Latter days tend to color those to come and those long ago gone
March 8, 2012 § 5 Comments
I grew up in a family of little ambition. Which isn’t to say mine is a particularly novel story. Suburban households seem built on the backs of men and women who work hard, in their various means and ways, but more often than not for the sake of a new backyard deck or popup camper—rarely used, both—or a new child, loved more often than not, one hopes—or a new home—the manicured green of our contemporary nihilism. Of course, many tired tales begin with the confessed hubris, “I was different from all those around me,” and while mine is not so different in that regard, I also insist on at the very least a twist. As I’ve grown older and seen the effects of my being different from my family—that is, having ambition, say, to once upon a time become a man of God, to pursue peace and justice in this world, come hell or jail, or more recently a man of letters and academy—I’ve discovered these all in some crucial sense are misplaced, and that I was not as equal to the ambition I imagined for myself. Latter days tend to color those to come and those long ago gone, so now I wonder whether what I perceive as laziness in my family is still very much rooted in me as well, but somehow, tragically even, not supplemented by their acceptance of life as an accumulation and enjoyment of value. Derived from a variety of experiences documented and accoutrements displayed, the valuation of life is, in my reckoning, its flattening into something more simple because it is predicated on its being attainable. The ones who prefer not, so I’ve learned, are heroes only in the most incarcerated sense. For to see more in life than life itself is prepared or able to offer, which may be as good a definition of creativity as I’m capable, is to set oneself up mostly for failure, all on the off chance that occasionally, in glimpses, these often in hindsight, after the moment has passed, our moment of life even, in the vicariousness of another’s remembrance, a value that is no longer so simple as a wage earned or a price paid.
Yes, the word for this life-affirming failure can only but be the same as the many gestures of its unspoken sentiment, ambition.