the multitude of selves

Am I changing? Is a man’s character changeable? Imagine an immortal. Revolting to think he might be making the same old boo-boos over the centuries. To think of the immortal on his 700,552nd birthday still touching the plate even when someone has told him it’s hot – surely we have deep capacity for change but our 80 years doesn’t give us ample opportunity. You have to be a fast learner. You have to cram infinity into a handful of lousy decades.
This morning passed horribly deformed beggar who was for all practical purposes merely a torso rattling a cup. Was it really me who have him 100 francs & said Take the day off? It wasn’t me, not exactly. It was one of my selves, one of the multitudes. Some of them laugh at me. Others bite their nails in suspense. One snorts with derision. That’s how they are, the multitudes. Some of the selves are children & some are parents. That’s why every man is his own father & his own son. With the years if you learn enough you can learn how to shed your selves like dead skin cells. Sometimes they come out of you & walk around.
Yes I’m changing. Change is when new selves come into foreground while others recede into forgotten landscapes. Maybe definition of having lived full life is when every citizen in the hall of selves gets to take you for a spin, the commander the lover the coward the misanthrope the fighter the priest the moral guardian the immoral guardian the lover of life the hater of life the fool the judge the jury the executioner, when every last soul is satisfied at moment of death. If only one of the selves has been nothing but a spectator or a tourist then the life is incomplete.

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

speechless for spoken word

I have no words for this Ted Talk, other than… gratitude.

Gratitude to the very special friend who put me onto Sarah Kay by sharing her performance of ‘When Love Arrives’ with me (do yourself a favour, scroll down to the bottom to watch it). Mel and I were sharing a bottle of wine and waxing on about how and when love shows up in our lives, whether you can make a choice to fall in love or whether it is something that happens to you, against your will even. And I’m not even talking about That Big Decision to marry and commit until the death do’s etc. I suppose it’s possibly a rehearsal for what that might be – for some, at least.

We decided it was probably either or both, depending on the circumstances – and the people involved. But even now, I can’t help wondering if by making the conscious decision to love someone and enter into a relationship with them isn’t in fact the relationship safe route. And maybe it is – but is that the point? Is that when it actually works out? And isn’t that what we’re looking for? We certainly have been taught to think that we should want it. And we all know the marriage certificate alone isn’t quite enough these days. Something happens before that. There’s more to it than that.

Interestingly, I was at a Hen’s Day for another very great girlfriend of mine this weekend, and again another fabulous woman (not the bride-to-be, I should clarify!) shared her story with me about how she made the choice to fall in love with her best friend. She quite despised him up until that point (which, I know, sounds like the makings of a highly successful sitcom, right?). But it made me wonder – is this something that women do, and not just in their thirties, but by their very nature? Do we feel like we have no other choice than to make the decision for ourselves and our unknowing – but soon-to-be-willing – partner?

If so, this idea doesn’t feel very natural to me. My brain is a little unsure as to the workings of my feminine heart, particularly at the moment, but I tend to think I often don’t have a choice in matters of the heart. I also have never quite been able to shake off those relationships that ‘made sense’ or were ‘good for me’ – constantly questioning should they be reconsidered? revisited? reignited? hanging around in the back of my mind like that fucking tub of ice cream sitting in my freezer that keeps nudging at my guilt and saying, ‘I’m still here…’

But I can put those broken nerve endings back together and find that spark again, right? I can be one of those people who says:

You there, yes, you – come over here for a moment, would you? Oh god no, not you – you’re a bit pale and needy. No – YOU. Yes, thank you. Now, let me see… You look nice. You smell ok. You sound like a human being. Ah excellent, is that some lose change in your pocket? Ok, good. And how’re your privates? Everything in working order? Just in case motherhood ever starts to amuse me. Brilliant – I have decided I think I’d rather like to fall in love with you. How does ‘life’ sound? Or perhaps let’s start with 10 years and go from there, what do you say?

Yeah. I could. Couldn’t I?

I know – I’m hilarious. Of course, it’s not that simple. But perhaps some people just know what is good for them. And then they actually take action and go for it.

I hope they know how inspiring that is to watch.

Sarah’s wise words of advice…

 Step One: I can

Step Two: I will

Step Three: It’s not just the old adage of ‘write what you know’, it’s about gathering up all the experiences and knowledge that you’ve collected up to now in order to help you dive into what you don’t know.

Righto then, here goes…

Ten Things I Know To Be True

1. I just ate half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I bought it two nights ago when I was drunk. The probability of buying ice-cream had I not drunk the three double-shot gins and half bottle of wine is significantly lower.

2. My chocolate-peanut-caramel-swirl-ice-cream chaser was a packet of fruit Mentos.

3. I felt guilty about eating both of these things about ten minutes before I even peeled myself off the couch to get them from their respective safe keeping spots. I know I can’t have these things in the house otherwise I will eat them.

4. Both times it was definitely a choice, and yet there is a small part of me that feels I was being held hostage by the processed sugar gods.

5. I need to let go of my negative relationship with food because I’ve just wasted the first five of my ‘ten things I know to be true’ list focusing just on that. Either I’m really unintelligent with nothing in particular to say – in which case I should shut down this blog right this second – or I’m wasting my time on distractions and negative thoughts and not getting on with things. Important things. Like life. I only came to this realisation, however, after watching both the videos I have shared here.

(Right. Watch this, here I go…)

6. Music speaks to me in a way that I imagine religion speaks to its devotees. (ah, well done, that’s deep…)

7. Writing makes me feel like I am home. (Now I’m surprising even myself – that’s actually true. I should write a whole lot more than I do. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, shut it…you lost it – this just got boring…)

8. I wish I had half the courage to believe Sarah’s first step, in order to do step two, so that I can achieve step three.

9. Number 8 is actually bullshit. I’ve done it before. I could/should do it again. I am clearly choosing not to.

10. I miss love frequently…and yet perhaps I should be open to the fact that it may not be good for me. And perhaps that’s a good thing to know and take action on.

And then there’s this…