What if God has the same affectionate disregard for us that we have for barnacles? I don't know if each barnacle larva is of itself unique and special, or if we the people are essentially as interchangeable as bricks. My brain is full of numbers; they swell and would split my skull like a shell. I examine the trapezoids of skin covering the back of my hands like blown dust motes moistened to clay. I have hatched, too, with millions of my kind, into a milky way that spreads from an unknown shore.
For some reason, this little passage spoke to me tonight. Dillard's talking about individuality or conformity, of fitting out or fitting in. Of course, everyone likes to think that s/he is unique. We have certain genetic proof of uniqueness--fingerprints, for example. Ears. DNA. In the United States right now, we also have proof of genetic superiority (supporters of Hillary and Bernie) versus genetic inferiority (fans of 2 Broke Girls).
I have never really been a fit-inner. I tend to draw attention to myself. It could be my voice; I'm pretty loud. It could be my personality; I'm pretty opinionated. Or the fact that I'm a poet/professor/blogger/musician/actor/director. Take your pick. I live in a place where all males are supposed to participate in certain activities. Deer hunting. Fishing. Drinking beer. Driving pickup trucks. I do none of these things.
Perhaps if I was more of a conformist, I would be more financially secure. Instead of focusing my energies on teacher-ing and poet-ing and musician-ing, I could have been climbing some corporate ladder. As the song goes in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, I could have played it the company way. (The fact that I know that lyric only solidifies my outsider status.)
That's just not me, though. I don't bow to peer pressure very easily. If someone tells me that I have to read a book, I simply won't. (It took me over two years to read the first Harry Potter book, even though I worked at a bookstore at the time.) Two years ago, I had the opportunity to apply for a supervisor position that I probably would have gotten. I didn't apply. It would have been impossible for me to supervise and continue to teach and write. I chose happiness over security.
Perhaps I'm stupid. I spend a good portion of my days worrying about finances. A job that pays $17 or $18 an hour would solve a lot of my problems. It would fix the hole in my kitchen ceiling. It would help me finish my attic so my daughter could have her own room to be a teenager in. And it would allow me to become insensitive to the needs of the working poor and immigrants and women.
By that definition, Saint Marty would be voting for a former reality TV star to be the next President of the United States this November.