|Have you ever wondered why Robert Frost chose the road less travelled? Maybe you belong to the camp that believes that Frost never actually took the road less travelled, he just chose one and then, valorized it later as being the road less travelled. Either way, the question here is of choice between two similar looking roads and I can tell you something about making that choice. One of my kind made that choice for him; however, I cannot be certain if Frost followed the advice. I still struggle with this relationship that I have with my person. Sometimes it seems that I can order it around, at other times it just refuses to listen.
In either case, I have a feeling that maybe it is not just me, who is confused about how everyday decisions just happen, every sense is. They pretend to be a lot more certain though. They have to be! Their inputs, so to speak, are a lot more tangible. You know, you look around you and you know that you are looking at a table when you are looking at a table. You know the smell of your favorite bakery. You know the taste of your favorite dessert. You know the sound of your favorite song. You know the difference between a touch that cares from the one that scares.
Of course, every sense deals with the unfamiliar in the plethora of experiences that are familiar. I, however, deal mostly with the unfamiliar. I can look at a table and turn it into an interior design marvel, if my person is predisposed to it, or I can look at it and turn it into a barricade during a gunfight. There are times when I am the Muse; there are others when I am the Calling. I guess this valorization is a part of strange encounters with unfamiliar realities.
Talking about strange encounters with unfamiliar realities, this memoir is turning into one such encounter for me. The mind understands memories as discrete events. Of course, it knows that they are connected, sometimes memories have rhythms of routines, at other times, they become expressions of change in the way my person feels. Emotions color memories! Descriptions color memories! Honestly, memories are so fucking dishonest! You cannot possibly associate a singular pattern that binds them together except the pattern of my person’s existence. I understand memories as discrete threads in the complex fabric of my person’s existence. I specialize in pulling these threads and articulating a complex mesh of relationships between them that allows this fabric to unfold into a life.
I think the most difficult part of my job is dealing with the linearity of time. As time moves forward (unapologetically, I must add) some of these threads coalesce together forming, so to speak, a heavy node and I inevitably become predisposed in my pattern making. You call them routines; I call them tangible obstacles. There is a certain obsession with objectivity here, that I aspire, but I fail. I have always failed. But, I keep hanging on in.
Recently, my person encountered a description of Jazz that captures to some extent what I do. Jazz is about playing in the moment (time stops!) where the structure of music and how it works becomes the foundation for tinkering with patterns. The play of Jazz continuously tries to subvert this pattern or rather, extends the limits of it. In my case, memories as routines form the structure of my function and I continuously try to Jazz it up! I am a weaver, a musician, a computer, and in between, all the different roles that I play, I use the past as a gateway to the future of my person.
|Time is an arrow. Goes straight! But, life is not straight. It is curvy. Sometimes a full circle. Sometimes an arc. The problem with the past is that it likes straight lines. I like symmetry. Are straight lines not symmetrical? Yes, they are in a more conventional structure of understanding symmetry. However, I hate structures. Have you ever been comfortable in a straitjacket? Symmetry is aspirational. An end unto itself. It is like benzene. A snake eating its tail. A full circle.
I constantly wonder how do you turn the life of my person symmetrical. There are so many symmetries at play here. Symmetry with oneself. Symmetry with the people that my person knows, cherishes, loves, hates, and there so may permutations and combinations of emotions here. Emotions are such lovely little shots of chaos. They turn everything upside down so easily.
Then, there is symmetry with the people my person does not know. There are occasions of sonder when my person realizes that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex, populated with ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness as my person. Every other person is like my person with an epic story that continues invisibly like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that my person would never know existed. Lives in which my person might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
It is amazing how articulate you can sound when you are simply copy-pasting patterns from the past! Of course, the question here for me is how are you symmetrical in your relationships with people you don’t even know. How are you symmetrical with the world, this planet, this solar system, the universe?
If the entire universe is a giant quantum computer (as we now tend to believe) then the search for symmetry becomes a problem of processing information. This is not new to me. Rationality demands puzzles. One puzzle after another. It is another form of aspiration. Who am I to question aspirations of others? However, some puzzles have ends, while others are recursive. I think rationality demands recursion too. I search for ends. Not puzzles. Just ends. End is the purpose. I do not pull threads; I travel their expanse. Just to see where they end.
To me, curiosity is irrational. Patterns predict ends without traversing them. Patterns are not curious. They are just sad little epitaphs of rationality. Does that make me and by extension, you irrational? Are we all rational? Do we have to be rational?
What is a table? Is it what I know about a table or is it just that the table exists as a thing like so many other things? A thing is a thing, not what you say about the thing. Things can be puzzles, some more complex than others. They have ends too. How do you know that you have reached the end of a thing? That is why I look to the future. Things have a future and by extension, an end in the future. The travel continues, it never ends, and I continue looking for ends.
How do you know you have reached the end? The thing is that you never know. You just exist. You are just curious. You want to know how it actually ends. Come away with me, but know that I do not have patterns as answers. I do not need them. Do you really need them? Is life easier to live because you know the pattern?
I ask too many questions. That is what I do. The future is a question, innit!?
The offer is on the table. I wonder if any amount of time would be enough to make this call. However, time is a luxury I do not have. Being in a coffee shop surrounded by other people makes it all the more difficult. Coffee shops oscillate between the familiar and the unfamiliar. You always know what to expect from a coffee shop, but you cannot possibly know if your expectations will be met. Will I like the strong aroma of the roast in this shop? What if the coffee is just not strong enough? Will it taste good? How will they call out my name today? Will I have to spell it out again? How loud are the conversations? Can you just have a coffee and a conversation without worrying about whether somebody is listening in?
I know these coffee shops; they are all same, yet different. Different ambience, smells, sounds, lightings, tastes and most of all, different experiences. My eyes are closed, while the wait for my answer continues. Do I make decisions on the spur of the moment? Have I ever made them? What about the time when I asked her out just because I loved her smell? That was a spur of the moment decision. It backfired so horribly! What about when I decided to put some ginger in my coffee? That was weird too! Then, there was this time when I just left home because I was pissed. It has never been easy since then to go back, but I love that decision. It helped! I am sane because of it.
Now, that I come to think of it, I do make decisions on the spur of the moment and I decide to stick with them too. Has that helped? Would my life be better than it would have been, if I had made the other choice? There must be a parallel universe out there somewhere, where I make the other choice. It is amazing how life becomes a binary. Do I really have to make this choice right now? Can it wait? Maybe forever! I understand Mr. Nobody so much better now. What if you are unable to make a choice? Can you live two lives simultaneously? Be this and be that, following my own uncertainty principle. Life is uncertain anyway.
“What does your gut tell you?”
|This happens so often. My person makes choices that make life difficult for everyone my person knows. There is a lot of moving on. New friends, new challenges, new places, new sense of being one with time. It is a pattern in itself.
The question is will my person break this pattern or embrace it. As far as the pattern goes, my person should take this offer. Life is happier when it is challenging. There is always something to do. When does a pattern become crazy?
|Two threads. Ends involve choices. You cannot see everything reach its end. Some threads are closer to the heart than others are.
This situation is a random stroke of luck. Things happen. They do not need rational explanations all the time. Why this? Why not that? You can make yourself go mad over choices. What thread is more important to you? Threads just wait, like roads, for you. Maybe someday my person will embrace this choice. It will become the thread less travelled.
The question echoed around for a while in my head. My eyes are still closed. I have not opened them since the offer was made. I did not open them to acknowledge the question. The wait continued. What is life if I know everything there is to know about it? Isn’t that boring? Some people are afraid of change. I feel decisions are so much easier for them. They know their pattern of existence and they can choose to follow it. Make decisions that do not deviate from the line of best fit abruptly. Manageable deviations. Life is predictably knowable. Sometimes it is happy; at other times, it is just mundane. Am I that kind of person? Why do I smell ginger?