Excerpt from my Letter to A., 10 May 2006

...I'm teaching a week-long residency out here on the Coast, and I'm having a very fine time of it. All my kids are enthusiastic and deeply inspiring, the teachers are quick and forthright, the weather absolutely splendid. I spend my days making puppets with kids, helping them tell stories with them. After school I get to explore the beaches and trails honeycombing the area, with places like the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Rogue Brewery to sustain me. I'm very happy here.

If anything, it's the eve of my birthday that tempers things for me, now. Turning 25 feels sobering, mostly because I'm particularly conscious of how little I have to show for my efforts. There's a growing Credibility Gap (to use a term from the Johnson Administration) between my abilities and ambitions on the one hand, and the credentials that speak on my behalf on the other. Given how extended my responsibilities are--in caring for my mother, in pursuing my own work, in making rent every month--obtaining the necessary credentials (that is, a college education, a living wage, health care) is now an insistent priority for me, if only because it's the lack of such things that are dissuading me from extending myself even further towards more important work. My biggest challenge, as I see it, is this business of becoming a grown-up, without inflicting myself with adulthood shackles.

To this end, here I am writing yet another similar letter from another far-flung place, chronicling the ebb and rush of so many more minor ambitions, many more little triumphs and petty debacles. Projects come and go. The teeming texts of scripts and ideas that populate these gestating years still motivate their suceeding hopes and intentions, such that I am thus in thrall to a self-perpetuating momentum of impoverished creativity--which is why I rely so heavily on these lonely letters to punctuate the inexorable tide of things.

I'm driven to restlessness in the loneliness of all of this. It is deeply disquieting, in the dark of the night, to see in myself how painful my isolation can be, and still to know how impossible it is for things to be otherwise. Every minotaur has a labyrinth like this, of some kind.

From time to time valiant and indomitable friends of mine will suggest that I join forces and move east with them, trying our combined strengths and fortunes in a broader world of mightier possibilities--and it is such a tempting prospect. I only wait for the opportunity to move from a position of strength--that is, I must be capable of sustaining a degree of sophisticated imagination that will in turn enable me to properly acquit myself in my undertakings.

Is it so strange that, thus far, I feel that I haven't thus properly acquitted myself? I've only ever felt that portions, or facets of myself have ever truly been engaged at any given time. I feel like a kind of iceberg, passing through so many worlds largely submerged and untapped, hidden from view.

Of course, the greatest personal temptation to move east is the prospect of your close personal proximity. Your friendship is especially sorely missed. I am very much in need of friends, now. It is a disappointment to have cumulatively celebrated so many birthdays alone, even when I do so by choice.

I hope you will forgive and indulge me in yet another long and self-involved letter; looking back, I see too much melancholy in the tenor of my words, whereas I truly am happier right now than these pretentiously brooding words let on. It is literally quite impossible to remain discouraged for long, even in face of the larger world's calamities, when one spends so much time wrapped up with precociously invincible children.

Dear lovely A. I miss you a great deal. Please take care of yourself, and let me know how things go in these months of yours. When you come back West again, there's a number of glorious jellyfish I'd like you to meet....

much love,


1 comment:

sirbarrett said...

Almost there with you brother P. 25 is old when you think of it as a quarter of a century but you must be happy with things considering how much you've accomplished. Don't be afraid to traverse the deep psychological underground, which I'm sure will present itself more and more to you as you get older. We are a different person every day. As long as you love most of the people you are. Live it.