pafib #6

22:00 Fri 22 May 2009
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possible attitudes found in books 1) I don't know what's happening to me 2) what does it mean? 3) seized with the deepest sadness, I know not why 4) I am lost, my head whirls, I know not where I am 5) I lose myself 6) I ask you, what have I come to? 7) I no longer know where I am, what is this country? 8) had I fallen from the skies, I could not be more giddy 9) a mixture of pleasure and confusion, that is my state 10) where am I, and when will this end? 11) what shall I do? I do not know where I am

—from 'Alice', in Sixty Stories, Donald Barthelme, Penguin, New York 1993

This is the sixth in a series of eleven.

I ask you, what have I come to? Where is the glory? Have I ever sensed it, felt it, possessed it? Or have I only watched it, a voyeur, trying to warm myself with the feats of others, the fires their passions have ignited? Where are the heights to which I have ascended, when behind myself I see only hillocks?

Now it may be too late to wonder where those things are. My span is limited, and I have not set foot upon the paths to the high peaks. Now it may be time to ask if those things are beyond me. My time will pass, the remaining inclines are steep indeed, and perhaps further out of reach than ever.

I look back and see mostly waste. Not merely waste, of course. There are many good things, many lovely things, many interesting things. Certainly some time spent well. Not enough of it, and none of it in true striving. The time spent poorly looms, vast masses of it surrounding the glittering highlights, obscuring them, pushing them far, aside, and under.

I look forward and see futility. Not merely futility, of course. There may be good things, rather fewer than in the past, but some good things. Not enough. Not enough of them to counter regret from the past and the crushing burden of despair caused by knowing I can learn from but not act upon the lessons of the past.

Now is, as ever, the time to decide whether I should abandon some of those plans for times ahead that yet remain. To concede that failure is not merely a fact of the past but of the future. Yet that acceptance is itself a goal like all the others and as such similarly prone to defeat, equally likely to fail.

Without reaching for the sky, what remains of significance for me? Without the cloak of hope to fitfully occlude the inevitability of falling shorter and ever shorter, how can I act? Is all that I have left a long, or all too brief, accelerating descent into the depths, the deeps, the abyss? I ask you, what have I come to?

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