Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Plan B

Water Sculpture from Shinichi Maruyama on Vimeo.

Shinichi Maruyama's art. It reminds me of the Buddhist principal that everything is constantly and inevitably changing. “Thus the question is whether we are to accept change passively and be swept away by it or whether we are to take the lead and create positive changes on our own initiative. While conservatism and self-protection might be likened to winter, night, and death, the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize ideals evokes images of spring, morning, and birth.” Daisaku Ikeda

Although I haven't quite learned how to do this in practice, I try to remind myself that life is an ever-fleeting experience; events, people, emotions, etc. are always, through intent or wholly on accident, shaping you. And rather than savor or resist those changes, I want to embrace them and open myself up for the next. Where I haven't learned the finer art of this mantra is how to honor and/or reflect on the impressions left by those experiences.

My second thought bubble from Maruyama's art is how it reminded me of a This American Life program I listened to about life's Plan B. The program was all about how most people have resorted to Plans B, C, D--and that life almost never works out how you intended it to. When I was 8, and inundated with life plan ideas from Mother Kim, I thought I'd meet Mr. Husband in college, wedding bells at 24, Baby No. 1 at 26, No.'s 2 and 3 at 28 (conveniently they were twins), and live happily ever after with my BMW SUV and 5-bedroom red brick Colonial. With black shutters. Now all I can think about my future is that if I'm still single by 44, I'm going to register for my Cougar badge.

I think I'm on the verge of Plan B. I'm on the verge of a lot of Plan B's. But I hope that Plan A will find a way. I really hope so.

From This American Life:

"It’s not just human beings who fail to achieve the fate that they thought that Fate had in store for them. Most everything does; most everything eventually ends up somewhere that it was not designed to go--serving a purpose that it was not meant for--even if that purpose was just landfill. We end our program today with this brief inventory from J. Robert Lennon of inanimate objects who have left their planet behind and now inhabit a permanent Plan B."

The Accursed Items:
  • A bottle of pain reliever, brought along on a business trip, that proves, at the moment it is most needed, to be filled not with pain reliever, but with buttons.
  • Sneakers, hanging from the power line, with one half of a boy's broken glasses stuffed into each toe.
  • A Minnie Mouse doll you found by the roadside, and brought home, intending to run it through the washer, and give it to your infant son, but which looked no less forlorn after washing, and was abandoned on a basement shelf, only to be found by your son eight years later, and mistaken for a once-loved toy that he himself had forsaken, leading to his first real experience of guilt and shame.
  • Love letters, seized by federal agents in an unsuccessful drug raid, tested in a lab for traces of cocaine, exhaustively read for references to drug contacts, sealed in a labeled plastic bag, and packed along with a plush bear holding a plastic red heart, into an unlabeled brown cardboard box, itself, loaded into a truck with hundreds of similar boxes, when the police headquarters was moved, and forever lost.
  • Nude polaroids of a fifteen-year-old female cousin.
  • An icicle, preserved in the freezer by a child, which, when discovered months later, is thought to be evidence of a problem with the appliance, leading to a costly and inconclusive diagnostic exam by a repairman.
  • A gay porno magazine, thrown onto a ball field from a car window, and perused with great interest by the adolescent members of both teams, two of whom meet in the woods some weeks later, to reproduce the tableaus they have seen, leading to a gradual realization that they are in fact gay, an incident, the memory of which causes one of the two, when he is well into a life that is disappointing emotionally, professionally, and sexually, to fling a gay porno magazine out his car window, as he passes an occupied ball field, on his way to what will be an unsuccessful job interview.
  • A biscuit, crushed into the slush of a Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot.
  • The orange tobbaggan, whisking her to her death.
  • A resume, that portrays its author as utterly unqualified for the position for which she has applied, but which, because it smells good, leads its reader, a desperate, experientially undernourished middle-manager at an internet-based retail corporation, to invite her into the office for an interview, which, although further portrays the applicant's complete unsuitability for the job, provides the middle-manager with a physical impression to complement the good smell, which impression is intensely exciting, forcing him to hire her as a supplemental secretary, much to the bafflement, chagrin, and eventual disgust of his extent secretary, who, during her employer's lunch hour, removes the resume in question from his files, and personally delivers it to the CEO, and is with the CEO when he barges into the middle-manager's office, and finds the unsuitable supplemental secretary standing beside him, crying silently with her dress half-off, while he sits in his reclining office chair, sweating profusely, and holding a plastic letter opener in a threatening manner.
  • The houseplant, that will not die.
  • Fifty pairs of old blue jeans, found at second-hand clothing stores, and brought at great expense, on a trip to eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics, where rumor had it, old blue jeans could be sold for a lot of money, but where this was no longer true, as so many previous visitors had heard the same rumor, and done the same thing, creating a glut of old blue jeans, which were not even all that stylish there anymore, and causing the entire trip to be ruined by the necessity of hauling around these huge suitcases full of other people's jeans, which smelled kind of bad, as if those other people were currently wearing them.
  • The urine sample, produced for the cancelled doctors appointment, and forgotten in the back of the fridge.
  • My eyeglasses, covered with a thickening layer of dust that I never seem to notice, and simply adjust to, until, at last, I clean them out of habit, and discover a new world, sharp and full of detail, whose novelty and clarity I forget about completely within fifteen minutes.
  • Your signature, rendered illegible by disease.

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