survived even the happiness – quietly, completely.
First the testings were mute, then verbal.
Who could look back unamazed?
No one has been able, since life lasts
because no one could. – But the infiniteness
of the attempts! The new greenness of birch trees
is not so new as that which befalls us.
A wood dove coos. And again what you suffered
seems, ah, as if yet unlived-though.
The bird keeps calling. You are in the middle
of the call. Awake and weakened.
- Rainier Maria Rilke, 1921
Sometimes I can't believe it - what I've experienced, and where I am now - and then I'm just so utterly grateful. I've learned that it’s okay to feel all the pain and weirdness and lazy-sloppy-messiness of being a person. That there are moments of joy too. Treatment and disease trick you into thinking that there is some sterile state in which you can exist, high above it all. You can not.
There is no finish line to being (or becoming) a person. It’s constant. There’s also no trophy, like Hyperbole and a Half jokes in a great scene: "That right there is my ability to be responsible. I won it when I was 25." I wish that the amount of work that goes into having/making a life got conveyed somehow, although I guess it's something everyone has to learn for themselves. That things don't magically fall into place like they do in the movies. You actually have to try and fail and laugh and dust yourself off and freak out a few times and then try again.
'Non finito' is a term used to describe sculptures left unfinished, whether by design or accident. They're sometimes made to look like works in progress, which I find funny because I'm all about presenting the polished surface. But you can only get closer to something (or someone) by seeing the process underneath.* Rilke's poem, with its repeating epiphany and newness of understanding, somehow fits for me with this idea of the incomplete - forever 'yet unlived-through,' constantly 'in the middle of the call.' Like academic study, like life, there's never just some day when you can lay it all down and say ok, I'm done now, I've finished everything. It's a great and daunting thing.
I'm being all reflective and whatnot because it's my birthday and that means I can do whatever I want, i.e., be utterly honest for a change. Or, in Kevin parlance, MIDDLE FINGER DANCE TIME.
Love to you all (who have shown me so much love today),
*Art history: providing life metaphors since 1768.