Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Yearning Weight Of Achieving

Compressed, but not crushed, I bear it.

Looking up from my trudging steps, I warily peer about
seeking a path.

I am in the dried ridges of a tractor's track,
compounded by many traversals.
Ahead, the paths diverge in the caked mud;
to the left, to the right, straight ahead.
All lead to more fields, more grass, more brush,
and I cannot see beyond the hill they lead over.

But I am not weary, I am hunted. Life chases me,
and decisions elude me.
I make foolish mistakes, and am humbled daily
by my own failures to live up to anything at all.

Sometimes, I am reduced to a crawl, to dragging forward
my tiredness.

What lies over the hill, past the ridge?
Is the landscape there as empty as this one,
the earth as bare?

Why am I so hunted by opportunity,
so lost amongst the available options?
And why so terrified of the choices I can make,
the decisions that make themselves
in indecision.

A generalist, I could do anything,
when ability was my only guide.
Now, chance has dealt me some distance
in a few directions.
I am walking several paths, pulled one way by day
and another in the shades of dusk and dawn.

Still the creative push inside me demands more
but is that merely the remnant of a constructed identity
based on what seemed to make me different?
Am I not merely the upside of my disability?

Most people are happy, it seems, not to change the world.
Somehow they can live with affecting only themselves,
their family.
But that sounds like arrogance on my part,
that merely being locally worthy is beneath me.

But it is not driven by elitism but by hope,
that against the futility I can improve the world.
Still that goal is worthless if nothing comes of it. Less than
that in fact, it is harmful if the demand paralyses me
and slows my progress in any direction.

So, a hierarchy, then. First I will provide for my family,
but in this time, in this society, that is straightforward.
Second, then, to use whatever I have, whatever I am
to assist those who do not benefit from my opportunities.

This feels like fear and like guilt. Who am I,
that I should be educated and supported and loved
having done nothing?
And why should others be downtrodden and thwarted
having done everything?

I benefit from the actions of the good - but is it the actions
of the many, or of few? Is the bulk of our progress
down an aggregation of many small goods, or of standing
on the shoulders of giants?
I am no giant,
and nor do I really believe a giant is of his own making.
I am one,
but I am possessed of some theories.

If I am right, I am poised to do much good.
If I am wrong, I can only make myself a fool,
another little man with little ideas
that nevertheless grip his little mind
with their dull charm.

Beneath the roaring skies of all these philosophies
tugged by many winds
pressed by the weight of expectation
(or so I feel it)
sometimes giving up life itself attracts.

Yet it is always followed by the simple thought of humility:
I am able, so I must be able to do some small good.


I am shortsighted, and I imagine simple things.
At time, I can screen out distracting detail
and see a truth beyond it.
Othertimes, I can screen out important detail
and see a folly of my own construction.
Convinced by a weasel in the clouds.

Hunted, stressed and fearful,
not useful things to be.
I also feel somehow stupid for feeling them,
get real, princess with a pea.

Confession, then, before absolution.
I start things but do not finish them;
journeying from fever to distraction,
from single-mindedness to
a kind of depressed defeat
at the smallest tangle.

This in particular perplexes me,
why I am so easily defeated by the difficult
by the confusing. Am I so wed to simplicity?
I read that it is fear, but that seems far off -
what could I be afeared of?
Of failure?
Of the unknown?

It feels more like boredom, but it has the ring of helplessness.
A futility with a kind of sadness; clearly I expect to be competent
and find myself wanting. I am no magician,
no sage.
Am I afraid to discover I am not even that clever?

Others are so methodical; they see through the maze,
through the morass. They seem fearless, confident
that the answer can be found,
that the answer can be found soon,
that they will not be swallowed by the task,
left struggling in the belly of the beast.

I suspect this is why I enjoy creativity;
it rewards whatever you do, and often the urge
is enough to produce.
In that sense it is easy, or at least easy for me.
It does not have a pass or fail,
judgement is not passed in the act even if it is later.

To create anew is to conquer the blank,
to defeat the nothingness.
True, that is sometimes a worthy opponent,
but it is nowhere near as hard as
the unyeilding mass of thorns,
the forest of tentacles.
At least to me.

Perhaps this is a skill I can learn,
a role I can become,
an identity I may grow to fulfill,
something not an accident of birth,
but an achievement, a triumph.

I may not get there,
but I will try,
and I will begin,

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