Monday, August 31, 2015

How Did I Become Myself? And Who Was I Before?

I apologize in advance for what will probably be in the short 'n lame category. Feeling the effects of a trifle too much celebrating. Without a doubt the most I've eaten since July of 2004. That would be when the Gagdad pancreas decided to go on strike. With diabetes, it's always an experiment: eat this and drink that, and see what happens. At least now I know.

So, er... delusional thinking in history. Pretty crazy, huh? What's up with that? It's like... wo.

Which reminds me. Back when I was an undergraduate, that's probably how I wrote. I would have no doubt been qualified to contribute to Shit My Students Write.

The other day my son, who will be starting the fifth grade, was asking me when I started to enjoy writing. When I was in the fifth grade -- and sixth, and seventh... and twelfth, etc. -- I was just like him: I had no use for school, and I literally couldn't imagine someone actually enjoying it. I didn't socialize with those people.

That attitude stayed with me through my first stab at college, which ended when I simply quit going in the middle of my junior year. I was already on academic probation and would have been tossed out anyway, so I took matters into my own hands and gave up like a man.

Being that I've related this boring story before, I won't go into the details. But something began changing in me in my mid-twenties, and I still haven't figured out exactly what and certainly why. How can someone completely change like that, especially when not trying to? Rather, it just happened, as "organically" as, say, going from childhood to puberty. It's as if a switch were flipped. Or, it's like type 1 diabetes: one day you make insulin, next day you don't. Decision-wise, you personally are out of the loop.

But how could one be out of the loop of such a consequential life change?

Unless we have much less control than we realize, or that we only pretend to be the master of forces that are not only beyond our control, but unknown to us.

I don't know. Does "late bloomer" cover it?

Then again, there is the Call and there is answering the Call. I won't deny that there was a great deal of work on my end. I suppose the main difference is that what was once work suddenly became play.

That's what I was trying to explain to my son. It actually occurred when I was writing a senior thesis for my BA degree. This would have been in December 1981, to be exact. It was very much a sudden reversal of perspective, or like when you see the duck instead of the rabbit in the drawing. I remember scanning the thesaurus in search of the best word to express what I was attempting to convey, when I had a kind of aha! moment of realization that I was actually enjoying this. It was literally dis-orienting, because now I was the opposite of myself.

No, seriously. Imagine my dilemma. I'm working in a supermarket. I'm lucky to make a good wage, but I am an unskilled laborer -- with the exception of nunchuck and bowhunting skills -- with no delusions that I am anything but. I am not conflicted about this. There is no part of me that thinks the world has misjudged me, or that I actually have some great skill or purpose that has eluded mankind. At best, I'm thinking that someday maybe I'll hate responsibility less than I enjoy drinking beer with my friends, but until that day...

But now it's as if I'm suddenly introduced to another side of me. Even so, for the sake of argument, let's say it's an "intelligent side." Now what? I've systematically ignored this side for 25 years, so it's a little like finding out at age 38 that you can throw a 95 mph fastball. That's nice, but it's a tad late for a career in the big leagues. Sorry, but that boat has left the harbor.

Thus began my cognitive rehabilitation. Fortunately I had no idea how much I didn't know, so I began reading far and wide in a completely haphazard manner, with no recognizable pattern. You know, like today. I knew I had a lot of catching up to do, but I had no practical reason for doing it. There was no plan and no goal. It was completely and utterly Impractical, and still is to this day.

Perhaps we should widen out the perspective and make this more general, especially because I just ran out of time. But what is change, what changes, and how does it change?

10 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Feeling the effects of a trifle too much celebrating. Without a doubt the most I've eaten since July of 2005.

Must have been quite the occasion. Assuming some sort of congratulations are in order for someone, so... congratulations, to ______, upon the _____ _____!

Then again, there is the Call and there is answering the Call.

Yes, I know that feeling. Funny thing, that Call, it can happen at pretty much any time, too. Whenever our ears empty out, I guess.

8/31/2015 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"... But what is change, what changes, and how does it change?..."

Sounds like the modern store clerk when the power goes out and people still want to buy stuff.

I got rear ended last week on the way into work, scrambled my noggin. After a rambling call to my wife that scared her for no reason at all, I got to work, and very quickly they asked "You... don't seem to be yourself. ..." "Really? Who do I seem to be?" Which got me a free ride to meet my wife at the ER - mild concussion. Don't do math for a day, you'll be fine.

Strange feeling, not being yourself. Sorta like going from a toothless musician to a father, computer geek, spelunker of Western Civ. How does that happen?

I dunno. Cha...cha...changes. Strange.

8/31/2015 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Um... toothless -> rootless. Thanks for that change autocorrect. Very helpful.

8/31/2015 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I self-medicated for a fairly long stretch. When I started refusing to knock myself out, I had to learn how to cope with reality. I had to learn how to talk to people without saying f**k every fourth word, and standing around grinning idiotically no longer seemed so cool. I had managed to alienate just about everybody by that time, so we were broke. We started reading all the time because the library was free.

8/31/2015 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Van, sorry to hear about yer noggin. Not to scare you but if you don't feel yourself after a day or so you might want to check out 'The Ghost in My Brain -How a concussion stole my life and how the new science of brain plasticity helped me get it back.' It's the story of an AI Professor in Chicago who was rear ended in an auto accident and lost a lot of functionality. He regained it all by wearing special glasses that bent the light to a different area of his retina. It all sounds too good to be real but, apparently it is.

8/31/2015 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

I guess you could say there is no goal, or the path and the goal are the same.

8/31/2015 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I hope you feel better soon, Van and like yourself. Good idea, don't do math when you are somebody else. Also, don't attempt to break dance. Not that I ever have.

8/31/2015 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And will be more like yourself, I'm sure you like yourself unless you're somebody else. :)

8/31/2015 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Being that I've related this boring story before, I won't go into the details. But something began changing in me in my mid-twenties, and I still haven't figured out exactly what and certainly why. How can someone completely change like that, especially when not trying to? Rather, it just happened, as "organically" as, say, going from childhood to puberty. It's as if a switch were flipped. Or, it's like type 1 diabetes: one day you make insulin, next day you don't. Decision-wise, you personally are out of the loop.

But how could one be out of the loop of such a consequential life change?

Unless we have much less control than we realize, or that we only pretend to be the master of forces that are not only beyond our control, but unknown to us.

I don't know. Does "late bloomer" cover it?

Then again, there is the Call and there is answering the Call. I won't deny that there was a great deal of work on my end. I suppose the main difference is that what was once work suddenly became play."

I think you are on the right track, Bob. When it comes to destiny one can't say that God doesn't give us every opportunity, help and nudge to show us it's the best Way. And yet it is always tailored to our own individual uniqueness as our destiny dovetails towards God.
It's amazing how that can change our attitudes and outlook when the Light clicks on!

8/31/2015 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Thanks all, but luckily it appears that I was only shaken, not stirred.

:-)

9/01/2015 09:16:00 AM  

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