Dita Parker

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If opportunity calls...the answer is 42.

I went through some shots taken on our last family vacation, yet another attempt to familiarize my children with the world and the places their mother knew when she was younger and still loves. I thought about how your childhood home gets etched into you; the good, the bad, the ugly, happy and sad. Odes to joy, monuments carved in happiness, unmarked graves in your heart. Some try to escape it, some escape into it, but it always remains a frame of reference, even when the neighborhood changes, and the neighbors.

It's not Eats meets West for me, it's North vs. South. It was in my childhood, it still is today. That makes for dichotomies aplenty. It keeps life interesting and leaves no space for tunnel vision. It makes me wonder how the other half lives, or third, or tenth. In the face of 'facts' or 'truth', it forces me to ask what if the opposite was true.

I'm good at making a stand; I'm terrible at taking sides. Sounds contradictory? No, it's not you, it's me. I'll watch a game and root for whichever team is losing and drive my husband nuts. Diplomacy is an admirable or an abominable trait, depending on who gets vetoed. I once asked the writer in me whether she had any use for a negotiator. Appalled by my sudden uncertainty and my suspecting that anything in this world and our psyches would not be worth studying and writing about, she deigned to concede that yes, maybe I was onto something.

As fate, the universe and/or the economy would have it, I suddenly had more time to read and write. (It's back to business now and I'm not sure whether I'm glad or sad. Both.) Serendipity granted me two pieces that made me go hmmm. Nadine Gordimer talking about a double process where detachment and disinvolvement mingle with empathy and sympathy for others, a process which manifests itself as heightened powers of observation. Keats praising 'negative capability', the ability of being in doubt and ambiguity without reaching after absolutes.

Eureka! Yes! Thank and praise those two passages for helping explain the compulsion to know the different sides to every story and still not go crazy when you're not granted straight and comprehensive answers to Ultimate Questions like Life, the Universe and Everything.

(I talked about this with a former colleague of mine. Her husband is into astrology and I suspect that secretly so is she because she listened politely, smiled compassionately then said "But you see, you're a Leo and a Leo rising with the Moon in Aquarius." Right... Back then, I did not dare ask, so those in the know: translation, please! Someone supposedly in the know said it's the third culture kid effect. And just so you know, labels make me ill at ease even if there's a modicum of truth in them.)

That compulsion is inherent, a part of my make up, my constant companion in life and writing. I guess you could do worse as far as aptitudes go. And Bob's your uncle, the writers among you say. Everyone and their brother mother sister lover can and should be able to go the Keats-Gordimer way if they want to write. If they want to be fit for human consumption, get a job and find a partner and keep them. Maybe so, but if it's the only way to fly, do we acknowledge it, work on it, work for it? What about our other traits and talents?

You have to value your strengths, honor and cultivate them, or take on whatever role is handed to you and read from the script. You have to use what you have going for you to the best of our ability, take it as far as you can. Of course you would first have to recognize what that something is, unveil and study it and decide how it will serve you and, with any luck, effort and inspiration, others. If you're not hurting anyone, run with it. It's yours, all yours. If opportunity sees you're busy with other things, it won't present itself. It will go out in search of someone not only waiting but prepared to be introduced.

And I'm starting to sound like morning after copy for some running shoe company. I'm all over the place with my thoughts this week, and with so much happening they're all over me. So let me wrap up by quoting and paraphrasing Miss Stefani's Deep Thought: Since life is short and you're capable, what you waiting for?

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