Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Anchors, Futures, & Everything in Between.

Solomon: (Rising.) You see, it’s also, this particular furniture—the average person he’ll take one look, it’ll make him very nervous.
VICTOR: Why’ll it make him nervous?

Because he knows it’s never gonna break.

VICTOR: (Not in bad humor, but clinging to his senses. Sitting on hassock.) Oh, come on, will you? –have a little mercy.

SOLOMON: My boy, you don’t know the psychology! –If it wouldn’t break there is no more possibilities. For instance, you take –(Cross L. to table)—this table… Listen! (He bangs the table.) You can’t move it. A man sits down to such a table he knows not only is he married, he’s got to stay married—there are no more possibilities. (Victor laughs. Soloman crosses R. to L. of Victor) You’re laughing, I’m telling you it’s a factual situation. What is the key word today? –Disposable. The more you can throw it away, the more it’s beautiful. The car, the furniture, the wife, the children—everything has to be disposable. Because you see the main thing today is—shopping. Years ago, a person, he was unhappy, didn’t know what to do with himself—he go to church, start a revolution—something. Today you’re unhappy? Can’t figure it out? –what is the salvation?—go shopping.

-Arthur Miller’s The Price (1968)

David and I have a friend who is always interviewing, believing “there is always something better out there”.  This is true. There is always something better out there. But, our philosophies tend to bleed through all areas of our lives. Right in front of him is a girl who would stand by his side for the rest of his life, faithfully, fiercely, beautifully, and he just. won’t. pull. the trigger. Marriage is permanent.  Marriage means no more interviewing.

I understand this. I’m still growing up. I imagine I will be for the rest of my life. However, we are an era of people increasingly stopping in the breezeway between something fleeting (childhood), and something permanent (obligation), making our home in a temporary structure. As someone who finds this transience appealing, I can advocate the benefits of the breezeway: it cultivates resiliency, flexibility, freedom, and a stoicism that comes from ‘weathering unexpected storms’. It feels laid back, open-ended, smacking of the bohemia of youthfulness. Most of the stuff there is easy to ruin. Easy to leave behind. In this space, you feel as though you are growing because you encounter new things. We get used to the disposability.  Life is right there. You can touch it in all its visceral glory. We can suck it all in, and leave it in the next breath. We can 'shop' for what we 'really want' with no end. And we do. Endlessly.

Inside the house seems stifling. Boring. Removed. It means feeling 'stuck' sometimes.
Locked in. It means getting angry at circumstances and people that won't change to your will, and that you can't escape. It might mean dealing with inconvenient things pretty constantly. You have to clean up the messes you make. Sometimes you're cleaning up messes other people made.  It also means finding strength outside of yourself, learning to trust, learning to die to self, and to love selflessly. It means building something, and sticking around to watch what you've built grow legs and stand. It might mean being disappointed in your building skills when the wheels fall off. You learn to do it better.

So many of us disengage from permanent decisions, favoring the breezeway to the house. We put off crossing the threshold into meaningful responsibility.

In this, we lose the saliency tied to making ourselves adjust to uncomfortable things. We do not have our rough edges ground off, our selfishness spilled out, and we can avoid looking at the ugly parts of ourselves. There comes a depth and maturity from doing the things that don’t necessarily enflame us with passion, or even that we find a scrap of enjoyment in, but instead, do out of diligence, honor, and obedience. These things grow a profundity and constancy that anchors us. These are the lessons that can only be learned inside. We fool ourselves if we think we can continue to grow without assuming more responsibility. We might learn new things, but we will not be stretched in the same way.

Living in the house means sometimes facing the things that do, truly, scare us.

I’m scared of driving. When I was 16, I was distractible, unfocused, and reckless. I crashed a lot. I mean really, I was terrible. In Chicago, I ride my bike and the train whenever possible to avoid being in the driver’s seat.  I could kill someone. I could be killed. I could smash our car.  This responsibility is easier to avoid. Still, I must engage. Driving is not impossible.

Regine of Arcade Fire wrote In the Backseat after her mother died in a car accident. She reportedly hates driving, for more relevant reasons than I. Here are a few stanzas from that song:

I like the peace
In the backseat
I don't have to drive
I don't have to speak
I can watch the countryside
and I can fall asleep.

Alice died
In the night
I've been learning to drive
My whole life
I've been learning how


It's time, guys.

We've been learning to drive our whole lives.

With love,
-KM kristen mrdjanov

The song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsmEMk2QOnM

<Last 'clever' post: Fall, Football, & Some Thoughts on Being Perfect
>Next 'clever' post: And That's Life


  1. Uh. I

    How convicting and poignant your thoughts are, K.
    Again, I am amazed at your ability to articulate these complexities (to me) of growing up - what it means to mature.

    This was like a big hug.

    Thank you for spurring us on.

    I've said before, and I'll say it again. If you wrote a book, I'd buy not only because you're my friend, but because your writing feels complete, and it's just rich with wisdom I crave.

    (Love that photo of you... it's so whimsical and appropriate for this post. Committing.) <3

    1. Aw, Rach. You know how glad I am you are in my life! I am challenged by you, your optimism, and your desire to engage every day. Thanks for spurring ME on!

  2. An absence of options is commonly seen as the ultimate tragedy, when in reality it is often the thing that brings out the very best in real men and women. It is commitment to responsibilities beyond our own whims that molds us into something greater than the sum of our own selves alone. Existing in a permanent buffet line of life-choices means never learning to appreciate nuance and acquired tastes. Learning the subtle differences between home-fries and tater tots deludes us into believing we have acquired a cultured palate.

    Life is meant to be lived, not sampled.

    1. I like french fries, merci beaucoup.

      I follow you, and also realize that the pendulum could swing just as hard the other way. I know we've had conversations on both ends of the spectrum: honor does not (or rarely) means just keeping your head down and ignoring blatant problems, but often we interpret 'pushing through' this way. For some, 'lack of options' means only eating the garbage that's on the table, when someone really needs to talk to the cook.

      If we can learn to hold contentment in one hand, and William Wallace in the other, I think...well...that would be good.

  3. I just said, "Wow" out loud at work. I just so appreciate this conversation!

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Yes! Thanks for the love!

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