Friday, November 13, 2009

'I am a patient boy. I wait I wait I wait...'

Last night my older daughter refused to go to bed because we couldn't find a Calvin & Hobbes anthology I'd mentioned to her. We looked around thoroughly, then let it go. Except she didn't. She kept poking in bookshelves, under woodpiles, behind the clown shed. In part she was dawdling; she was also being doggedly persistent. I laughed and pointed her toward bed, finally. Hard to scold her for my own behavior replicated in the flesh.

I've for years claimed my mantra was Patience & Persistence. Well, claimed to myself; no one else really cares. But that's how I thought of myself--as patient & persistent in conjunction. Someone recently complimented my patience while training Shrike, a crackhead on uppers if there ever was one. She added, and patient isn't something I'd ordinarily ascribe to you. I gasped. 'What? Me? Not-patient!? Are you high?' Then I pondered it.
I'm about as non-patient as they come.
I am a persistent son-of-a-bitch, however.
My persistence can appear patient only in that I will doggedly pursue whatever it is I'm focused on--I will. I will. I will. Tenaciously persistent. Which, for my adult life, I've misinterpreted as patient. I assumed the two were interconnected, when, really, I was impatiently, inexorably pursuing whatever my obsession was. Hah! Maybe the new motto should be 'persistent & persistenter...'
Speaking of sitting in the waiting room:

I started to write about the Balkanization of our culture, but I've got fish to fry. Meandering and prolix as my thoughts tend to be, I find myself constantly amazed at our tendency--and moreso the root of our tendency or need--to dualize people and things. Politically, one is either 'with me or against me,' to quote our recently deposed idiot savage. Knee-jerk shorthand makes for blurry abstraction and no one actually knows anything. It's like a lit theory class gone wrong.

But it's in the personal that I'm surprised. How many serial killers, when discovered, are described by their neighbors of being 'just a good guy, quiet, kept to himself, really spent a lot of time on his yard.' As if liking horticulture and sociopathology are mutually exclusive. I tried to pass a referendum that we were no longer permitted to be surprised by the private deeds of our relatively unknown neighbors. (Actually, it's the other side of our conditioned racism/xenophobia: we grant far more credibility to bland white folks because they resemble us, while exposing non-whites to excessive scrutiny for not-being white like us.) Sadly, too man people got defensive and refused to vote for my referendum, thus we still see the dope on the news saying, 'Gee, he always seemed really friendly, and we all loved his holiday lights.'

Extrapolated from murder, why are we surprised that people--men especially--compartmentalize? Dollar Bill Clinton was a great leader AND a sophomoric skirt chaser. Many people in power have bad boundaries. Doesn't mean their public works are devoid of value. If my children's teachers are into S/M, that doesn't mean they're bad teachers. If they're into child porn, they should end up at the bottom of a dumpster. There IS a difference.

We seem to require such simplicity of character--which goes against everything in our own actual life experience. I can be a good father and WC Fields-esque about children and small dogs in general. Our increasing inability, allergy, to complexity leads to more hypocrisy and stupider public discussion.

more anon

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