1:05 am - 03.11.2008
Sat 3/8/08 (2:01 p.m.)
Towards the end of the trailer for Snow Angels (A movie I’m very interested in seeing), two graphics appear onscreen - “Some will fall”, and “Some will fly” - that for whatever reason, have really captured my imagination (effecting me quite emotionally the first couple times I saw the trailer).
I remember thinking to myself, “Yeah, that’s pretty much life, isn’t it?”. Stuff happens, and you either make the most of it, or you go under. “Survival of the fittest”, or else just “Survival of the lucky”, but a darwinian process of some kind, where only the fittest/luckiest survive.
But that’s not really life, not for the majority - most people don’t “fall” or “fly” when presented with the challenges life offers; they just plod along through whatever-it-is, running out the clock till their time is up. Or run around in circles, until someone - a parent, a president, their “god”, whatever - tells them what to do next.
I think that dichotomy - “Some will fall”/ “Some will fly” - struck such a chord with me because that’s how I’ve thought of my life; I’ve wanted to “fly” before I even had words to express my desire, but instead of “flying”, I’ve felt like some combination of bad luck, bad genes, and bad character hobbled me, leaving me stumbling directly out of the gate, not only unable to “fly”, but barely able to crawl, defeated in life before I ever got started.
But that’s not true.
I imagine the whole idea that “Some will fall” and “Some will fly”, referring to how people get through their lives, whether they fail or are successful, is mostly the stuff of fiction, of tv shows and movies and novels and plays and comic books. Because in fiction, it’s more clear-cut what “falling” and “flying” entail, much less murky than in real life
I’ve thought of myself, most of my life, as having “fallen”, because of what happened to me early on, because of what I haven’t accomplished in life, because of my lifelong loneliness, because of my struggle, a struggle I’ve usually deemed a “failure”, to rise to what I consider a “normal” level of existence (I think one of the most interesting things about how I see myself and my life is that I’ve always aspired to “greatness”, and see great qualities in myself, while in many regards feeling decidedly “sub-normal”, in terms of dealing with the challenges of everyday existence. It often leaves me feeling confused about myself, to say the least).
But “Falling” and “Flying”, in terms of what constitutes a “successful” life versus an “unsuccessful” one, are pretty elusive, relative terms. “Falling”...compared to whom? “Flying”...by whose definition? While there are real life examples of people most of us can agree have “fallen” (Hitler, Manson), or “flown” (Jesus, the Buddha), that leaves a lot of room in the middle for spirited debate.
I’ve thought of myself as being one of the people who have been defeated by life, one of the “fallen”, if you will. But it’s not really true; the “truth”, as they say, “is somewhere in the middle”. As it often is.
It’s hard to say I’ve “Flown” in life, by any stretch of the imagination, at least not in any way I can think to define “Flying”. I’m alone, I have no family, very few friends, and very few concrete accomplishments to speak of.
But I’ve not “Fallen” either.
The comparison has to be made, if it has to be about making comparisons, to other people in similar circumstances. And when I think of my circumstances in life, the people in similar circumstances who “Fall”, who are not successful, are not the people who struggle, who aspire to greatness while struggling to even feel completely human; people who end up in the foster care system, sexually/physically/verbally abused, who spend their childhoods feeling unwanted and unloved, more often than not end up on drugs, in prison, in institutions, hurting themselves and hurting others because they don’t know another way, because they’re hurt and angry and empty and don’t know what to do with those feelings.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of a line from the blues song “Dead Presidents” - “Now I ain’t broke...but I’m badly bent...” - because that’s really more descriptive of what it’s like to be me, maybe more descriptive for most of us of what it’s like to be human, than any romantic notion of “Falling” (cause there is a certain “romance” in the idea of self-destruction) or “Flying” (Which, again, is more a romantic notion - “I’ll show all those people who didn’t treat me well, who didn’t love me as much as they should have, that I’m somebody...” - than something that is of much use in “real life”).
I’m not on drugs. I’m not in an institution. I’m not in prison. I haven’t killed myself, or anyone else. I’ve hurt people, through ignorance and selfishness, but I try not to, and I certainly don’t think I’m entitled to hurt people because of anything that happened to me.
I’m a deeply flawed person, but I wouldn’t define myself as a bad person. And I haven’t given up on the idea of being a better person. I’m not sure I understand love, or know how to give or receive it, but I haven’t given up hope that I can learn. And unlikely as it sometimes seems, I haven’t given up hope that I’ll have opportunities to learn in the future.
And it’s clear, from what I’m doing out here in Hollywood, that I haven’t given up on the idea of realizing a dream, of doing something that speaks to me, something I feel is a special thing I have to offer, and something beyond what a “normal” person (Whoever that might be) could hope to accomplish.
I haven’t “Fallen”.
I’m not “Flying”.
I’m trying to take the circumstances of my life and make something of them. Trying to make the most of the hand I’ve been dealt (And, often, the hand I’ve dealt myself). Trying to be happy, trying to be of some use - to myself, and to others - and still trying to figure out “what it’s all about”.
It’s not the stuff of movies and novels and tv shows and comic books. It’s life. It’s not “Falling” or “Flying” (And it’s not “plodding along” or “wondering around aimlessly until some authority outside yourself tells you what to do”). It’s moving forward, trying to progress, to work it out, to laugh and love and do something worthwhile and be decent.
And it’s enough.
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