Saturday, December 15, 2012
I forgive you, Magical Thinking
I forgive you, Magical Thinking, for the creepy way you have of pretending you knew what was happening before I knew what was happening.
I forgive you because I think you are trying to be helpful, but cut out the creepy, would you?
If you want to claim foreknowledge of good things and happy things, I wouldn't mind it so much. Or even if it's just run-of-the-mill news events. Like I don't mind how you've always predicted correctly the winner of our presidential races. One of these times you'll be wrong maybe, but meanwhile you're kind of fun.
But there's something a little gruesome, a little gloating about the way you claim catastrophes as your own. Almost as if you were one of those wackies who call the authorities to admit to crimes you didn't commit.
I've been posting these Forgives the night before usually. But yesterday's I couldn't write until yesterday, when I woke up suddenly with a compulsion to get up and write about the evils done to innocents. I resisted, tidying the kitchen, boiling water, until I could not resist. I had no pleasure in the writing, though, and when the post was done, I sat there, unhappy, feeling a heaviness.
I didn't know -- I wasn't aware of knowing -- how my inadequate words would seem too slight a comment on the day to come. I didn't know that at the same moment that I began to write, on the other side of the continent, yet another evil against innocents began to play itself out. By the time I knew, the news from Newtown was old and grim.
If you're going to come bother me, Magical Thinking, give me more information earlier, give me something to do about it, some way to tug events away from the worst. Give me some way to warn or open an escape. Some way to throw up roadblocks. Don't just come sit on my heart with your heaviness.
Don't come to me the way you did one morning a decade ago, only half-waking me and setting me to snipe and gritch at Fritz with my eyes closed and my head still on the pillow. Sniping at him without any context until he sniped back out of his sleep without waking at all. We both woke later wondering what had happened. What biting bitter wind had blown through our minds, our mouths. It wasn't until we got to our feet and turned on the news that we learned our bitter little dream-quarrel had timed itself exactly to the fall of the Twin Towers. That haunted me. Like I had somehow participated in the hatred that brought so many families down that day That I had lined up on the side of the destroyers that morning.
Don't tell me that you knew my Middlest was going to be hit by a car, that somehow I brought it on by writing a story of a family grieving the death of their middle daughter who is hit by a car. Don't draw connections that have to pass through etheric realms to get there. Not just because it puts me off the writing. Makes me reluctant to let anything happen to my characters I wouldn't want to see happen to my children. And my characters, perverse creatures, are not grateful to be protected. Instead they get bored and slip off somewhere else leaving behind only stand-up cardboard cut-outs in their place.
Magical Thinking, I want to suppose you are some atavistic holdover from the superstitious perilous days where death walked in at any moment. I want to imagine you are some leftover attempt to maintain a sense of control in a frightening world of senseless deaths and illogical violence.
It scares me to think this world is not so much unlike that world as I would like to imagine.
Hear that, Magical Thinking? All that's the chatter of anxiety you bring on.
But still I have to forgive you, because I think you're trying to say that maybe we are all more closely tied together than I have ever imagined, like a tent straining straining after the loose side flapping in the wind after its peg has come unanchored. That maybe it's not just in sci-fi movies that we can feel a great disturbance in the force.