March 01, 2006

A "cancelled" slash across a promotional poster.

So much of our lives we live sheerly on inertia, at the speed of life, moving always in the direction we are already moving based solely upon where we expect ourselves and especially others to be, what we expect others to do -- too quickly, too much mass-inertia to have the time and stability to be able to react in the face of the unexpected.

A bus I needed pulled away literally in front of me, its door almost in my face, its driver very much looking straight at me and now my transfer expired -- and so began a small sequence of events outside the standard inertia. For, as I was forced to seek out a necessary purchase on the trip between instead of at the beginning of my day, my path crossed with that of another, oblivious, crossing the street against the advanced green signal, forcing the left-turning car out of its own inertia to come to a complete stop -- and the left-turning car behind it, suddenly stranded in its own inertia, its driver making a quick split-second decision to swing around the stopped car and then forced into a screeching stop in his own right as he was brought suddenly to realise that, after all, there had been a reason (which, annoyingly enough, could not be trumped by simple impatience without facing criminal charges).

And all the while the pedestrian, now blocking the other lane as well, continued obliviously to cross the street ... only to wait at the opposite corner for the opposite light; and then at the bus stop at that corner for a bus that would not be coming yet for another quarter hour. I knew this, because I was hoping to be on it -- but first, I had to go out of my way to make that purchase, and hope I could manage it quickly enough so as not to miss this bus too.

We live our lives on inertia, the expectation that other people will keep on doing what we see them doing. Things happen all around us, creative and destructive and just sheer maintenance: and we vaguely expect them to keep on happening more or less the way they are. We attend a concert, a play, a new local awards ceremony, and already we are taking them for granted; and if a new enterprise happens to collapse and cease to be an annual event, we bite down a tiny twinge of disappointment and tell ourselves to lower our expectations and our hopes -- and then that becomes the bar for our new level of inertia.

Where is the person in all this? Our discussion group talked around a hole last Monday, and never once ceased skimming long enough to dare to look straight into it. I wanted to scream it from the rooftops, and they wanted -- not to think about it.

I still hold on to the e-mail he sent me, the day before he killed himself. It was a brief 24-hour wonder in the press: for to press eyes several of his projects had only just come into fruition, a brand-new dramatisation was about to open, and he must have seemed to be on top of the world. The letter was not much: I had requested to buy a copy of his latest documentary, only just released, because I thought it was that good! (and he, independent historian and documentarian, seemed surprised that there should be so much interest). As it happened, while I managed the documentary showing, I was not able to attend the play opening, or the award ceremony of that same weekend. A part of it was family obligations, which remain fairly time-consuming for me (especially during what would normally be considered the "social" times of day and week, for it is during those times that a different emptiness is felt most keenly). A part of it was money -- lack thereof. He did not, could not know (and I certainly was not about to tell him) that the cost of his documentary had come from my travel fund: I would be walking much of this month to balance it out, and living on raman. It is the one purpose I can see in wishing to win a lottery: that I would be able to buy tickets to local events and artwork by local artists at will, and not solely when will and funds and freedom of action happen to come together at the same time.

He was my age.

As was the local arts student killed by her father, a professor following a far more profitable discipline than hers and mine.

Where passion is already the driving force, why should a meritocracy supplement it with actual reasonable cost of living? But still we manage it for ourselves, somehow: make compromises with some ("less relevant") parts of life to be able to pursue the single, passionate need ... and in so doing, do we also challenge the inertial expectations others hold for us? Is it only really the child's safety, the child's security which is sought? Where the parents seek what success they derive in life through their children, perhaps especially where the parents themselves are a societal "success" (and only we ever see what happens behind the velvet curtains): are the children who are driven to different paths, less secure, less safe paths, be they artist or even simply prioritising parenthood, such a bitter disappointment?

When did the only valid function of children become to validate the choices of the parents?

Yesterday, an artist I had not known previously opened his exhibition at a local gallery. Underpriced though many of the works are, I cannot currently afford to pay money for them; and many who do have the money won't bother even to look. (Ironic: that where money is, substance is not.) We could swap, his work for my work, but that would put food into neither of our mouths. But maybe, just maybe, the cheque I have worked for these past few months will arrive before his exhibition closes, and I will be able to purchase the piece that stopped me -- non-visual though I am -- in my tracks ... but at least he now knows that another values what he has created: and if he is open to creative financing, I certainly am!

Comments:
Thank you for a most thought provoking post :)

I hope you don't mind me expanding on it.
 
If you find a springboard in there, by all means make use of it!
 
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