Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Ghosts That Haunt Me, Part II

I killed a bunny today. It darted out under my vehicle as I was driving along a road that is surrounded by natural plants and wildflowers. I should have known, or at least thought about the possibility of something alive passing by in front of us.

My daughter and mother-in-law were passengers and thus witnessed the sickening event. We all felt the impact, the ugly thud of a tire passing over a small body. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the still and furry lump in the road, a being that only moments before had been animated with bunny life.

Goddamn it. I did that! Ended a poor rabbit's life because it didn't know any better and ran into the path of an oncoming death machine. Stupid rabbit!

It's too late to do anything about it now, though. I felt the need to validate myself afterward and questioned my daughter, who was sitting in the backseat. Could I have avoided the accident? At first, she was just upset about the bunny being killed and it seemed like she wanted to blame me; but later she blamed the rabbit for its destiny as roadkill.

It's a grim reality we sometimes must face. Things happen that are mostly out of our control and the consequences bring pain into our lives. All three of us experienced the death of the rabbit, but the "smoking gun" was mine because I was driving the vehicle that ran over the unfortunate creature.

What is also unfortunate is referring to this animal as "it" when, in fact, he or she has a gender. That is unfair, and yet who knows whether a boy bunny or a girl bunny died? Will another bunny come along and discover the corpse? Will some other bunny miss the dead bunny, or will the death have no impact on anybody but him or her and the humans who witnessed the death, who were somehow responsible for it?

How does a person process something like this? If I had been on the lookout for an animal in the road, I might have seen it and been able to avoid hitting it. But the thought did not cross my mind and I wonder who is at fault for this failure to recognize the possibility of something like this happening. Despite the nature of the area we were passing through, I was not thinking about a sudden need to swerve, slow down, or come to a stop.

Poor bunny rabbit. I regret hitting him or her, but there is nothing I can do now. RIP. I ended the life of a living creature, a little sweetheart. Somehow, this became my destiny and it makes me sad.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Ghosts That Haunt Me

The thing about Superman is he is a myth to begin with. And with this in mind, it exists in people's minds as a concept and not as a real person. The point of a "super man" is that if such a person did exist, how might our lives be different?

Well, that is a point I think about. My preferences in life tend toward reality, and yet mythology is reality, too. Superman is a fun concept, I reckon. The realm of imagination, of what can be imagined, is itself a mythological reality. Carl Jung touched on the idea with his "collective unconscious" storyline.

Each one of us is capable of imagining Superman. And since he exists only in our imaginations, we each see "him" differently. Some might imagine him as being close to (but not quite) all-wise and all-powerful, semi-godlike. In any case, he is magical with his "super" powers, extraordinary abilities, things nobody living on earth is capable of doing.

Now Clark Kent, that's a guy who seems real. And this is the part of the Superman storyline that draws us into the idea of Superman as just an ordinary guy in disguise. Speaking of "the thing is," the other (or just another) thing is, when a person imagines that another person could come to possess superhuman powers, the realization dawns that people actually do come to possess "superhuman" powers under some conditions, and this has been demonstrated many times in real life situations: saving a trapped child by lifting weight that, under normal conditions, a person could not possibly lift, for example.

I would attribute this to a positive use of the power generated by fear. In this example, the fear is for the child's life, which the rescuer wants to see continued. In other words, in life-or-death situations, fear can instill supernatural power in a motivated person. But Superman's powers go way beyond that which a normal human being is capable.

But wouldn't any properly (or appropriately) motivated "normal" person be capable of developing powers similar to those extraordinary powers displayed when faced with danger? In other words, can fear be transformed to strength in situations that aren't quite as dire as life-or-death situations?

Yes, of course, for this is a basic tool of even the beginning artist.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Charmed Life

From Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, 1605. Act V, Scene 8.

... I bear a charmed life, which must not yield, To one of woman born.

My brother breezed into town last week for a couple of days. We only got to spend a few hours together, but my time with him always leaves me very thoughtful because of the various places we go in conversation. One of the things he said to me this time is that he views our childhood as charmed. "You know, we lived a charmed life," he told me with astonishing authority.

Hey wait. I was there, too. Our lives were far from "charmed." Indeed. He pointed to the fact that we never really lived in any way that could be considered impoverished, in a financial sense. And this part may be true, but I wonder what either one of our parents would say to this "charmed life" theory of his. Our father is no longer living. He was disabled for many years and we lived on my mother's salary as well as on whatever disability payments came in as a result of Dad's illness. Quite frankly, I have many depressing memories of those days. But I kind of get his point, that we never really lacked any material thing we needed. But charmed?

Something about that idea really sticks in my craw. I think of a charmed life as being one in which things have been more or less handed to you, with very little of your own effort involved. A silver spoon kind of existence. Is that a charmed life?

What do you think. What exactly is a charmed life?