Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Time of Quiet

I'm heading for a time of quiet,
When my restlessness is passed.
And I can lie down on my blanket
And release my fists at last.

When I can't sleep, I listen to Quiet by Paul Simon.  It always calms me down, reminds me to let go of my stress and restlessness.  Recently, as I lay awake in the dark listening to this soothing song, I was struck by a few of the lyrics I had never paid much attention to before:

And when they say
That you're not good enough
Well, the answer is
You're not.

But who are they
And what is this
That eats at what you've got?

Paul, you've got something there.  I suppose a big part of becoming an adult is realizing, when they say you're not good enough, the answer is: you're not.  We go through our lives being told "You can be anything you want."  We are always told of our boundless potential.  But, in the real world, there are boundaries that we may not cross.  It doesn't have to be based in reality.  You might be the best actor who has ever lived, but if you don't fit Hollywood's mold, you're just not good enough.  We march into the world, and it promptly tells us just how wrong we have been for assuming boundless potential.  "There are boundaries," it sneers, "that you just can't cross."

And we listen.  This is what Paul opened my eyes to.  We listen.  My professor tells me I'm not suited for scholarship, or my band mates tell me I'm not cut out to be a musician,  the publisher turns down my book, the newspaper refuses my photos, I just can't seem to pass this one exam, I can't dance.  But who are they to say?  And what is this, what is this that eats at what we've got?  Why does it matter that I am not good enough for some people?  It matters because I believe it matters.  If my standards are set by the world, and then I fall short, then I will never release my fists.  I will always be fighting against the simple truth:  I'm not good enough.

But it isn't true, doesn't have to bring me down!  Who cares if Hollywood doesn't want me?  Who cares if I can't make it in politics?  Who cares if the world never sees me as I truly am?  We are social creatures, and we must function in society, but if we let our own self-worth be determined by the standards of others, we will always fail.

Who are they?  And what is this, that eats at what you've got?

I'm heading for a time of  solitude
Of peace without illusions.
Where the perfect circle marries all
Beginnings and conclusions.