19 January, 2008

no. 12: the need to flee

I don't know if other people get this, or if it is, truly the curse of a commitment-phobe, but every now and again, I have this overpowering urge to leave, to just get out, to up and go. I suppose it hits mostly when my responsibilities get the best of me, or when I'm overwhelmed with a certain sense of ennui, almost as if I've run into the doldrums and want out, at any cost. I feel as though I have panthers caged inside of me, pacing, urging me to let them out, urging me to get myself out. And if I don't do it soon, those panthers are going to pace themselves right out of existence. Or, more matter-of-factly, they are going to pace themselves into butter.

Okay, I'm mixing metaphors, and imagery in my head... So, as a child I was exposed to the kinds of stories children of the 40s and early 50s were exposed to. Credit my grandparents for that, and no, I thankfully didn't develop any of the nasty prejudices present in a lot of the children's literature of those days. But, I've been wrestling with an image in my head for the last while, trying to piece out what exactly it is and where it came from... thus the glory of the internet: one does searches. So, the 1939 Merrie Melodies cartoon A Day At The Zoo provides me with my image of pacing panthers... amazing how accurate the cage:animal ratio is in that clip to how I'm feeling these days, and the story of Little Black Sambo (please mind the horrid computerized piano music, there's a 'pause' button at the bottom of the page) provides the pacing animals turning into butter... hence the combination.

And it is thusly that I feel: as though, if I don't get out soon, there will be nothing left of me to get out. But the question remains, where is it that I should go, and what is it I am trying to get out of/away from?

I am getting better (I think) at trying to deal with some of this. I actually do get out - weather permitting, one would be foolish to set afoot now in the -24C windchill and seemingly perpetual darkness - and try to vent my... urges. But it is difficult. Winter weather makes it that much more challenging to sort through the caged panther mentality because we really are caged panthers, all of us. There is nowhere to go but our homes, or places of work or commerce. Everywhere you can go has some sort of implication associated with it, whether that of work, or domesticity or purchase obligation. The summer allows one to languish, and flee at all hours, comfortably, to a place of no particular predisposition, since the entire outdoor world is suddenly available. No such luck in winter. I went for a walk the other night, for reasons of at least getting the panthers some air and not just sitting and growling, turning closer and closer to butter. But, alas, winter is so much more confining, even if the atmospheric temperature is obliging enough to allow one to wander at 11pm with a down vest, light toque, a few sweaters and some knit mittens. There is nowhere to go. The sidewalks can be treacherous, even under the best conditions, forget near-melting temperatures, and thusly the roads are off-limit since cars need all the room available for their own purposes. And so, I tried a trail, figuring it was a little more out of the way, and cars couldn't careen off and hit me. But that too became treacherous, under-maintained, sloped and too isolated to assuage thoughts of angry mothers, even if the silence did me some good. So I walked, and so I got followed by a not-so-happy dog who barked and barked. But that didn't bother me so much. He stood his ground so long as I stood mine and kept my face towards him. Though the panthers weren't too pleased, and wished further to leave and avoid struggle. Cages often make one feel vulnerable despite having strength on your side.

the moon

So, the walk did me some good, staring down a dog, staring down the river valley, feeling as though the moon was watching me through her cloaked, cloudy hiding place, and getting enveloped in swiftly falling snow. I love the sense of silence and stillness imparted upon me when I stargaze (or, on more cloudy nights, moongaze). Winter nights are perfect for such ventures, too, since the sky, ever black, is home to the bastions of cold nights: Sirius and Orion, my winter touchstones. And seeking Mars in their realms this last while has been nearly meditative for me, if only it wasn't so otherworldly cold right now, I'd be out there scanning for their mythic presence as a form of reassurance. Perhaps reassurance partly because they are still there and I am still able to see them as the traverse the skies above us, and partly because Orion seems to be making a second home on my arm, in various slowly developing moles, my skin is producing the famed hunter in melanic effigy; he really just needs a right leg and bow, as well as the sure-to-be-following dog-star, Sirius. What can I say, but it makes me feel connected, somehow, though I'll never truly understand why a constellation is being replicated on my upper arm. Perhaps nature isn't as random and chaotic as we all assume (or maybe chaos isn't as random as we assume).

But my attempts to convene with our stellar deities hasn't removed my urge to flee. It's such a base instinct in me right now, it takes much (aside from the c-c-c-cold weather) effort to curtail any fleeing actions. Perhaps I should let it work in me as it would for a while and see where it leads. Maybe, just maybe, this need to flee isn't about physically removing myself from this place, but changing this place into somewhere I want to be. Though, fat chance of that happening. Maybe I should concentrate my efforts on making it easier to leave when the weather and circumstances make such an endeavour more enticing. Yes, maybe I should do that: prepare myself to pack up and leave. And no, not actually pack, just make it a lot easier to do so. Clutter is as much a cage as anything else out there. We shall see, perhaps there's hope yet for these panthers.

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