In my first post with the Who Are You title, I raised the possibility that we focus too much on the things and places that make us who we are, and spend far too little time reflecting on the actions (and more importantly, the interactions) that create the summation of our lives. Like most of my posts, it started out as a rant, and also like most of my posts, in the middle of writing, it took the shape of something entirely different than my intention.
A few years back, my friend Ken Jones conducted a seminar where he brought up the possibility that we are not defined by our jobs, our education, and our position. We live our lives unreflected. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
- I love Pistol River.
- Why? Because I feel a psychic (in the non-mystical sense) depth, and a family connection, to the land, sea, and River.
- Why? because my family has lived there over 125 years.
- Why? Because they felt the overcrowding in 1870s era Colorado.
I could to on, but you get the idea. With each answer, like an innocent three-year-old, I bring up yet another question begging for explanation. Biography and, daresay, history or fiction any number of other assertion-based writing styles, must build from facts. So Lee Owings, who brought this up in a recent comment, is right: to not say Pistol River in my “who am I” bit, we’re left with a steaming pile of effects without causes.
And each explanation necessarily has to be subjective. Nobody but I has grasped the reasons I love Pistol River. When I tell my story then, to make it even marginally interesting, I must give my reasons; to make it comprehensible, I must state the facts (which in turn become the new facts, which require new explanation, and so on, as the mind galavants off into Subjectiveland). I guess what I’m saying is, like Lucy Ricardo, I have some “gesplaining” to do. Moreover, when telling a story, we often make forceful love to the facts without the tender cuddling of subjectivity and meaning (Oh. And don’t worry: it’s the last time I’m entertaining that particular metaphor).
And Lee Owings was correct twice in one day (his wife’s eyes are probably starting to get misty just thinking about it)… I didn’t give much in the way of an explanation about my family’s move to Virginia. I hope to write a “how I got to the Atlantic” post in the next day, and in so doing, put the theory behind these recent pieces into practice.
“When I went into the kitchen and heard coffee sizzling I knew it would be a good morning.”–Alex.