mirrorshard: (Blue flower tea)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
This is a passing ramble inspired by a lemming I found. Here's the original, though I'm not going to name any of the N different places I've seen it now and again.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your own bulletin...along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

Most of the brick pavement inside the ante-chamber had been destroyed by Taylor's workmen, and we therefore could dig down below floor level without doing further damage. That's from Ur of the Chaldees: Seven Years of Excavation, by Sir Leonard Woolley, and the fifth sentence is two-thirds of the way down the page. The first four are much longer and more interesting, detailing inscriptions and full of semicolons, but the fifth it was.

It took me awhile to decide which was the closest, between that, Shakespeare's Kings, Mansfield Park, and Kushiel's Chosen, all of which are sitting on my bedside table. I did actually finish Mansfield Park this time around, at least.

Now, the reason I mention that is not because I think this is in any way cool or interesting in itself - it's because I had a sudden flash of myself as an early teenager, seventeen years ago, thinking, I want to be this sort of person, the kind who does, and has, and knows, lots of different things all the time.

And, as one does, I put away childish things (OK, so that's an outright lie, but necessary in context, I'm sure you'll agree), and thought no more on the subject, glumly convinced that I was never going to be particularly interesting or unusual, and being entirely aware that deliberately collecting obscure interests or filling my pockets with odd things would be
  • Counterproductive
  • Pretentious
  • and Effort.

Then, about two years ago, I happened to be talking to a friend, someone who'd only known me for six months or so, about Doctor Who and the peculiar and varied contents of his pockets. (Jelly baby, anyone? I'm quite disappointed that Ecclestone never had much of anything interesting in his pockets, for that matter.) I happened to mention in passing that I'd always wanted to be like that, and she looked at me strangely. But you are, she said, and I was quite boggled, since that had never occurred to me. (She may of course have been wrong; most of what haunts my pockets these days are pieces of paper and stray hair ties.)

Being able to remember a thought like that, and to know that in some degree I've achieved it without noticing, gives me a wonderful, precious, sense of time passing, golden hours stored up against a future full of rain. More than that, though, it's a reminder that things do happen, people (even I) change and grow, and all without anyone paying attention to the process. That what is, to me, a collection of quirks, bad habits, momentary enthusiasms, and decisions made in haste or at leisure, one at a time and never taken back, looks to others like a real, developed person to be taken and considered as a whole. None of this, of course, is News, but it's nice to internalize it, to have the same feeling of growing into my skin that a museum, a Monet or a Meeting gives me.

Mindfulness is one word for it, or living between the crown of your head and the soles of your feet. I like grace, though, partly for the theological implications (I might not be much of a Christian, but experience has led me to believe in, and approve of, grace), and partly because that's what it feels like, bringing back memories of theatre voice and movement training. The kinetic memory likes to draw analogies between this feeling and showjumping, working with the horse's movements and keeping balance, keeping up with everything. (Cf. "flow", Csikszentmihalyi, 1975. Also, Koster on pattern recognition and the Theory of Fun).

So, that's me; and whilst all mirrors lie, it's better than no mirror at all.
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