It was the best that I could do

August 29th, 2006

The day I turned my back on all you people
I felt an itching in my thumbs
The salt air like a broadcast from the distant, dark beyond
When my transformation comes

I went down to the warm, warm water
Saw a pelican fly past
Waved once at the highway and left all that behind me
I went wading through the grass

And no one was going to come and get me
There wasn’t anybody gonna know
Even though I leave a trail of burnt things in my wake
Every single place I go

The Mountain Goats – In Corolla

You have, say, a very large drawer full of miscellaneous stuff. Random mementos of time passed, things collected that were once literal representations of time and place that time has now turned into metaphorical expressions of memory and association. Things you’ve held on to because you always meant to ‘get to it’, or because the meaning wrapped around those inanimate objects has become so much more powerful than the object or event itself.

When you first open the drawer you’re faced with some kind of chaos – every piece is lumped in together and there is no order, rhyme or reason to its contents. The sheer amount of disorganised mess is intimidating. At this point it’s so easy to shut the drawer again – to take whatever you’re holding in your hand, that thing you’re looking to shelve, store, and forget, and carefully place it on top of the mess before pushing it slowly closed. ??You see the top layer of bits and pieces and think that the mess isn’t hurting anyone – once the drawer is closed no one can see what’s inside. You can hold all those things, can keep them close and not have to let them go, without really facing them and calling yourself on why they mean so much to you in the first place.

Generally, anyway, you’re too busy to pay much attention to why you keep the drawer closed. You know there is stuff in there you probably should ‘get to’, but you justify your inaction by saying everything else filling your life is more important. It’s just so easy to pretend the mess is not there.

But one day you open the drawer and look at the mess with new eyes. Perhaps you remember something in there that you need to draw on. Something that you want to look at and hold, to remember and feel the time and place that led you to keep it. You open the drawer and start sifting through. You realise quite quickly something needs to be done about the situation because the mess is making any amount of organised thought frustratingly difficult. ??So, after maybe a little while of approaching the drawer from different angles, of picking things up and putting them down, of furrowing your brow and wondering if it’s all just a bit too hard, you pick up something purposefully and decide to go one object at a time. You isolate that one thing from that massive pile of things and what it, on its own, means to you. You file, it, organise it, or throw it away. Then the next, and the next and before you know it that top layer is changing shape, form and colour.

You can’t get anywhere until you make a start, and you can’t make a start without making a choice. A choice that the current state of affairs is less than satisfactory. I think, realistically, I’m still on that top layer. The last 2 or 3 weeks has actually seen me adding to the layer and closing the drawer. The drawer is open tonight though, and I have organised some shit (metaphorically speaking) into a least some piles. I’ve got some work to do before it’s all in order, and I’m quite a long way from turning that drawer upside down and shaking out the dust.

Still, I’ve made a start. And that’s something.


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