Thursday, March 28, 2013

Farting Around

"Dreaming of hummingbirds, tweet, tweet, tweet," is followed by snorting pig sounds then the hummingbird refrain. This audio file loop has no stop or pause button.

In my world, the noise level rises as the sun sets. I'm not on another planet, but ensconced in a car with my family. The racket is annoying. "Every night is tv when you're dreaming," my daughter tells her brother as if they were remotely near dreamland. The energy level ramps up with their desperado attempts to stay awake. I wish there was a spray mist or a magic incantation that would topple them into slumberland.

My mind drifts from the book I cannot read to the day with kiddos on spring break to thoughts on what I'm doing with my life. Maybe it's the Lenten season and my general neglect of engagement with it this year, but I sense a kind of soul reaction in a negative direction when I consider my merits and lack of achievement. I fear I am driven toward signs of success or progress that do not come. I check my bearings. I recollect a favorite Kurt Vonnegot quote that came my way recently.

[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore. 
– Kurt Vonnegut, Interview by David Brancaccio, NOW (PBS) (7 October 2005)


"... we're here on earth to fart around," resonated with me. Maybe I just need this to be the case. It takes the pressure off of amounting to something, a vague something that eats at me. One day I'm fine with whatever. Another day I'm stressing that I'm not adding some visible whatever to the world. Besides, my whole life makes way more sense through the farting around lens of focus.

We drive past globes of white lights and intersections of green and red circles hanging from rectangular boxes to the repeated phrase of, "Stop," which is followed by bodily noises such as lip sucking, mouth popping, and clucking as the dance of insanity continues. An intervention is pointless as we have hours to go.

My reverie turns to Jude the Obscure, the book I'm reading. The character, Jude, is married but without a wife and jealous of a developing relationship between his old schoolmaster and his cousin. I marvel that Hardy, the writer, can make a story of a longing for learning and a life as lived. His characters tend to wait and wait to do things, to say things. I tend to blurt things out. I dislike pacing and want the characters to stop holding themselves back. And yet the story is because of what is held back and what isn't. The tension between what we want and what is, is the driver in the story, in life. I want to rev the gas like a helmet-less Harley rider at a stop light in an Ohio town. Maybe I see too far down the line-- where the fumble leads to a fall. The fall shatters what is. The pieces are never the same. Instead the broken places are filled and mended; they are reinforced. White scars of survival stand as reminders of our fragility and as hardened places where we have come together again. I want to dissipate the uncomfortable tension like chalk dust riding the wind.

The moon is full. The sky is cloudy. I am twiddling my thumbs. A fierce growl lies in wait. Do those old superstitions hold weight in modern life? What does it mean to have a werewolf in your soul on the eve of Maundy Thursday? I should stop farting around or maybe it's that I'd rather be dancing.