Sunday, March 28, 2010

Some Day

On some day during this past week, I don't know which one because they all seem to run together, I was quietly coveting a copy of the paper's cryptogram in the drive-thru. I was all alone back there, the supervisor wasn't in the building, and it was dead all around, a phrase which here means, "there were no customers coming to the drive-thru and there wasn't any sign at all that there would be in the near future." So, anyway, I focused my attention on this puzzle, and then glanced at the author's name, and lo! This was the very first time that that name was obvious to me (I'm not the best or the most frequent cryptogram-doer).

The quote was, It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are, by e. e. cummings.

Nothing else to do but stare out on a sunny day and think about that. It depends, doesn't it? And who are you? Who am I? What makes me me? What does it mean to be YOU? I don't believe in fate, but individuals have different genes, chemistry, and aptitudes. How often are people lucky enough to grow up to be something that truly suits them, or to even know what truly suits them?

It almost becomes a philosophical question conjuring the image of Rene Descartes, except he was really answering a different question.

I'm not altogether sure I can cope with either question, but e. e. cummings was referring to individual identities within a given culture. How would we describe ourselves as a character in a novel? What makes us tick?

For some people, the answer is easy. For instance, Ekim and I were watching This Is It, a documentary depicting the rehearsals for what was to be Michael Jackson's This Is It Tour. Several young dancers were interviewed, and they were all struggling to hold back their tears of joy long enough to speak, all amazed, pinching themselves. The try outs had been mob scenes, they were whittled down, and when the judges announced who the chosen few were, it was just like the last scene of A Chorus Line. This documentary doesn't spend much time on this part, but the point is made: these young people are dancers. They live to dance. That is what they are, this is their identity.

It's sad for them that this tour did not take place, but--they still got to dance with The King of Pop, and there were many rehearsals; Michael Jackson was an enigma, but he knew what he wanted out of a performance, and he was willing to rehearse until he got what he wanted, making his requests in a soft-spoken but firm way. I was impressed with his patience. But then--he was a performer, and always had been. That's who he was.

The conclusion, for me, is that one who is passionate about something is usually lucky, given that that passion doesn't harm others and is not overly dangerous. Music, dance, collecting--stuff, a social cause, birding. Something makes us tick, something more than just mere obligation.

And now, it's off to work. It's an obligation, but I suppose it's good for me.


Doug said...

I wish I were someone whose newspaper had a crypto-quote puzzle.

My thought about the dancers is this: In the moment the camera captured, they are aspiring dancers but who knows what they are now. Some were probably always aspiring to be celebrities, some might have been frustrated chemists, using dance to keep them afloat until they could get into M.I.T. or Penn State. Some might be lost now or been lost before they won the tryout.

Maybe in moments of triumph we are what circumstances have made us and in moments of frustration we are anything but. I'm inclined to think that e.e. cummings was talking about something transient as if it were permanent.

TLP said...

I've always wondered what I would be, if I could be what I was "meant" to be. To have a passion for something, anything, would be wonderful. I never had that.

Doug said...

TLP, I had that passion for being a cowboy. Unfortunately, I also had a passion for women who are basically mythological in a cowboy's world.

I was thinking about this post after I made the previous comment and it made me think about my mother who I've heard tell was a dancer. According to her stories, she loved dance and supported herself until my dad finished college by winning dance contests and teaching ballet and jazz. I never saw my mother dance until I was maybe 30, because by the time I came along, she was a school teacher and not a dancer and it seems that a dancer is what she had been, not what she was.

Anyway, I'd be lying if I said "social services administrator" is something I thought I was meant to be.

Bone said...

I think this is why I always skip the cryptoquote and just do the sudoku.

actonbell said...

I like to think that my obligation-of-the-moment, or whatever j.o.b. I happen to have, is not who I am. Sure, my functioning in this job is a reflection of my personality, but it could have been so many other jobs. So perhaps I define myself by my awkward personality, which seems to be the only permanent thing about me.
And Doug, aren't job titles awful? You do good work, but the title sounds so sterile.

Mom, I'm not sure most of us have a "meant to be."

Bone, cryptos are such fun:)

Logophile said...

I love that quote.
I think the focus is in the becoming though. I don't know that most of us ever really finish growing up by e.e. cummings' definition but the point is the journey, the becoming.
I've seen too much of TLP's passion for her family ONLINE to believe that she doesn't have a meant to be. If the internet reflection is at all accurate I would say "That TLP" was definitely a passionate mother and grandmother.
Doug's mom's dancing got her where she was and was a part of who she was. She may have been a teacher but she was a teacher who was a dancer, that was part of her journey to who she was.
Those kids on the video may go on to do amazing things, or maybe they won't, but PART of their selves will always be those eager dancers sharing a stage with Michael Jackson. The rest of their journey will be flavored by that.
Every previous moment in our lives leads to the ones we have now and THESE are leading to the next.
Social Services Administrator is not who Doug is, it is how who he is right now gains income.
The aptitudes, the genes, the chemicals, the experiences, and inclinations of us all are so much more than just what we "do."
Actonbell, when you blog about travel or reading, there appears to be a fair bit of passion there.

I don't know, I get carried away and all evangelist-y when I hear people talking about passion as if it something for a few bright stars rather than the home fire we can all warm ourselves by.
We are all in the process of becoming our future selves and anything we love shapes the journey.

Nessa said...

Seeing passion in action makes me envious. And I think I don't have any but I know it's not true.

And thank goodness I am not my job but it does allow me to pursue my passions. If my passions were my job i might be so passionate about them.

actonbell said...

Well said, Logo! Life is what happens on the way to becoming, and it's a wonderful thing when we can simply enjoy the journey. It seems that people look back with more fondness than they lived at the time.

Nessa, I feel that way, too.