt began to time me, and begged other folks to watch. Which they did. And against their better judgement, some were mildly impressed. But underneath that, they thought I was a bit odd.
And that's who I am, and who I've always been. Trapped in my own little world, marshaling my own pocket of skills into some kind of scientific/artistic nirvana. And a little weird.
The good news is that I'm mostly OK with that. There's something to be said for branching outside of one's pocket nirvana and affecting a better change for those around you. I heartily endorse that concept.
|Not important, but it's what we got|
So even if you cure cancer for all humans for all time, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, you cured cancer for all humans for all time. The bad news is that there are about 200 billion stars in this galaxy, and about 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. There is nothing going on here that is meaningful in the big picture.
Now, that can be depressing, if one is overly tied up in ego, and drama, and selfishness. We're just not that important. The silver lining is that such a realization can also be quite liberating, because it takes some of the pressure off, doesn't it? And in the end, even if you are on the ass end of the Orion-Cygnus arm of the Milky Way, sometimes the most important thing in the universe is whether or not that hot chick you really clicked with last night will call or not. You've got the best of both worlds if you want it.
This has been a very long way of rationalizing my largely irresponsible and socially awkward interest in comic books. It's just another interest, another pocket nirvana for me to explore. There are more than 100 pieces to factor in, and they don't always fit. But it's still fun, and there is a sense that I might master the concept if I show discipline, and there are certainly colorful characters involved.
It's my thing, (for now) and I'm not faking it. And I'm a little weird. When I die, I suspect that a small handful will remember me fondly, and also probably lament that I didn't spend more time with more prudent pursuits. And that's fine. I also bet that many of them will wish that they had spent a little more time in their pocket nirvana on their own journey, instead of marching to some other's orders.
And that's life.