Monday, December 24, 2007

Getting Out of Ourselves at Christmas

It seems selfish to write about myself on Christmas Eve, but as we all know, the self is inescapable. For instance, ask yourself: When another opens your gift, do you hope it brings them joy, or are you more focused on whether they will like it or not, whether you made a good selection? Naturally these things are not mutually exclusive... and what about the guilt you may feel when someone spends more on you than you did on them? As a cook you may wonder if the gravy is too thin. As a woman you may compare festive outfits and decide yours was too bland. All this is normal, and expected, and part of our psychology. Some may blame our preoccupation with the self on some theoretical fall; I think we have too much time for our heads. For most of history men have worked like dogs. With increased leisure comes increased introspection, and many may not like what they find. Then others, the positive and irrepressible, use their leisure time for active pleasures--fishing boats and golf clubs and the like. I'm often in a quandary when asked about a Christmas list; most of my wishes are non-material. Here's my list:

1) Complete remission from depression.

I recognize my list is selfish, I just hope it's not too long.

I wish for all those I've met here good health in the New Year. Without health, everything else becomes hard to enjoy. So often we take good health for granted. In fact, we tend to take everything for granted. Too many blessings become entitlements in our minds. We only notice what changes, though many of us want everything to stay the same. We fear change, because each gain becomes a new potential loss. The answer is to try to stay in the moment and keep going and do what good you can.

I have organizing and cleaning to do today. I'm prevented from serious writing because I don't have my computer; the keyboard on Kathleen's, which she has let me borrow, just won't conform to my fingers properly. Besides, I'm at a bit of an impasse: I want to work on promoting my work instead of creating more. Yet all these books of advice on publishing contain one contradiction: 1) You must believe in your book, put your whole heart into it. 2) You must direct your book towards a specific target market. Doesn't two have to influence one? But if one is your dream, two may become your nightmare. And after publication is finally achieved, promotion must go on until you're thoroughly sick of your work. As one writer put it: "I feel like an employee of my former self."

My mind is rather blank today. I chose a poem from my archives for what reason I don't know, below, previously published in Ygdrasil and Tintern Abbey. Let's hope our selves can get out of ourselves this season.

To My Manic Self

I see you in the sky,
a runaway balloon
bent on another try
to penetrate the moon.

Your flight inflates my mind
like I was born to rule,
so I rise above mankind
(mortal and immortal fool)

to trail your Cheshire grin
into the stratosphere
where I am born again
as Jesus or King Lear.

The problem is collapse.
You always do deflate
and leave me holding maps
to places I was great.

So am I the puppeteer?
I thought it was always you!
You with your confident leer,
jeweled cane and retinue,

You, ready to hog the stage
and bask in cheap applause
to camouflage your rage
against the cosmic laws.

But when the show is over
it’s me that they arrest
while you go undercover
inside my empty chest.

So which one holds the strings?
I don’t know who I am--
but I wouldn’t have crowned me king
if they were in my hand.

2 Kilorats and a Merry Christmas!

C.E. Chaffin

1 comment:

  1. wow...this is some post! i can feel and relate to your poem. well...look at it this way...few people can experience life this way perched upon mountain tops and laying in dusty valleys. it is what it is.

    happy holidays to you my friend. keep writing. i am listening.


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