Half time: that point in a person’s life when the waste of the past stands sentinel at the gate to the future. I was at half time, burned out by too many crises too far removed from the reason I was born. Overcome by Gordian knots, I decided to put aside philosophy and take a plane back home, a place hardly worthy of a dot on the map, a place of two intersecting highways and one stop sign.
I am convinced we have these layers of maps in our minds: a catalogue of matrices that help us shape past, present and future. We are living map books, grand almanacs of times and places, arguing with competing topographies of persons who remember events differently.
So it is that being a scientist by occupation, I privately worshipped Carl Jung, and began to collect that steadfast oracle of dreams and recovered hopes: the chicken bone. I collected about 10 or so wishbones at a time, amused at the idea that drawing one randomly, and letting forces unseen guide the breaking of fate, I would decide my next arbitrary step in a random universe covered with maps.
Just as I think we carry a book of maps, I think we harbor too our private book of matches. We catalogue our perfect mates, our perfect friends, our perfect teachers, our perfect children, our perfect business partners, and even our perfect selves. Our worlds are cluttered with these libraries of maps and matches.
I packed my maps and matchbooks and headed for the cornfields of Illinois on a cool March morning. The bad news was that I didn’t know just what I was looking for. The good news is that in a village of just over 1000 people, whatever it was would be easy to find.
T.S. Eliot chided us with the words that after all our wanderings, we would arrive where we began, and see it for the first time. He was wrong. The boy who grew up in Smallville, Illinois still lived within the man at half-time. The memory book was accessible, and colored by all the emotions a boy then felt. The difference was that the half-time man and the kick-off kid could now compare a hefty volume of bones, maps, and matches.
The spring in the cold barren fields of Southern Illinois brought back to the half-time man the smell of fresh earth, the chirping of robins, and the first sprouts of green grass. He recalled the feeling of hope and renewal after long days and nights mostly confined to being inside. He remembered especially 12 year old Molly McIntyre, his first love, and the upsurge of fascination that bewildered and delighted him: a longing so sweet that it remained with him even into half time like a sweet fragrance in his memory.
Perhaps it was erotic karma, but he met Kathy that first evening. She was visiting from Texas, to see her aged parents. He searched for the freckles, and found age spots. He looked for the sparkle, and saw a dimming light of unfulfilled dreams. He sought the girlish laughter, but detected a cynical chuckle.
We are after all at end game even at half time.
© 2013 FXP.