Friday, October 7, 2011

Family Puzzles

Searching my computer I found a story/nonfiction piece from my fiction writing class that I had actually saved. My brain was apparently working to some extent that semester. I'm not sure I even turned this one in or if I wrote another one. I haven't reread it yet, which is why I don't know if it's fiction--the first paragraph is all real. I might edit in an affirmation after I publish the post. Not sure my opinion on the piece as a whole: as I mentioned, I haven't read it all the way through. Just found it and decided that I should just throw it up here since I've been somewhat absent lately. No worse than usual I guess, but change always has to start somewhere, am I right?

My mother was working on a puzzle when I got home. It seemed an apt metaphor for the season. Thanksgiving, for each of us, triggers an aberration. We try to create a unique list consisting of what we think we should be thankful for. And that is not to say we are not, but rather that thankfulness is not a traditional state. Which is why Thanksgiving exists, isn’t it? Because we don’t wish to be held back by the moments of each day at which we should feel grateful for our lives.

I wonder now if I am being religious; these thoughts sparking in my head like streetlights, leading me down the usual road that I walk while writing. Religion in the sense that I am happy to exist and whether it was maker or molecule I am indebted. Chaos theory or god. These are the sorts of thoughts that take away hours. We attempt to consolidate them. Or perhaps that is just me. My own personal vision of Thanksgiving as a time of reflection, because nothing would get done if I was reflecting constantly.

And I had never been a man for puzzles. Well, I guess you could say I’ve never been a man. But my mind’s never been one for puzzles. But at one point I was able to stare at the image on the top of the box and put down a few pieces in the right places. “Everything in its Right Place” now comes into my head, but namely just the title. Am I thankful for Radiohead? I am thankful for the arts I have enjoyed…

But let’s take a step back now, because perhaps I have misled you. I am simply, in my train of thought, skipping the easy steps to this equation. Imagine my list of Thanksgiving thoughts: they do not truly ever land on family or friendship or life itself, unless I am addressing another. Because these are not questions, they are obvious facts. The inter-commentary of my own thankful list does not dwell on these lines anymore. Is this abnormal? I wonder at times.

When I became an Eagle Scout, at my board of review, I was asked what I would say to the president, if I could speak to him. This was the last year of Bush. I said that I would want to talk about why we were at war. I got told that I needed to get my priorities straight. I don’t bring this up in a negative sense. I wasn’t insulted or taken aback. Because I feel like society has created for itself the idea of the consistent shuffling of priorities. When we are asked about Thanksgiving days and what we are thankful for, we say family, as I believe I’ve noted. And we are. But these are not things we are thankful for solely on Thanksgiving. It simply rises to the surface of the lake of the mind at this point, like some creature of the black lagoon.

I’m not sure what we really want to talk about when we talk about Thanksgiving. But I know it can’t be what we actually do say. Because that never-ending banter comes across as politically correct and heartfelt, but boring. Or perhaps I need to get my priorities straightened. Do they make hair straighteners that have a connector for your priorities?

It was only for about an hour or so. And I’m not even sure if I found that many. Four, five, maybe fifteen pieces for the puzzle. I talked to my mother on the phone the other day and she said she had finished it. And now, looking back on these useless epistemological questions about a holiday that is descended from the myth that we didn’t just kill off the Native Americans, that image is what I guess I am thankful for. The puzzle. We spend our life creating it, and then when it's done, someone comes and breaks it apart, shuffles the pieces together and puts the box back on the shelf. To be reused.

Yeah, it's all pretty much true. "I’m not sure what we really want to talk about when we talk about Thanksgiving" is a joke on Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, itself referenced in Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Some odd sentence constructions here, but the feeling flowing under it and the picture of me it sketches, I like that very much.

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