I’m sitting at my computer, the cursor blinking. Unforgiving. How am I to write about the conservative influences on France’s Third Republic or “l’Affaire Dreyfus” when all I can think about is what a coward I’ve become? Cowardly in that the very thing that has afforded me stability and a creative outlet my whole life is now falling short of expectation: my words. My speech. My voice. And I’m not talking about my appalling inability to not so much as flounder around an essay topic in French (although that is particularly apropos this evening as well). My disappointment springs from my inability to talk to Him.
Who is Him, you ask? Well, take your pick.
Life (the one in the black t-shirt with a predilection for winding roads and evenings of stargazing)? God? My father? My brothers? My blue-eyed best friend of yesteryear? That Canadian waiter in Edinburgh? The dozen or so men in my dance class who have to deal with my blundering, maladroit version of the Viennese waltz?
Dance isn’t such a bad analogy for this. Part of my problem in the face of constantly being told to “Relax!” is that… well, it seems nigh impossible. I have a hard time trusting that those sweaty-handed men can really get me anywhere without a fatal crash into the wall or, worse yet, an innocent passerby. Often, I am being swirled and spun into a dizzy frenzy, flying backwards and all the while never knowing when I’ll feel secure again. I want to love that feeling. I crave to love it. Yet, even after every vow to myself that today will be different, today I will relax, today I will trust… today becomes another fractured dream. My dancing will always be gauche as long as I refuse to surrender that little part of me to another person, or to my own embodiment even. And probably so will my life.
I don’t mean for this to be a postmodern lament on how my marginalized voice leads to a fractured identity, resulting in my disembodiment and consequent loss of phenomenological experience. (You can thank my literary theory courses for such lofty explanations.) Alls I really need is a good, hearty dose of courage. And maybe some chocolate milk. We Americans have this awful habit of saying “Good luck,” as though we move through our lives helplessly at the mercy of this Luck, who occasionally smiles down on the fortunate. Luck is kind of a fair-weather friend, though. I’ve found that the equivalent French phrase is much more awesome, as the French are wont to be: “Bon courage.” It’s not about happenstance anymore, it’s about having courage to face what lies before you and to tackle those things head-on.
I probably shouldn’t tackle anyone from my dance class head-on. But I should probably pretend to be graceful until the blessed day that I actually am.
Perhaps all of this is why, as I was contemplating what to post about, the first thing that came to mind was a butterfly-shaped leaf I found on campus. That is a much simpler topic.
The moments of happiness—not the sense of well-being,
Fruition, fulfillment, security or affection,
Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination—
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness
Writing means never missing the meaning. Living means never missing the experience. I kind of need both. As always, salvation lies in the balance.