22 July 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

Picture yourself standing at the edge of a canyon. Where you want to be is standing on the opposite edge of that canyon, but here you are on the wrong side. When you look down, it's so far down that you cannot see the bottom. You imagine that from the bottom, you cannot see the top.

"You can't get there from here," says a voice, quietly. 

So you ask yourself, what if I had a jetpack? Then it would be easy. And you set off in search of a jetpack. Or some rope. or a pole vault. Or any number of things that have the potential to get you to the other side of that canyon. You discover, hopefully quickly, that none of the quick easy solutions actually fucking work.

There is one way to get to the other side of the canyon, but you cannot go straight there. You first have to figure out how to get to the bottom of the canyon-- that act alone will take most of your energy. You may get scraped, bruised, stung and poked along the way. Eventually, though, as long as you keep going downwards, you'll get to the bottom.

Now you're at the bottom. As low as you can be. Life has gone from being merely frustrating to just being the suck. You actually have three choices. One and two, following the canyon to the right or to the left, may produce interesting results. At the end of the detour(s) you're still at the bottom of the canyon looking up. It's a long way up, it's a steep climb, you have no climbing gear. So, my friend, you're stuck.

"Maybe I can just survive here for a while, maybe forever," you say to yourself.

Then you start digging in. The basics: food, clothing, and shelter. You're wearing clothes, so that's covered for now. Shelter, maybe you get lucky and find a cave or an overhang to hide under when it rains. Food... well, there's fish in the river and there have to be critters around that I can catch and cook. Eventually you reach a balance where you're eating enough critters and plants that you're still alive.

Every day, you look at the wall of the canyon, the one where the top is where you want to be.
At first, you look at it every day. Then, as time goes on, you stop paying attention to the canyon wall and you just accept it. The wall looks back you all day, every day, not caring if you notice it or not.

One day, you think about that voice you heard, before you came down into the canyon.

"You can't get there from here."

Hmm. From where I was, I couldn't get directly there-- the canyon was too wide. But that was then, and this is here. So... can I get there from here?

And so it goes...


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