There is something in this speech by Ursula Le Guin that compels me. There is something in me that is repelled by parts of it, ignores parts of it, and skips parts of it. It is strange and foreign and I can't grasp most of it, and that's how my brain is managing to read this and not get overwhelmed with the rewiring it would take to grok it more. But it is fascinating, and it is turning in the back of my mind. The thoughts that have formed into words have fallen into two sentences:
- It's more than about being male or female; I see the thing she is describing as being correlated with gender, but not... defined by it, or tied to it; the... I can't articulate what it is right now, only what it is not quite.
- I do not speak that language.
I understand parts of it, though. Or at least parts of it speak to me.
Being human isn't something people can bring off alone; we need other people in order to be people. We need one another.
I need to listen in immersion in order to have any hope of fluency. Where do I go? One of the benefits of travel is that I've gotten to stay with friends and their families, see how their households work, how they go about their lives, how they interact with each other. How they live. What they talk about over dinner. What they order, how they eat, how they talk with their kids, their wife, their husband, how they keep their house. It's... exposure. Exposure to possibilities I hadn't really seen before, of how a human being can be. The more I see, the more I realize, more deeply each time, how much it is I haven't seen, haven't even imagined.
This has to be enough right now. This is something I have to keep on spiral-learning. This is something I'll keep on sucking less at over time. The right now has to be okay at the same time as the tension for it should be better in the future keeps on pulling. I need both, not just the latter.
Le Guin also wrote a pillow-book for cats.
Today I ran around Karlie's backyard with two giant dogs in a leaf fight with her two young sons. I ended up muddy and out of breath and thoroughly delighted. I am grateful for the borrowed moments that I have with homes and families, because something like this may never actually be mine.
There are things in life that are heartbreakingly wonderful. For me, I'd describe that emotion as the one I get when I'm listening to a concert, and there's a violin solo, and the soloist is playing brilliantly, and the melody climbs up, and it's gorgeous, and it keeps on climbing up until it fades out dancing somewhere you can't go. You look at the faces of the people around you and they're absolutely rapt - and you know that there's beauty there and that you'll never hear it. But you're experiencing it too, by being there among people who can. Just in a different way.
Sometimes, fragments of books will get stuck in my mind.
"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life...to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." --Henry David Thoreau