søndag, november 04, 2007
Whale skeletons, tatoos, and general inefficiency
The skeleton dimensions I shall now proceed to set down are copied verbatim from my right arm, where I had them tattooed; as in my wild wanderings at that period, there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics. But as I was crowded for space, and wished the other parts of my body to remain a blank page for a poem I was then composing - at least, what untattooed parts might remain - I did not trouble myself with the odd inches; nor, indeed, should inches at all enter into a congenial admeasurement of the whale.
--Ishmael, about to reveal whale secrets in Moby Dick
This passage both disturbs and enlightens. Disturbs, perhaps only me in my role as commitment-phobe. Imagine, to be so devoted to something that you engrave it permanatly on your physical being. I couldn't do it...which might explain why I don't have any tatoos. Enlightens because there is value in remembering and commemorating whatever it is that is important in our lives, both the sublime poem, and the mundane measurement of a whale skeleton. Or should that have been the other way around?
It's of particular relevance now as so much new is happening in my life, and I find myself facing a future with simply too many roles, both the real and the as yet merely imagined. And maybe I'm not such a commitment-phobe after all, because I simply can't bring myself to de-prioritize anything that has had priority at any time before. Some re-ordering I know will come about just through life's normal course, but others will not.
The problem is that which has been pushed out of the foreseeable future, which is my envisioning of myself as an academic. It's the oldest dream I have, and all I need to do (at least for now) is to get my thoughts together into a proposal...not a finished, polished, brilliant proposal either, mind you, just one that is definite enough that I can send it around and get feedback on it. And yet I find that all the other roles in my life, as employee, friend, girlfriend, family member, future mother, are given priority over just focusing on what exactly I want to research, and then writing it down. Even though the academic role is more important than any of the others (not that the others are not important, just that they don't need the same time, attention, and tenacious no-holds barred fighting to keep them realizable). And to compound it, when I talk about it, it invariably feels like whining. Which is what it is.
So, the question is, is it possible to tell how much space is left for tatoos? And what's the best way to remove, or at least minimize tatoos whose significance is diminished? How far should a dream be pushed before it becomes more burden than motivation? I don't think my dream has become a burden, by the way. But at the rate I'm going, and the guilt I'm producing, it sure seems a bit that way.
*picture taken from http://daverothstravels.blogspot.com/2007/09/ive-done-it.html.*