12 December 2011

I win

Last night I got my medicine bag.

I wasn't expecting to, actually: I had made what I thought was a low-ball bid on a bag that looks to be about two and half years old. There was no shipping cost on it, so I thought it would surely go up. I went to sleep with two and half hours left and I was the high bidder, but I was at my limit, so I assumed that it would go over at the end. It didn't. I woke up and I had won.

I've been awfully materialistic the last three weeks about this thing: I'm sorry about that, I really am. Watch me make this about something bigger, about growing up and getting wiser and being strong and not just about me getting something I want-stroke-need. Watch me blow it out of proportion.

I've spent all day, every day for the last three plus years thinking about heavy things, professionally and personally. My twenty plus year faith under the microscope, if I'm honest about what I've been doing. I do that all day, trying to make something out of nothing with so little to show for it at this point (this will change by this time next year). And then I've gone home and done my best to care for the wife and kids, but I'm so bad at it: every time I think I have gotten better, I get angry, I make one of my kids cry. They go to bed and 10-15 days out of the month, I go back to work: marking essays or my thesis. It's this never-ending cycle of Maoist self criticism. Ein Hungerk√ľnstler: the hunger artist.

Thinking about this bag has given me this little oasis in my life. Something to think about that has had no consequence: everything else in my life has been full of consequences. I said to my colleague who's just about to finish her PhD this week: no one knows what you've done in the last three years except you. Only you know how hard it was. How strong you are, how you've overcome what you've overcome. This bag, to me, embodies that: it's a symbol, a metaphor for strength. Saddleback bags are heavy and get better as they scar and mature. A five year-old Saddleback bag has a story: it's not slick or elegant, but it doesn't need to be because it came by its maturity honestly. The marks and scars, the ageing of the leather, make it better and better and better.

I bought this bag with my own money: nobody paid for it for me (a metaphor--don't miss the metaphor). Like my tattoo, Resurgam: it's not perfect, but it's imperfection makes it... just that. It makes it.

I'm such an evangelist at heart.

The bag looks to be in good shape, the colour I wanted, a colour they don't actually offer any more. The good thing, I realised about a bag that's a couple of years old (in addition to it being about 60% of the new cost), is that you can see how the leather is going to age. What it's going to look like in the long term. If I were to get a new one, there's some mystery about what it will look like in a couple of years (although probably never bad). No question about that now with an older bag. It has suede lining rather than pigskin, making it softer inside, from what I can tell. You can tell it's a bit older based on where the front rivets are and the front buckle, but still: 100 year warranty (minus 2-3 years).

So I have been successful in acquiring something that I will use everyday for... well, awhile. Pending actually seeing the bag, I am pretty damn excited. I'll put the pictures of it up when I get it (the auction ones were lousy): I might be able to get it before Christmas, but not likely. Probably the 28th or 29th. That's okay. I have the rest of my life.

I promise to stop talking about the bag eventually, don't worry. Making everything material in my life a metaphor for everything immaterial? Well, that is probably not ever going to change. All experience is, after all, embodied.