Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I sometimes wonder . . .

. . . what it means to be human.

Is it feeling this hard bench--that I have been sitting on for too many hours--beneath me? Or is it the fact that time can pass, and I will still be here?

Is it knowing that tomorrow I have hours and hours of expectations to live up to and no preparation to match it? Is it being able to glance around the room I am sitting in and notice the paintings, plants, curtains, and the cell phone, sitting on its side, next to the box of gardening stakes that I haven't yet opened? Is it being able to make sense of what those details mean?

Is being human listening to music in order to match my mood to its? Is it the ability to pull out phrases that connect to me and leave the rest, untouched and un-thought-about, in the song?

Is it the throb of feeling that pumps through my system even when I tell it to stop? Is that what makes me human? Unwanted feeling?

Or is it being vulnerable? And fragile? And entirely disoriented?

Sometimes, I wish that I could call out to the ancestor that I am named for. I would say, "Olive, what made you human, but in such a beautiful and strong way?" I think that Olive would remember the suffering she endured before her life ended too soon, and the pain of leaving four children orphaned, but would she remember what it was that made her soar? And is she soaring now?

I hope so.


Betty Edit said...

q. All of the above.

Perhaps it is reconciling the intrigue of everything physical with the ideals and memory of the spiritual.

I like the following quote, which seems to be attributed to Virginia Woolf, but which I could only find quoted from the movie The Hours:

"To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it last, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away."

And I can't say I exactly know what that means 100%, but since I first heard it I've always felt it resonate somewhere inside of me.

And that's part of being human too.

Olive Kite said...

What does "to put it away" mean? Does it mean that you forget about it? Or does it mean that you carefully wrap it in your finest hankerchief and slip it inside your pocket, where you save it for later?

Olive Kite said...

I like the quotation, by the way.

Betty Edit said...

I think it means to write it down in your journal.

Olive Kite said...

A journal? Ugh.

Ida said...

The wonderful way you write makes me want to be able to write as you do or to not write because when I do write, it isn't beautiful, flowing, poetic, and moving.

Olive Kite said...

This is the toughest comment to respond to. Sometimes, I dream that I can write. And sometimes, I feel like no matter what I do, it will never come out right or never be finished. But one carries on, right?

Writing has different facets. It doesn't need to be poetic. It DOES need to be sincere, honest, and interesting. Your blog is all of those things . . . and I bet it's poetic in places too! AND, who needs writing when you have plants and flowers and . . . all that is beautiful.

Sheila said...

If you still have a copy of the David O. McKay essays from when Christl's essay won, dig it out and read it. She writes about her mom carefully folding away dreams and putting them away for later.