Imagine if your life resembled a sprawling mansion whose walls were mostly missing, encased in a giant monolith of rusty scaffolding. Some of us wouldn’t have to imagine that hard. Irrational as it might seem, I see myself as the general contractor of such a property; I’m the one who gets blamed for delays in its completion. The insufferable tenants (who represent that part of me that wonders if and when I will ever get it together) regularly call to cuss me out. At least the architect understands; he stands in the unfinished doorway always ready to offer a hand.
The lack of progress in my life often leaves me immobile. A man stands and watches a road accident unfold, watches the paramedics arrive and whisk off the unfortunate, and even watches the tow truck bring the melodrama to its conclusion. Why? Because he can’t help himself. He freezes in place, unable to tear himself away, overwhelmed with shame for his complacency. If only he had done something…
I care about myself, self-absorbed as that might sound. One day, I might teach the world to sing, once I learn to teach and sing, of course. In a month, I turn forty-six. From high school to now I have worked exactly fifty-three jobs. Yes, I might do a lot of things if I could just make up my mind. Papa used to say, “So much talent, so little everything else.” Sure, I care about myself well enough to speak the truth about myself in love, anyways.
You should not think that all this self-deprecation makes me a poster boy for pity. Most honest people have an irritable voice moaning within them like some deliverer of doom. And most people, to varying degrees, have learned how to gag their inner villain. I give it the microphone because that is what a writer does. We all need reminding that one day the mansion will reach completion as long as we know how to tie down and muzzle the ornery dog running loose in the backyard.