Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Further proof, as if I needed further proof, that I am a vain man: I received back my Gre Lit scores, and they weren't awful -- not nearly as awful as I imagined they would be -- and suddenly today I'm able to do my work 100 percent better. Not because the decent scores will help me get into the programs I want to get into -- they won't really, as most of the programs I'm applying to don't want to see the Lit test scores anyway -- but just because I've been affirmed in a small way. I feel smart again. My ability to work hard, apparently, stands in a parallel relationship to how special I feel. I want to feel special.

Looking out at the rain hitting the pavement, I'm filled with a desire to describe it in an extraordinary way. I want my descriptions of it to be as extraordinary as Robert Hass' poems felt last night, when I was reading from his new book. My favorite of the poems is called "Consciousness." It makes me love myself again, in the un-vain way-- a love that is born in the overflow of wonder at being alive. A love that wants to describe the rain, but not just to be heard-- instead to share the wonder of it's beauty with someone else. These two impulses, a desire to share in wonder and a desire to be special, have done a confusing little dance within me since I was a boy.

Now, I say: I don't want to feel special. I want to love you. If you find yourself close to me, and I seem awkward, or I seem reserved, or whatever the hell I seem, know that I want to love you. And I don't know how to do it. As I watch people engaged in loving each other every day, badly usually, but then in some lucky moments, spectacularly well, I feel a terrible loneliness and wonderful gladness.

I'm about to turn thirty, and as it seems like a perfectly cliche time to reflect upon my life so far, I'll recall to myself again the fact that 15 years ago I wrote on a little slip of paper that the goal of my life was to share with other people the hope and wonder that are in the world, in existence. I've not escaped the diction of my adolescent self. It's still true: I want to write in a way that makes people feel as wonderstruck as I feel when the rain comes and then goes, making way for a little light, which falls and gives to the shiny asphalt and suburban trees a sudden gladness.

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