Rita on exploring

Saturday, June 6, 2020

5 a.m. Dreams of wandering around UVA hospital complex. Rita there, either dying or anyway there long term. But I don’t find her. Somebody named Randy (I think) finally finds me sitting with some others and brings me dinner (breakfast?), a pancake. It is somehow ceremonious and has been sent by Rita in some way. The mood of the dreams is very reflective, I wandering around noticing whole buildings I hadn’t seen, and new stories being built onto existing buildings. I see how different the feel is when a small college (or hospital) becomes large.

As I get up and put on the coffee, I realize, maybe this is like my dream in December, 2014, and Rita wants us to talk. Miss Rita? Is it so?  

“Mm-hmm. Yes, it is so.”

Very funny, and I recognize the quote from the Longmire books, of course. [One of the characters, Lonnie, was an old Indian who continually made statements, then said, “Mm-hmm. Yes, it is so.”] And somehow I get a sense that this is a connection between us.

Indians, yes, but no point in seeking such connections. The potential for story is so great, they would be good illustrative fables, but would be taken perhaps too literally as biography.

An inappropriate use of new perceptions?

When you are exploring, you may remain oriented and yet in a true sense it may be said that you are lost during that time. Not lost as in divorced from your context, nor in terms of your being in danger. Lost as in, you don’t know where you are yet. An explorer who always knows where he or she is, isn’t exploring, so much as surveying.

Well, I don’t mind being lost, even as a general thing, but I would like to carve out at least some known territory.

Be thoughtful as to what you want, however.

Oh, I hear it. Just as with perception and interpretation, it is with exploration and orientation: You can do both, but not at the same time.

It is merely opportunity costs, as you often say. The more time one spends laying out surveyor’s plats, the less time is available for wandering through unknown woods.

So does this relate to the part of the dream where I was noticing the changes that had happened around me while I was not noticing?

What do you really want? And, not only “which you” but what about the overall game plan?

Are we saying we have life plans, here, and we need to keep them in mind?

No need to get caught up in words, which could happen easily enough. You know – everybody knows – when movement in a certain direction feels “right” and when it feels “wrong” and when it feels neutral. Feelings are the language of the soul, they say. They could as easily say, You can always do better by staying in touch with your non-3D self.

Which has preferences.

Those preferences are usually preferences for how you should be, rather than for what you should be. But they may be experienced as the larger self having a life plan, or may be experienced even as there being an indicated course and any deviation from that course as being error. How people experience is not the same as how it is.

I understand that one, all right.

You should. One thing you have spent time doing is clarifying just that point.

I guess it matters less what a person’s belief system spells out than what it prevents him or her from exploring.

I am smiling. That would be your view of things, yes.

So tell me, old friend, what’s up with us? Are we about to engage in another series of conversations?

That would be telling. But maybe doing again what you have done before would be less satisfying than other things.

Well, I’m open to suggestion.

The reason for writing your memoir of an unusual life is not for others but for yourself, and then if others are interested, so much the better. But you have done your work in public; there is no reason you can’t work in private if it entertains and instructs you.

Things seem to flow better when I have at least an anticipated audience, however small and carefully selected.

If those are the parameters you choose, fine. I merely point out that there would be value in your doing the work of connecting realizations about your life.

That’s sort of what the dream was about, wasn’t it?

Think of how we met at UVA Hospital when Dave was there.

So we did. I wasn’t associating that. I never saw you there as a patient. Your final illness, your coma, took place in your own house.

But your association with university hospitals –

Dave Schlachter in 1969, yes. [My college friend Dave was hospitalized toward the end of our Senior year with a brain tumor, which he died of the following Spring, about 10 months later.] Then Dave Wallis, 30 years later. [Dave Wallis also was hospitalized with a brain tumor, in early 1998, and died at home, ten months later.]

And it is the emotional feel, the connection that will allow other connections, that is to be followed. Chronology and logic would not tie them together, you see. If you in another life were attempting to reconstruct Frank’s life, you might easily feel both these things, and it would be natural to conflate them or to manufacture a narrative to logically connect them, and it would tend to steer you wrong.

I see that clearly, though I can’t say I ever saw it that way before. Maybe I did and have forgotten it, I suppose.

So, this is for you and also will serve as a general statement for those it applies to. If you go exploring “past lives,” hold the string of the narrative loosely. Primarily follow the emotional logic of the life, not trying to deduce it but being sensitive to it, and where emotional threads diverge from logical or chronological ones, follow the emotional threads at least tentatively. Treat lives as dreams, and dreams as dramatizations.

This sort of begs the question of what we’re looking for, doesn’t it?

Indeed it does. You will each be looking for different things, and in different ways.

And I am to go poking around in my life to see what I have missed?

That would be an awfully simplified description. Let’s say, actively working on your memoir would have satisfying results and a satisfying process for you, but there are other things, you know. How long have the guys been prodding you to write a summary of the way you now see life? You could go back to that, a suitable amount of interval having passed.

It sometimes feels like “Do whatever you feel like doing – so long as it is this or this or this.”

Isn’t that what we’ve been describing here, and why?

Not obviously.

Follow your feelings. Your feelings lead you to write and to communicate. Other people’s feelings lead them to other things. If people take the easy way – the path of emotional least resistance, call it – things work out. Or you can take the hard way and do only the things you aren’t impelled to do, but where’s the fun in that? And where is the efficiency, or even the utility?

I have been given a few people who are interested, to ease the isolation, is that it?

You don’t need an answer to that. If you are doing your proper work, materials will always be furnished.

Meant, I realize, for any who read this. Okay, Rita, my personal thanks for this, and that of my friends who will read it. I know better than to ask if we’ll talk again. The answer is usually: It depends.

Because usually, it depends.

Thanks, and till next time if next time arrives.


One thought on “Rita on exploring

  1. Another post that could have been written for me. Last night, as I’m working my way through revisions of the first draft of a novel I’m wanting to finish. I realized I was looking for the “emotional logic,” as the organizing principle for the meaning and purpose of the book. I didn’t call it that–I just followed the protagonist’s progress through the emotional challenges that are her life to make sure I was clear on what truths she was arriving at, because I was arriving at them with her. And you have to “follow your feelings” to do that. And you’ve reminded me I write because it “entertains and instructs” me. I write in isolation, so thanks for the encouragement, whether or not you were aware you were providing it. Reading your blog regularly moves me forward in my understanding of who I am and what I’m doing and why.

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