|to believe in this living is just a hard way to go
||[Jan. 14th, 2010|07:17 pm]
So I did in fact get Girlfriend in a Coma out of the Mid-Manhattan library and I did in fact reread it. It didn't have much of an effect on me this time around - the story lost plausibility about two-thirds of the way through, and the characters did not engage my sympathies to the extent that they once did.|
Ten years ago, when I was casing The Communities Directory for likely cults/communes, I was terrified of my own lethargy. I was wont to spend entire days in my bedroom, in my mother's apartment, reading books and escaping into sleep. I didn't know what to live for, and I detested the social strictures and bureaucratic tangles I feared might suffocate me. I was afraid there would come a day when I would find myself bereft of the will to rise from bed.
The main characters in Girlfriend in a Coma are wastrels. After being delivered from a fatal sleeping sickness that kills every other human on the planet, the protagonistic group of friends - already dissatisfied with their lives - descend into lackluster misery. They don't cannibalize, or otherwise turn against each other (they don't need to, since there's still more than enough canned food in abandoned supermarkets to go around), but they also don't treat their reprieve as a spiritual kick in the pants, a spur to peer deeply into their lives, circumstances, second chances. At the center of their psyches is a vast gap, an embarrassing emptiness.
As a twenty-two-year-old recent college graduate, I identified with this fictional gang of ne'er-do-wells. My life, like their lives, lacked a backbone.
That, thank god, has changed. I don't claim to have been visited by the Angel Gabriel, or to have seen the face of eternity. I have built a certain steady belief in the worth of living. This world - this world as it is, not this world as we wish it would be - is endlessly fascinating, for all its faults. Beneath the surface of every seemingly monolithic industry - banking, insurance, retail, real estate - is an intricate organism one must live inside for years, if one wishes to gain anything approaching complete understanding. There's healing, drama, heroism, wonder...in the current and the aftermath of earthquake, hurricane, collapse, disaster. Here we are. Here I am. Yesterday I read part of a book on the bitter history of chocolate, and dreamed the name of William Blake. Today I walked 6.2 miles and puzzled over a volume-based pricing scheme for delivering CSA shares. I look with longing towards the blooming future - and, when I remember, treasure the incomparable gift of the ever-regenerating mazes I navigate each day.