25 April 2013


Stabilities, like plateaus, are always easy to recognise when you arrive at them. You don't know you have reached the top until you look up and can see the horizon. sᴇᴇɪɴɢ ɪs ᴋɴᴏᴡɪɴɢ. The call to prayer wakes you — you were sleeping next to your wife, and the rain has cleared. Everything that is normally dirty is suddenly clean. You walk the twenty minutes to the train station and watching the people come in and out of taxis and cars, you recognise stability in the system — that the system is fundamentally stable. The feeling is tangible for a moment. Everything that looked like chaos is profoundly, fundamentally ordered. A complex system.

A complex system: I think of the components that lead to temporary stability, some known, some unknown. Payday: yes. Small successes personally and professionally: yes. Kisses, hugs, parting cheers of Daddy, daddy! Yes.

You also know stability when you imagine the future as progression forward into something new, rather than retreat back to the familiar. When you begin to think of new ideas and new places you might call home rather than the overwhelming desire to go back.

The sense of stability is convergence. It's not just money, or love, or the weather. It's none of them, it's all of them. It's all of them together.
Mia is talking now, stringing together little phrases. If you've had small children, you how liberating this is for both the parents and the child. Vygotsky is right: in the acquisition of language, we internalise reasoning. Suddenly, getting breakfast in the morning is not a series of cries and shouts, but a request made and answered: a process that leads to pride and contentment, rather than frustration. You tell her to dance and she understands, smiles shyly, and swings her arms at her waist.
All this moving together, convergence and divergence. Jorie Graham comments on the process in a poem I suddenly decided to teach in class this last week. Graham, as the narrator, is hanging over a dock railing, watching minnows swim, when she falls into thoughts of the system:
And if I listen now?
Listen, I was not saying anything.
It was only something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.
Yes, this is it.

Everything moves together, but only when we realise it moves together. The rest of the time it is chaos. The world works? This shouldn't surprise me, but it does. Best to pin it down, log it, display it, write about it. My boss reminds me of the moment: this blog, this life, is about the moment. 'Here: never.' Tomorrow will be another day, another depleting bank account, a screaming child still hanging on her mother's breast. But for a moment, this moment, best to look to the horizon and imagine.