Thursday, March 6, 2008

Slip Pupils in Dark Corners

"Any decision, even if it looks and feels like the right one, made out of fear will never lead to happiness" - T. N., pg 25, 7/20/2006

I never thought one of the token pretty things I picked up at the bookstore at The Huntington would ever be more than a conversation piece when I was 17. But evolution is its own miracle, even in the form of a tiny notebook.
It's become my catch-all for funny things I hear, profound images I come across and plan to use in a book someday, and thoughts that come to me that I don't want to loose. It's a confidant that I call a thought notebook. Crazy creative huh? I've tried to think of a name or title for it but all wit on the matter has alluded me. It's let me quote myself, reflect back on moments of clarity, and let me feel (just for a second) like the deep person I hope to be someday.
It also lets me add to conversations I've had with myself or fully digest, in retrospect, things I didn't understand before.

There was one quiet moment in church when someone was talking about something related to some brave acts that people in scripture have performed and that got me wandering in my brain about what makes someone brave. I've heard the solder's and Generals quotes saying "courage is not the absence of fear but doing what you have to in spite of it" and like sentiments from people how have had to face real fear and exhibited real bravery and have achieved great things because of it. Fear is then implied to be this constant that you simply have to learn to maneuver around. I didn't like that idea very much, it seemed so Defeatist to me. So I went to a happy place and started thinking about Forrest Gump.

Here's a man that achieved great things and never really understood half of what he did. I felt some connections coming on so I picked up my notebook -

"There is a difference between courage and simplistic fortitude. To have or demonstrate courage one must have a working knowledge of the consequences of failure. Oblivion to the stakes of the situation takes the concept of courage totally out of the equation." T.N., pg 15, 5/12/2004

But Forrest was afraid. He was afraid of a lot of things, like loosing Jennie or his friends, not getting shot in Vietnam or loosing face. His mind was always in higher plains because of his simplicity and that is what enabled him to do such great things, not being brave. He really is an amazing character.

I've taken out the concept of fear more than once since, looked at it, got a few chills, and decided to Scarlet O'Hara it for a day that I felt stronger.

Then I started watching Quarterlife about two weeks ago.
I know, I know.
"Liz - are you really watching that webisode thing?!"
Yes. Yes I am, and I'll tell you why. It's excellent.
(excellent = the writing is honest, the acting is great. It's not pretentious and I think about it after.)

What I've noticed what stays with me is that the way the show talks about fear and is so honest about it. Like I wish I could be brave enough and self aware enough to understand that the reason I may be catty to the person I love is because I'm afraid of them and the sway they have over me, or the real reason I resent my job is because I don't have the ovaries to get up and do what I really want to.

"Fear, pain, and discomfort are almost never the problem. It's the lack control related to each that starts fires" T.N., pg 30, 8/14/2006

The reason I make a lot of every day decisions is because I'm afraid of not being good enough, or not being loyal enough to my generation or the planet or my art, not making bills, not having anything to say for myself at cocktail parties, not being interesting enough even to flirt, of people leaving. It's all there and all scattered through the pages of my thought notebook guised as political insights or bad puns.

I haven't reached any sweeping or new conclusions. I know fear is irrational and based on unrealistic self imposed expectations derived from sensational media, fairy tales, our perceptions of "perfect people" and Oprah. I know that if I don't and am not everything I think I should be a big black hole will not open up in the street and suck me down to the Bog of Eternal Stench. And even if it did I would still probably be OK. My head knows all of this, but I think it's still traveling southward and hasn't landed yet.

I'm still scribbling in my notebook on the matter, but a little distance from it in the mirror of my computer monitor has made me pull out the concept a little more often lately and I've been feeling strong enough to actually look those darly lit slit pupiled eyes head on and I'm realizing they're the same blue as mine.


Liz W. said...

First of all: I love that the "bog of eternal stench" is in your psyche. It floats in mine, too.

Second: We seem to be on the same wavelength in regards to fear/courage. You're post seems like an addendum to my quote post on Wed. And I love your thoughts on courage as recorded in your thought notebook (by the way, I have a similar depository for my thoughts).

You've given me even more to think about in my relationship with fear and courage. Thank you for that!

Ms. Liz said...

I know! When I I read your Wonder-Ful Wednesday post I was like "this is so a echo of where I've been lately!" and just wanted to spew everything I had been thinking on and mulling over for this post (cause I had been drafting it for a while but hesitating publishing it all). Yay for Liz power!!

And thank you for helping me understand what I really wanted to say a bit better. That article was epic and so "well -duh" profound.

Ms. Liz said...

article meaning the mental health one (see my comment on your post). I think the two are really really realted.

Mr. Hall said...

Liz, you are awesome! Thanks for the excerpts from your thought notebook and your commentary. Good stuff--it has really given me some things to ponder. I have a similar book that I keep as well, though it is extremely small--this is all I've really got on fear: "There are two basic emotions which reside with any given individual of the human family--love and fear. Everything which is good or praiseworthy leads to love; everything bad or evil leads to fear. Both emotions are primary motivators. Love motivates one to a life of voluntary service; fear motivates one to a life of servitude to a paralyzing master. The former works diligently to promote life while the latter labors ceaselessly to stave off death." Just thought I'd drop my two-cents to the discussion. :)