Thursday, June 14, 2007

a new name for this silly thing.

my gram was a difficult woman by the time i knew her-- critical, and often disappointed. she was the daughter of a similarly difficult woman, and the mother of two difficult women (my paternal aunts)-- although differently difficult-- not a hard protestant kind of difficult, but (and it could be equally cruel, really) given to whims and addictions. one died of a whim, the other is irrevocably fried by addiction. so, you know, i understand her disappointment. but she knew some things about art and she knew some things about about music, and she knew some things about discipline and how we learn things, and some of it she imparted to me. she told me: you can only learn things, even history book facts, by using all of your senses. she told me: you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want-- and this was late in the game, when no one can say that she didn't know the full of weight of what it is we don't get in the pursuit of what we do. she got some things she passionately wanted at a hard heavy price.

you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want: it reads like a lot of white protestant middle-america bullshit about what you can attain if only you work hard enough, sacrifice enough. it's not true that we can have anything we want-- there are those somethings that we can't have no matter what we're willing to pay for them-- requital where there's unrequital, for someone dead not to be dead, for something that happened not to have happened-- all hard things lodged immovably in time or in the unchangeable fact of someone else. and there are other structures in the world-- structures of power & privilege -- that can prevent the most disciplined and earnest among us from achieving even their clearest and first aims (let alone the rest of us-- undisciplined and vague on just what it is we're after).

but it's still the most solid piece of advice i've gotten yet. not because i can have anything i want, but because anything i can get (and it sometimes turns out to be more than i think) turns out to necessitate my not getting other things that i also want, and my life goes better when i'm looking that fact happily in the face. it's not a grim diagnoses-- everything might as well be nothing, and if i'm going to be something (and i aspire to be) it'll have to be to the exclusion of other somethings, which is how we can all be up to something different, and all good. i love this.

so 'we'll see' was what i wrote for a title when i started this blog business, meaning 'we'll see if i even use this, or how i will', but it's time for an official acknowledgment that i DO use it (and how), and a new title is it. and you now have a semi-account of it's origins and significance.