June 28, 2017 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on June 27, 2018

A crisp, clear, beautiful sunny morning. Who would believe it? Yesterday, as I went to pick up W. at the station, the sky just opened and dumped a deluge on us. Got soaked merely by going from car-on-street to front-door. And then back again, as I had lost my phone in the car during the scramble to make my driest exit. Thunder, lightning, and some rain continued all evening.

The trash maples obscuring my view are getting taller and wider. The obscuring force is with them. They’re a symptom of my inability to ask for what I need, to get along with people on my terms. I can change this. A different sort of person – R., my house’s previous owner, for one – would never have let it get this far. He would have been on our neighbor’s doorstep from the moment they moved in to assert his right – in the friendliest possible terms – to cut down the neighbor’s trees. I feel, too, that I have or should have that right (they are trash trees, self-seeded, not planted, and they will grow to ridiculous heights and eventually cause ridiculous damage to my house, his house, our houses: they are in the wrong place). But unlike R., I’m almost loathe to claim it. What am I afraid of? I recently talked to the new young owner, “over the fence,” as he and his father were taking a stab at taming his backyard. I think he’s on board with me whacking the trees, although it’s all still very amorphous.

Clarity. Defining desires might mean running into a few more disappointments, but it might mean getting a clearer sense of what I actually want, too. Defining desire – in practice, on the ground – is a matter of praxis. It’s like any kind of ism in that sense: socialism, communism, capitalism, all the political isms, and now throw in the religious ones, too. They’re all just one person’s desire, who manages to convince, through persuasion or force, that his desire should be the desire of everyone else, too. Why do I have such difficulty asserting my puny desires when others think nothing of enslaving millions to theirs?

The other main problem, on a personal level, is that once you stop practicing you forget how to tune in to your desires. You drift. Or maybe you bide your time. You stop acting, action. This is happening, it’s real, and I have to get back on track. It starts with the small things, but eventually those pesky whirligigs have turned into full-sized thirty- to fifty-foot trees. And then your problem is suddenly [sic!] expensive. Now it’s no longer a question of lone me climbing the fence with a hacksaw. Now it’s a chainsaw job, a wood chipper job, a haulage job, lots of muscle. And I have no army of acolytes to carry out my ism for free, so I will have to pay.

But I guess a deeper question might be: why am I so shy about assertion (sometimes, anyway)? It’s an inborn trait (shyness + introversion), I’m sure, but it seems unnaturally amplified as if by some deeper, possibly repeated trauma. Too much neglect as a child, coupled with too austere and abusive ministrations whenever attention did arrive. I run from attention. Even now, as I think about publishing blog posts again, one eye open, one half-closed, too, I think, “What if I’m noticed?”


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