What is Ithaca?

Today I feel like things are falling into place. I am tempted to search through these morning essays to see where I have felt that before – to see how it went all wrong. In some ways, I already know. I know where an aim was slightly off-course, where a goal was masquerading as something other than it was. How beginning with the doing takes on a burden of producing.

It’s like a whack-a-mole game with capitalist values, status, and the quasi-religious imperative of usefulness.

At what point do I give in to my own desires? Keep my head down and work?

I’ve not really given death much thought. In so many ways, that is a good thing. I have lived each day with what it brought. I’m satisfied with that. I haven’t reached any brass rings, but I’ve experienced more than I could have imagined had I tried to map out a life-thus-far.

Those minutes in 2017, in the ambulance when I thought I was dying, I asked myself if I said what needed to be said to everyone I loved. Did they know? Know I loved them. Know I was sorry for those times I was not loving toward them?

That lasted about half an hour. Then the threat passed. The blood began flowing again. And I just thought: all in all, I am doing okay.

But now. This understanding of time from another perspective: I have more questions. More self-serving questions that I am going to allow myself to address. Without guilt.

It turns out, the answers are bringing a kind of weird calmness. No more whack-a-mole.

I’ve said before that I asked all the important questions before the age of twelve. Including “Where does all the garbage go?”. “What happens when the cemeteries are full”. “If there’s a God, then… ”

A pat on the head. A glass of water, and off to bed.

Before the age of twelve, we encourage one another to paint, draw, write, dance. But it seems we do it as though we are facilitating some kind of audition for the future sorting. This is your lane. Stay in it.

The downside of the hive aspect of human eusocial behavior.

Dystopian writers have already thought about this. Stories that speak directly to the fears of teens and adults alike. How am I being culled? Limited. (The Giver, Divergent, etc.)

After twelve, I had found – for whatever reason – that I had no backbone.

“Your work here is derivative”. A pat on the head. Nice try. Find something else. Back to the starting line.

I am reverting to my childhood now. I’m napping even. Shamelessly. Joyfully. Like waking up after having been under a spell. Remembering the original quest.

And I am not going to justify anything anymore.

A woman in an experimental poetry WIP group mentioned Ithaca:

3 Replies to “What is Ithaca?”

  1. I can’t nap. And I think of death constantly. Maybe that’s what drives me now, when I become more and more conscious of time passed. It’s a strange feeling. And oddly comforting in a way.

  2. Oh the parallels not 2 months post stroke. The questions. The memories. The losses. Thank you

    1. Thank you! I have been thinking about your comment a couple of days ago – the way that the stroke has made you see things more slowly – and whether that is just another – maybe truer – perspective. I was thinking about how pigeons see the world very slowly. Maybe we forget in our desire for the “norm” that other perspectives bring us more of the world? I don’t know. I didn’t want to downplay the seriousness of what you are going through. Or imply I even understood a little. I feel privileged that you read and comment here.


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