Saturday, May 7, 2011


Sorry for the delay, those of you who are interested in reading these things. Here's another navel-gazing ditty, in which I meant to write about one form of security but ended up writing about another.

So. Security can mean a lot of things, especially in my life. Security was once my main obstacle to living. It was my father's obsession, which made it my own. It kept me from living in the world for fear of whatever terrible things it could do to me. This was compounded by my own fears of the terrible things I could do to the world – terrible usually meaning...causing someone any slight inconvenience. So I and my father receded into the most secure place of all, deep into our house for him, and deep into myself for me. I made my own world where I was the only one who could get hurt, which was completely fine by me, and I even if I did get hurt I would have a net of fantasy to catch my fall. Or the ones who really got hurt were the avatars in my head who stood in for the friends and feelings I didn't let myself experience. I wish that wasn't psycho-babble, but it's pretty accurate.

Flash-forward, I weakly attempted to rebel as a teenager by pushing back against my father's restrictions and pushing myself into the world. This manifested in such wild ways as walking to the post office by myself, taking the subway to Berkeley to meet a friend – things of that nature. I tested the waters of risk but not as much as I perhaps should have. It grew more and more clear over the years, mostly in retrospect, how much of the limiting factor was actually me, my own fears, my own paranoia that had perhaps been planted by him but was lovingly cultivated by my own neuroses. This obviously became much clearer after my dad died.

Where was I then? I had taken a small hop outside of security by choosing to go to college at Harvard, many miles away from everything approaching comfort, but still a bubble that probably wouldn't let me hurt myself any more than I could at home (which...was a significant amount). Unsurprisingly, Dad and even Mom were uncomfortable with this at first, despite their consuming pride in what I had managed to do, what they apparently believed I had the potential to do all this time. My mom and maybe Dad too gently pushed me out of the nest to watch me fly despite the many factors making it more likely that I would crumble beneath.

Dad died a month into my time at Harvard – first time away from home, no friends, too far to get back in time, etc. That's another story that I don't really feel the need to share because I have so much already, and even though it's clearly affected much of my current life, it's no longer a matter scorching at the surface of my skin to get out and be told. The result was, in short, a loss of all feelings of security, control, a belief that things could sort of happen in a way I could predict and handle. I could have predicted this but I didn't. Maybe nothing could really be predicted, or known in advance, or hoped for, or matter. The center no longer held, there was no center.

I'll fast-forward again through a lot of foolishness and emotional purgatory. I've come to accept that I have to be my own center, at least. At first, and now too, I struggle with the idea of needing so very deeply to be the center for the people I love – who are a LOT of people. I usually feel this is more important than being my own, thinking about what I need and so forth. If anyone I love – or all of them – is faltering, then I need to be the stable one. I need to reassure them and make sure I make the good things I promise happen. Dad tried to be that, and to a great extent succeeded, so it became my job, for my extended family.

But as I said, I recognize that being my own center is far more important, even if I don't always put it into practice. I can let myself live in the world and live in it AS IT IS – that is, in the chaos, the unpredictability, the wondrous and tragic mishaps, the risks and the protection I give when it's necessary. My head dominates me more than it should, but the effect has gotten much better. I no longer live inside it, I believe, nor am I dissociated from it. It keeps me centered. It reminds me to evaluate, to trust, to trust chaos and predictability and the constants that...probably aren't constants, but can be treated as such.

We don't know where or how fast or what properties the electron has. But we can successfully predict its behavior if we act as if we know some of these key pieces of information, by basically treating them as irrelevant – or at least, as foregone conclusions. This is how I need to remind myself to live my life, in a less dispassionate way than the physicist, if possible. On a Principle of Uncertainty, with a dab of rational and emotional security.

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