Tuesday, December 02, 2008

a slightly scattered post about birthdays and bobcats

Today is my birthday. I'm twenty-seven years old, which is amazing and slightly alarming but not too bad. Last night, as a goodbye to my mid-twenties, I stayed home and read some Gary Snyder (which is so much better than I even remembered and also makes me feel vindicated in my love of walking) and made some surprisingly satisfying and delicious tomato soup. It was a lovely evening.
I don't have anything profound to say about getting older, although I think I have some thoughts hovering just below the surface of words. Mostly this birthday is just making me realize even more fully that I've finally found a niche here in Chicago, ironic in light of the fact that I am already looking ahead to Denver. But I'm having a birthday dinner at a sushi restaurant tonight and at least thirteen people are coming, which is shocking. A year ago, that would never, ever have happened. There are old friends, new friends, people I met on the internet, exes, cooking buddies, music friends, and co-workers, all coming together in the same place because I exist. And for the first time in a few years, I have actual plans for the future, and I think that at least some of them might actually come to fruition. I've been stuck for all this time, and now there is just so much flow. I feel like I'm finally headed towards myself, towards the way I'd like to be actually living my life. Fulfillment, if that's not too cheesy.
But lest I forget my place in the scheme of things or my animal-ness (and frankly, because I just really liked this quote), here's some more Gary Snyder to welcome me to my next year:
"The body does not require the intercession of some conscious intellect to make it breathe, to keep the heart beating. It is to a great extent self-regulating, it is a life of its own. Sensation and perception do not exactly come from outside, and the unremitting thought and image-flow are not exactly inside. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us. There are more things in mind, in the imagination, than "you" can keep track of--thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden. The depths of mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches, but the bobcat that roams from dream to dream.The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies a very tiny territory, a little cubicle somewhere near the gate, keeping track of some of what goes in and out (and sometimes making expansionistic plots), and the rest takes care of itself. The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild."
Gary Snyder, The Etiquette of Freedom from The Practice of the Wild
This is what I want: to have a full human life and to never forget that bobcat. In the same essay, Snyder writes "[Mountaineering] take[s] practice, which calls for a certain amount of self-abnegation, and intuition, which takes emptying of yourself." By walking, by giving ourselves up to what we are doing and how we are moving through the world, we come closer to everything outside of ourselves and perhaps allow the line between mind and body to blur. That is why I'm moving away from a place which suddenly has become home. I want to be both full and empty.


erica said...

it's awesome to see what parts of that book speak o different people at different moments! excellent quote--and happy birthday!

Rosiecat said...

I love this line: "I feel like I'm finally headed towards myself." That's the same way I feel about growing older and more comfortable in my own skin.

Happy Birthday, Ammie! I'm looking forward to celebrating with you tonight.