All right then. Pull yourself together. Is this where I'm spending my life, in the "reptile brain," this lamp at the top of the spine like a lighthouse flipping mad beams indiscriminately into the darkness, into the furred thoraxes of moths, onto the backs of leaping fishes and the wrecks of schooners? Come up a level; surface.
Dillard is giving herself a little pep talk, trying to talk herself back from her "reptile brain." There's something crazed, wild in her current state. She's dwelling with insect and fish, diving into the wreck, as Adrienne Rich would say. She wants to pull away, kick her way to air, to sky. To the stars.
I've been feeling a little existential these last couple days. Questioning the meaning of my life. Like Dillard, it's not a state in which I want to remain very long. I would prefer to surface right now, but I can't. Instead, I'm dwelling on the choices I've made. Over and over.
I wake up in the morning and think, "What the hell am I doing?" I didn't dream of being a clinic office clerk when I was a kid. When I'm sitting at my desk for eight hours, registering patients and answering phones, I sometimes want to get up, walk away, find a quiet corner, and read a book or write a poem. And when I'm in a classroom teaching, I feel like I'm . . . home (sorry if that sounds corny, but that's the only way I can say it).
Of course, I know I've made mistakes. Every day, I make mistakes. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to be working for a little while at my new job, registering patients for about an hour. I have no clue what I'm doing. I'm going to need help. A lot of help. And I'm going to make mistakes. A lot of them. (I'm not entirely sure that this new job is the right choice for me. It may be another mistake.)
Being human means being flawed. I'm a jigsaw puzzle of failures. So is everybody else. One of the hardest things as a parent is seeing your kids make bad choices and not being able to do a thing to stop them. Yet, I've learned more from my mistakes than my successes. That's the irony. My mistakes have made me a better person.
So, here I sit on my couch at home, in the dark, feeling existential while watching Antiques Roadshow. I don't know what the meaning of my life is. I am a husband. A father. Teacher, writer, blogger. And I have failed (sometimes miserably) in each of those roles at one point or another.
Marty is probably failing at being a saint, as well. He hasn't performed any miracles in a really long time.