pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: The view from the inside

04 June 2013

The view from the inside


La Cañada, California
22 September 2012

Yes, it's a pretty sunset, and for the life of me, I can't remember why we were up in La Cañada on a Saturday night in September. Not that we don't have cause to visit with some frequency; family lives up there, and we used to live up there, in the hills, just off Angeles Crest highway.

And I wonder why I dream of driving treacherous roads.

But there it was, September, and here we are at June. By late September, the son had just gotten through his first month of university, and now he is a sophomore. The daughter's school year is finally winding down. One more awards dinner, then finals, and then she is grade 11.

March over months of the year.

This afternoon, waiting for the daughter to arrive at the car, a wave of terrible sadness washed over me. It seemed unreasonable, this sadness, but it was as palpable as it was inexplicable. Lately, I've been troubled by uneasy dreams and during my waking hours, everything is conspiring to be difficult. Not unusual for me, nor, I am sure, is it unusual for anyone else. The stresses--big and little--have a way of eroding one's patience, good will and resolve. But it's been nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

So, I sat in my car, waiting, and it was hot, and I was deeply sad, and unsure why. Because it was hot, I had the driver and passenger side windows down, and I could hear the woman who'd parked behind me ask a man across the street if he had change for the parking meter. He didn't.

In my rear view mirror, I could see the woman digging around in her bags and in her car, presumably looking for change. At that moment, the daughter appeared, and through the passenger window, I handed her two quarters and asked her to give them to the woman behind us. The daughter rarely questions this sort of request, and she simply said, "OK," took quarters and walked over to the woman. The woman handed the daughter a dollar bill and the daughter came back and asked if I had any more change. I gave her another two quarters, which she took over to the woman. Then the daughter got in the car, and I pulled away from the curb and set off for home.

I remember the actual moment when I was a child that I became aware of my self (as opposed to myself), aware of the consciousness that looked out from these eyes. I was supposed to be taking a nap, something I never did as a child, and I was staring at my bedroom door, alternately willing my imprisonment to be over and playing number games in my head. It was startling, that moment when I noticed the limits to my vision imposed by the bone comprising my skull, and powerful. I suddenly understood my corporeal person and conscious self to be two distinct entities, and I recognized the limits of the first and limitlessness of the second. And as a very young child, I was gleeful in the realization that my mother could trap my body but not my mind.

And perhaps it is the sense of being trapped from which today's sadness sprang. Locked in a hot car, locked in this body, locked into managing the crazy around me. For now at least, my brain remains unlimited, and my ability to imagine, to make an impact, to see is still limitless.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Yup, I know. It's been awhile since I've actually written.

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