06 January 2010

Leaving and Becoming, Again

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas. In some countries, it's celebrated as Christmas. In the church in which I was raised, this is called the day of the Epiphany.

Today I can't honestly say I've had any epiphanies. I guess we're not supposed to have them every day. I'm not sure I could handle that, anyway.

Around this time last year, I was teaching the same course I'm teaching now, during the winter intercession. It was a larger class, and it was in the evening. It was an odd time, really: I'd write or ride or do something else during the day--the afternoon, really--before going to class. The course I took--good mainly in the sense that it confirmed that taking more like it is not something I want to do--hadn't yet begun. What I had begun to do, however, was to count the number of days until my surgery.

It all seems oddly distant to me now. It feels a bit like looking at a fading black-and-white photo of myself and other people---family members, perhaps, or classmates--in poses, clothing or settings you can't recall as they're shown in the photo. If you're a child in such a photo, you seem more serene or simply cuter (or not as cute as) you recall yourself, or more precisely, the way you look in that photo.

It's like one of those memories you carry that somehow doesn't seem like one of yours, or a story that you've remembered, and possibly even told, in the way you heard it from someone else because you didn't yet have your own way of describing it to yourself.

That, by the way is, as near I can tell, the only way to gain knowledge or memories that are relevant to your own life: by describing, in your own way, your own experience to your own self. And that becomes possible when you are the subject and not the object of your own narrative.

Oh, no. I hope I don't sound like one of those dreadful texts I read in that course I took last year. If it does, I guess I had to start somewhere. Right?

I know this much: You become that subject only when you do. That is the only way to become, to learn: by doing.

And I guess there isn't a whole lot you can do with those memories frozen in amber...or sepia.