Saturday, February 23, 2008

Conversations With My Brother

I. My brother's life is changing rather suddenly -- he's taken a teaching job at Harvard and is moving east -- and he blogged about it nicely here. And for some reason i was inspired, again, to add my own meandering thoughts to his essay on change.

I ended with this paragraph:
At some imperceptible moment, we leaped. Inexplicable for its randomness, really. And once again, now, it happens to us both. Your job offer, my stroke… here were are at that open doorway where for no good reason other than reason itself, we take a step. I don’t really know what’s next from here at the beach, but if history is any indication, i’m a year or so behind you, watching what you do. Encouraged and inspired. In some way, that’s what older brothers are good for. “Go have fun.” That’s what you advised me when I took the Bertolucci job in London. “Just go with no preconceived ideas, and see where it leads you.”

What is going on in the world? but the spirit of change is everywhere i look (in that way that once you buy a volkswagon, you see them constantly). I want to embrace this entropy and not fight it, but it so goes against my nature. Where am i being inertial? what am i most afraid of?

II. Ever since college, and my intro course on primate biology, I learned about old world monkeys and new world monkeys and this idea of "brachiation". Brachiation refers to the way these monkeys swing around in trees. Old world monkeys, like baboons, (and also apes like chimps) "semi-brachiate" which means that when they swing on vines, they don't let go of the vine they have in hand until they have a solid grip on the next vine. Like Tarzan, they swing through the jungle.

Many new world monkeys, like gibbons, are true brachiators. They swing on a vine, then let go and FLY THROUGH THE AIR until they reach another vine, grabbing it and continuing along. They move very fast. And yes, they occasionally miss completely and fall from the canopy and hit the ground. True brachiators and semi-brachiators. I used to look at people who dated in these classes -- some would date a loser, and stay with him until someone better came along (semi-brachiator); but some were bolder, smarter, and would date until it was time to let go, and then be SINGLE for a period of time, before finding a new love interest. These were the true brachiators of the relationship world and i always admired them. This metaphor holds true for life as well. One needs to know when it is time to let go of whatever vine you are holding, and fly through the air untethered, before reaching the next vine.

My stroke was cheating, really. But the key is sensing when the universe is telling you to let go. And being able to surf the forces of the universe for maximum fun, experience, profit, love, whatever, is an artform. This, I think, is my work.

1 comment:

Natalie Harris said...

It's ALL of our work...and when we read your words,it helps us to remember. Thank you.