Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflection...

Another day has passed.

And tomorrow, it’s going to be another day again.

Time grinds on… in a speed that often astounds me. I sometimes wonder if I could somehow slow it down… but that is wishful thinking on my part. It will never stop for me.

Talking with my friend Bill who is now out of Calgary just yesterday has made me realize that life is indeed quite short… too short if you ask me.

Of Lies and Writing…
Which gets me to contemplate about some of the aspects of my life… parts of which needs reevaluation. I guess in a way, our conversation made me realize certain things about myself and some of the things that define me. 

The most painful and rather frank assessment he gave me is his accusation of me being a liar.
That hurts because in a way, it might be true…

Not in the sense that I lie to people, no (though sometimes I do give lies) but rather in the sense that I have the ability to blur truth and fiction when I write. And in a way, though that might be good for an aspiring writer, it is something that needs reevaluation.

One thing that readers must understand about writers is that we tend to make statements that take on many different hues of meaning. I mean for one thing, I might be writing something that seems straightforward but when reread and evaluated is actually something of an irony that means the exact opposite and since people in general tend to interpret things literally, that presents a predicament.

Success as a writer comes when you can convince people that their writing is truth or real. Real in the sense that when you describe pain, for example, your reader actually feels the same kind of pain when they read it. Or in describing a scene, the reader somehow is transported to that moment that you describe.

Or like when you describe two lovers in a story and the reader feels like a voyeur who shouldn’t be there, you know… or you describe a conviction and people tend to believe you… that’s the pinnacle of the writing craft… when you can utterly convince people of something.

But in a way, Bill is probably right. People get hurt by the way I write things. And I myself wonder, whether it is intentional or not… I don’t know.

So when reading any of my pieces here or any other writers work, you must always be vigilant. Because sometimes words really mean more than what is apparent in the way that they are arranged. A statement of conviction can be doubt and bravado may just be covering some weakness.

Hence, we have the adage ‘Read between the lines…’ Only a few things are literal, many are figurative and symbolic…


The Real Lie

I owe this to Bill and myself more than anything. 

There is this overused example but I will use it nonetheless: 

Somebody is down on his luck and a concerned person approaches this guy and asks: Are you ok?
The man looks at the good Samaritan, smiles weakly and says:  “I’m ok. Don’t worry about me.”

We all know that it is a lie. But when people say that, we tend to move on since we are afraid that we would be intruding if we insist on asking if they are ok. We all know that he is not ok but since he says that he is, whether that is out of pride or something else, we tend to balk around and back off.

But it’s not the spoken words that matter… it’s the unspoken ones that truly does.

The irony is the fact that we question and doubt what the unspoken words are..

And that’s the tragedy.

I know what Bill was really talking about when he said that I am a liar. And I know what he was getting at. I understand the unspoken concern that was behind it. 

But humans are rather complicated creatures. And I am human…

Si Bodoh at si Bill 

Bill: So what are your plans?

Bodoh: (laughs) change the world… run to Africa… lobby the G8 to end world poverty… frolic in the Mediterranean… climb the Alps…

Bill: (just stares at Bodoh as the man enumerates the many things he wants to achieve in his life)

Bodoh: …see the world… raise some funds to sponsor scholars… (he realizes that Bill had been staring at him, he trails off…) … stuff, you know…

A long silence settles between both. There is this thing that is true to men who speak too much… they are spouting off steam. Like if you ask a person with a strained leg would cover his ailment by walking briskly despite the pain. Men are proud creatures… rarely does one face the truths. You cover deficiencies and shortcomings with words…

Bill: You sure those are the things you want?

Bodoh: (stares into space. He breathes in and out for a long drawn out moment) Yeah…

Bill: You sure?

Bodoh: (exhales deeply) Yeah…

Bill looks over his friend for a while. Outside the gophers were mewling.

Bill: So you’re really not going to establish a family?

Bodoh stands up and paces across the room. He eventually gets back to his seat.

Bodoh: Yeah…

Bill: Can I ask you a question?

Bodoh: Sure.

Bill: Let’s just say that you get married… let’s presume it you know as a matter of contention…

Bodoh: Ok, I’m game with that.

Bill: What would you do?

Bodoh: (takes a deep breath) I once swore an oath once, you know about what my life is… it went something like this: I love my mom… 

Bill: (smirks) What’s that gotta do with it?

Bodoh: Let me finish, ok? I mean as I was saying: I love my Mom. She was the one who raised me and gave me the opportunity to have what I have now… I mean, I love myself but I love my mom more… but if I get married, I’m gonna love my wife more than I love my Mom…

Bill: Go on…

Bodoh: I think that it is fitting, you know. After all, when two people become one, it’s a commitment that goes beyond the usual scope of what love is…

He pauses.

Bodoh: … I mean that’s just me… I’m … (trails) you know…

Bill (nods): So why won’t you marry?

Bodoh looks him over as if unsure whether to answer or not. It seems after a while that he wouldn’t answer…

Bodoh: Many things…

Bodoh: Like I’m not financially prepared for one… I’m restarting my life again… I’m too old… you know… the usual excuses men like me use. I could even say that I am a fat ugly bastard and that would be an excuse..

Bill: And the real reason?

Bodoh: (falls silent for a while)… the real reason?

Bill: Yeah, you know… the real reason?

Bodoh: (falls silent again…) I don’t know… maybe that no one likes me.

Bill: That’s stupid.

Bodoh: Yeah…

Bill: Come on man, what’s the real reason?

Bodoh: (exhales)

Bill: So how many girls have you courted?

Bodoh: Technically?

Bill: Yeah, as in seriously…

Bodoh: One…

Bill: (laughs) one?

Bodoh: I got stupid once, so technically it’s just once.

Bill: How’d that go?

Bodoh: I’m alone now, ain’t I? (laughs weakly). I sent a letter once to another girl but that was not technically a courtship and neither does smiling and greeting a girl qualify as courtship… so once only.

Bill: You were rejected?

Bodoh: She saw me as a competitor, I guess. She says that I was too fast… I was stupid.

Bill: How long?

Bodoh: Half a semester so that would be three months…

Bill: (laughs) I’m sorry man… 

Bodoh: She chose her career…

Bill: So that’s your reason for never marrying?

Bodoh: (stares at Bill) Are you crazy, of course not. That is not the reason. Look, I just reached a point you know, when the logical thing to do is to go at life alone. It will take me up to four or five years to reestablish myself in my life again. I can’t possibly commit another person to a roller coaster ride for the next few years. There are too many variables that are way out of my control and I don’t know if I’ll make it. It would be cruel to subject another person to that uncertainty.

Bill: You’re the responsible stickler kind.

Bodoh: What’s that?

Bill: You know… men who believe that their role is to be the primary rock. They want to be secure before they commit. They skulk in the background slaving away at their dreams while convincing themselves that someday, when they reach their dream ‘secure’ state, everything would somehow fall into place…

Bodoh: (nods)

Bill: Guess what? They fail… I mean humans never reach that level where they feel secure enough… they just wake up as old geezers with an empty house and a good credit rating and the money they save up is spent in an old retirement home in Victoria where they play solitaire with themselves… and when they die, their money is donated to charity where the only thing left over to remember you by is a small plaque in a park bench somewhere that says ‘In memory of Bodoh…’

Silence settles between both…

Bodoh: (weakly) Yeah…

Bill: And that’s the kind of life you want?

Bodoh: No, of course not…

Bill: So why?

Bodoh: ……Fear…

Bill: Fear?

Bodoh: Yeah… fear…

Bill: Fear of women?

Bodoh: Of course not… fear of failing… I mean I’m not a perfectionist or anything like that. But I fear failure so much that I am immobilized by it… what if I’m not going to be a good husband? What if, I fail as a father? What if I can’t make my wife happy? You know… stuff like those… better to stop before you know it…

Bill: You’ve got daddy issues.

Bodoh: (momentarily taken aback, his face contorted in warring emotions) … maybe. 

Bill: So what’s your story?

Bodoh: The usual stuff… mom and dad fight… dad drowns in vices, mom nags… dad strikes mom… mom has enough and chases dad away… dad finds another woman and a new family… tragic stuff, sad stuff… you don’t want to live with that kind of thing. I mean, you just shrug it off and say that it’s got nothing to do with it… but you know eldest sons and fathers, right. Those issues scar the soul.

Bill: So you’re afraid of being your dad?

Bodoh: (shrugs weakly)… I don’t know…

Bill: (falls silent)

Bodoh: I hate my Dad.

Bill: You are not your dad.

Bodoh: I know.

Bodoh: Change the subject....


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