Saturday, April 9, 2011

How far, how fast we travel.

It's been said that the whole blogging phenomenon is essentially a mass exposition of narcissism.  I can see that point of view, as I can see the whole modern consumerist western edifice of society as driven by just that very narcissistic impulse.  To love ourselves into a sense of safety and security that our too-slowly-evolving hunter-gatherer headwiring does not allow, perhaps.  More personally, I acknowledge my sometime delight in seeing my expression of myself here in the mirrored surface of the online pond, shining back at me with the assurance that as I can see evidence of myself there, I must be - as I think I am.

Of course, that is but one part of my own motivations for engagement online, with the social aspects more and more fulfilled of late by work for the real-food-for-tubeys cause and the countertextual plays of wittery, blathery and genuinely meaningful engagement through Facebook and the like.  Which is why I'm not blogging as much - well, partly.  But I've had cause to re-read an old and quite personal post here, and what's touched me the most is not how different a person I feel to that person who wrote it (in his then-narcissism, if you will), because I feel really used to changing now: Rather what struck me was just how recently I wrote it.

I mentioned just a little while ago that I've got two book writing projects going on right now.  As part of that I'm writing a piece including stuff about what it was like for me to get my feeding tube.  I was merrily tapping away at the keyboard when I remembered - "I did this a while back".....and if you haven't read the story I'd encourage you to read it before going on (I'll wait for you) , it's just HERE.

It was written and posted on the 27th of July 2010.  Now if you're in your twenties, that was probably, like, before last Christmas which was ages ago.  If you're in your thirties (or if you have a home-gestated child) you can probably already appreciate how stuff that happened less than 9 months ago can seem like yesterday and forever ago at the same time.  I'm 41, and if you're much older than that you might still smile wryly and indulgently at how young that is too.

So yes, I am used to changing as a person now, I seem to be doing a lot of it.  Or am I?  Has it always been this way and only now that time seems to be speeding faster and faster do I actually notice a rate of change as we go along?  I'm not sure.  The Doppler effect is definitely more pronounced.

But I remember that feeling, being that guy who suddenly got that realisation, and if you'd have asked me earlier today about my feelings of relative acceptance of my illness and near-certainly soonish demise I'd have told you that I'd have come to that point "quite a long time ago now, really."

The Doppler effect - where waveforms like light and sound seem to compress as they rush at you but elongate as they fall behind, like the change in pitch of the ambulance siren as it powers on quickly into someone's destiny story.  Doppler seems to act in memory too. It makes me feel like the past is further and further away, and the future much trickier to predict than ever before:  Leaving me increasingly motivated to specialize in the now.

Do you suppose that's what they mean when they talk about the wisdom one gains in aging?  Is it simply that your ability to still be one with your ill-remembered past and naively-imagined future diminishes, leaving you standing all the more clearly reflected as yourself in the still mirror of the quiet moment?  Or was I also right back then, that it's often the agency of tipping points like the stress and compulsion to accept what's needed right now for survival (or die) regardless of how it might change you that root you more firmly in your middle place?

One other thing I've noticed though - although I ask a whole lot more questions, my need to find the answers is slowly fading into a vague sort of interestedness rather than a desperate path of want - of search for self-identity.  And that's a relief.

This is also a relief.


  1. Yes, that seems like wisdom--that sense of perspective. Though I don't find that earlier, important post to be narcissistic at all. Just human.

    I'm extremely immature in many ways, so I still obsess about the past and worry incessantly about the future. (See? There I go talking about myself. Me me me.) But I do read old journal entries (in the stash of old journals sitting in a suitcase) and shake my head and feel grateful that I'm no longer so insecure.

    Your point about not craving immediate answers seems huge. That must mean you are "okay" (and not desperate to fix everything) even if circumstances aren't 100% okay. Can you teach me how to be like that, please?

    Great post. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I think the term 'self reflection' comes to mind. I have no trouble with that; there;s self reflection that's interesting (like your blog) and there's self indulgence, or being 'up-yourself'. When I first acted in a professional play, a child in the audience who happened to be sitting close to my part of the stage said, "You're upyourself mate." I made some comment baout a parrot in the audience which got a laugh, but he was right.