Monday, December 04, 2006

reverse curse

Dear Mike,

Hello dear, sorry it's been such a lag since your last letter. Life has this way of zipping past me sometimes without my noticing days, weeks, years. Anyway here we are. It's Monday again and my favorite kind of day outside: brilliantly clear sky with a biting atmosphere. I wonder how long we'll have with days like this . . . seems like everywhere the air is growing increasingly warm.

Gen X has two curses: the I-Don't-Know-What-To-Do curse and its reverse: Overstimulation, overaction, unending overwhelm. From the moment I wake up, until the moment I fall asleep I am working on one project or another: music, painting, my motorcycle, community, my relationship, my living space, my body, my mind, yerm ahm, my ever-evolving job. I don't understand how people have time to watch television - I remember it (the tv) being on for hours and hours into the late night at my house when I was in middle school and high school. I wouldn't have time for ten minutes of it as my life is now. But I think in this case the curse is its reverse and its reverse is its curse. Follow?

In general, what I'm trying to say, without having said it yet at all if you'll forgive me, is that this "what am I going to do?" crap is . . . crap. We're already always doing something. It's more a matter of are we pleased with what we're doing? Or are we going to do something else instead? This is what you're saying I think: overstimulation of opportunities leads to a peculiar sort of paralysis.

And yet, I suspect that many of us who struggle with What To Be When We Grow Up, are already living or have already lived five or six lives when measured by output (maybe not so much by wisdom) . . .

Mike, you've produced three albums and you're still a shadow under thirty. Among my similarly-aged close friends I can count: probably two dozen published books/stories/poems, 2-3 dozen full length albums, national tours, 3 lawyers, 2 almost-PsyD's, 2 almost-PhD's, maybe a half dozen Master's degrees, an internationally recognized radio documentary, 2 full length films, a Turkmen Language Learning Guide, symphonies, plays, and the list goes on . . . .

I think it's a misnomer to say we're going to be someTHING when we grow up. We are many things - constantly reshaping, shifting. We're polymaths in training - learning a hundred trades at once. So I'd suggest that if you get to the end of your day and "don't know what to do" then do nothing. Maybe your Nothing Doing is really an exploration of the negative space around your 9-5.

I'm hedging my bets on living a long life (mostly because I wouldn't mind living a short one, and I suspect that fate has a cruel sense of irony.) Based on the thousands of things that I like to do, by the time I am 90 I anticipate being a: peaceful, master motorcycle repairwoman and mother with impeccable rhythm, absolute pitch and a fair endowment to leave for a most unlikely cause - i.e. a statue garden honoring underrated/unknown legends such as Victoria Williams and Naeem Inayatullah. In the meantime I don't know much about much, but I'm very very busy. And sometimes even happy thanks to this.

As parting words, I want you to read this poem: it is a translation of an Urdu poem from 1750 . . . my dear friend Sonal Bhatia (a brilliant poet) translated it between classes at law school, where she is also starting her own non-profit organization to protect the rights of domestic violence survivors.

Untitled (or maybe "Maya")
Desire is such a human disaster
that it breaks the fast
by destroying the existence of hunger--
I am such a human; my soul drowned
like the ant dropped in a well
in this tsunami of desire
for you;
save me, Beloved, from my indignity,
cover my eyes in a veil
of tears.
--Sonal Bhatia

Much love, and don't worry we'll talk more about God. maybe with a jug of wine and a phone call . . . and some blank paper taped to the walls.



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