japonisme: 11/28/10 - 12/5/10

28 November 2010

no definitive why

Adolescent white pelicans squawk, rustle, flap their wings,
lift off in a ragged spiral at imaginary danger.
What danger on this island in the middle
of Marble Lake? They’re off to feel
the lift of wind under their iridescent wings,
because they were born to fly,
because they have nothing else to do,
because wind and water are their elements,
their Bach, their Homer, Shakespeare,
and Spielberg. They wheel over the lake,
the little farms, the tourist village with their camera eyes.

In autumn something urges
them toward Texas marshes. They follow
their appetites and instincts, unlike the small beetles
creeping along geometric roads, going toward small boxes,
toward lives as narrow or as wide as the pond,
as glistening or as gray as the sky.
They do not know why. They fly, they fly.

Ann Struthers
Copyright ©2009 by Ann Struthers

and so the question is why. everything, why? let us talk, then, of the seemingly knowable whys. why did i do that? why did he? why did she? why did they? perhaps even narrower than that; perhaps only i.

some answers are easy: i put on my gloves because my hands were cold. that's simple enough, isn't it? maybe this: i went to the store to buy milk because i had run out. (already for this i can think of a dozen other comments that would be necessary for you to fully understand my motivations, but i don't think they're important. yet who am i to judge?)

who am i to judge? that's the steam behind this train of thought. because as i thought about it i realized that the reasons for all motivation are unknowable. not by you, not by me, not by your mother who thinks she knows everything, not by that guy with all those books.

in psych 101 they teach about richard who, when he was in the school library, stretched his leg. it was cramped, what can i say? but martin, who was walking by, tripped on the out-stretched leg. both martin and marcy, who was watching, were sure richard had done it on purpose.

but what about the bigger things? alice marries lou. alice is sure it's because she's in love. lou isn't sure what love is but is delighted that now he will be able to fuck alice just about as frequently as he wants. both of their mothers think she married him for his money, and he married her for her looks.

her best friend credited it to his honesty and ability to hang shelves, and his best friend knew that he had finally found someone who actually thought he was smart. and her therapist knew that he was just like her father. or maybe pheromones.

when it came time to divorce, alice asked herself, why did i ever marry lou? she never even considered that possibly he smelled just like kindergarten. or that he looked like the salesman who sold her her lucky scarf. or chocolate.

we do this all the time, why did i.....? and we think we can figure it out. we can't.

i have spent my entire life, as, perhaps, have many of you, wondering why. this and that. and it suddenly just occurred to me that i would never find out. there would never be definitive answers; there was never a way to find an absolute, positive, unquestionable, undebatable why.

we don't know why. we fly. we fly.

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