Friday, February 24, 2012

Empirical evidence would suggest that the sharks have the right idea, that it's either keep swimming or drown. It's certainly always been simpler to keep a boy in every port, learning to meringue in the very late hours in San Francisco and waking up to songs in French in New York, a standing invitation to drink too much and talk nonsense about physics in warmer climates and colder ones. I am usually at my most charming when I'm leaving anyway; it's only when I stay still that I drown. The first lesson should probably be to stay away from the small or brackish ponds, but I just don't know how the sharks feel about that. Just keep swimming, wherever I am.

Or so it seems. Stereotypically, most of my friends that encourage this line of thinking are male, and last night I had dinner with one of them. By the middle of our third drink he was passed out cold at the table. I'm not totally sure what had happened aside from a drinking problem that has clearly gotten worse, but I needed the waiter to help me wrestle him to a cab. Afterward I sat at the bar, shaken and embarrassed, thinking that perhaps I shouldn't be so cavalier about whose advice I listen to just because it matches my mood. I needed a reminder to listen to my better instincts instead of my worst ones, the ones that lean toward self-preservation rather than the easiest roads.

You remember when I found the tiny owl standing on a rat? At the time I had no idea who would win. Could the owl carry off such a large rat? Would the rat struggle free and run off? I never did find out what happened, and no subsequent trip up that hill revealed any clues--no rat bones, no dead rat, no sign of a struggle. My feeling about the outcome tends to change, depending on when I feel that the rat always wins or the owl does, if I think it's better to be the predator or the prey. Right now I think that what might drown me is the weight of all these nature metaphors, that empirical evidence is suggesting that what I need is a break from making plans and taking advice and looking for reasons. Just for a minute.

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