Archive for August, 2009

A chair and a novel

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Today I bought myself a chair. It has a name: Non. It’s made of rubber and steel. It looks light, but it is very heavy. I suppose that what we all aspire to.

I am hoping my chair will help me get on with the writing of my third novel. I thought the second would be the hardest, but I am no longer sure.

Here is a short excerpt from what I am calling ‘The kindness of your nature’:

Lately I have been overcome by a sense of urgency. As if there is something I need to do. Not in a material sense. Just a need to put my life in order. Even though it will only be for me, it feels acutely urgent. Why, I don’t quite understand. My life is at it has been for years now, and I don’t expect any dramatic changes to come. Nothing has happened to bring about this shift. This sense of urgency.
But something has changed. I have changed. Perhaps it’s just aging, a growing awareness of the limit of my time. And in the same way it feels impossible to resist. As if I am facing an inevitable process that I cannot escape. Not that I feel a need to. In fact, I am embracing it with something that feels close to anticipation.
The mental space where I exist now is different from all the others that I have inhabited. Perhaps this urge has something to do with that. There is a change in my perception and though this is the result of a long process, it is only lately that I have come to realise that there is a view from here, while all the places where I have lived before have offered no perspective, no view. Not from the inside looking out, nor from the outside looking in. In that sense I should feel exposed now, I suppose. Strangely, I don’t. Instead, I am filled with this inexplicable anticipation. As if the opening of doors will be helpful. Perhaps I am hoping that it will help me to put my life in some kind of chronological order. I don’t know why it now feels so important to open the doors to the spaces where why memories are kept, while before the ability to close them, one after other, seemed essential to survival.
It might very well prove to be a futile exercise. I am not sure there is order in anybody’s life. Life is irrational and illogical. And we have to accept that, try and arrange our lives around it.
But there is a timeline to our lives. One event leads to another one. One act leads to a result, which becomes the basis for our next action. That is how we make some semblance of order: we put the events that make up our lives along a timeline. And that way we think that we can also see some kind of causality. I am not sure that it is true, but I can understand that it is helpful. And now I want it for me.
There are so many story lines, though. So many characters acting independently in the spectacle that is my life. And they all influence each other in ways that are impossible to fully control or even grasp. There is no absolute certainty about anything. I once believed that science offered certainty. That there were scientific rules that were irrevocable. I think this might have been the reason for my love of science at school. And the reason why I chose to study medicine. I believed that science would offer a world with absolute truths. But the deeper I delved, the less absolute it appeared. There were inconstancies there, too. New research made previous truths obsolete. And always, beyond every answer and every explanation, there was another, yet unanswered question. It was like plotting your way through gradually familiar territories, but with a constant awareness of another, unknown, or unknowable reality beyond the known. Every answer was followed by a question mark. Every step took me further into the unknown. And the unknowable grew, while what I knew seemed to shrink in quantity as well as value.
I have lived here almost ten years now. It is a lonely existence, mostly. I don’t mind, but isolation aggravates uncertainty, I think. Life takes on a surreal quality. Lately, I have found myself wishing for a way of corroborating an event, a memory. I have been overwhelmed by a longing to have some confirmation that my memories are still intact.
I like to think that I take good care of my important memories. I’m careful not to wear them down or alter them in any way. I try to keep them safe. But again, they are not kept in order. I know where each one is and what it contains, but it exists in a kind of vacuum, and with no connection to the others. I have no explanation as to why this is how I experience it. But I think that if I were able to take them out, one by one and place them in the right sequence, then perhaps they would be easier to carry. The painful ones might become more acceptable if I could see each one as belonging to what came before and after. I guess I am hoping for some understanding. Just for me. And forgiveness, perhaps. Not from others, but my own forgiveness, so that somehow perhaps I will finally be able to regard myself with a measure of compassion. Not love, I don’t expect that. Not pity, I don’t want that. But empathy, perhaps. For the little girl that was me. For the young woman I became. And for the middle aged person I am now.
What I am hoping for is for the memories to merge, to become an understandable whole. And ultimately make me whole.