Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Personal WOO WOO

I'm going Personal WOO WOO on y'all for a moment. When I started this blog, I decided not to decide what it was going to be about in particular, on the theory that the more options I had for stuff to write about, the more I'd write.

Today, class, I'd like to talk about my theory of the personal mythology. And while you may think that someone else made up this theory first, no. It was me.

My archetypical personal mythology is the one about the blade of grass. One of a handful of memories I have from the house I lived in before age 5 is that my dad and my older brother and I were roughhousing outside and I swallowed a piece of grass. And ever thereafter, when I get out of breath, the piece of grass stabs me a little bit in the back of the throat in an unpleasant way. I really did believe this for years, way past the age when I should have realized it made no sense, because I had gotten so used to thinking 'oh, there's that blade of grass in my throat again.'

Another, of more recent vintage, is that my critical period for language learning overlapped with my high school German classes, in which I did awesome. I developed this theory when I started taking Georgian in college and it was completely impossible and made me cry a lot. (Obviously, my age was the only difference.)
Not really saying anything with this photo. Just, how awesome are those pants + glasses?! Source.
Lately I have been thinking about a different genre: personal mythologies about the abstract future. Places and things that inspire me to ponder my forward-looking personal mythologies include: libraries (in the abstract future I will read all the things), non-rainy days in the city (in the abstract future I will spend hours walking outside each day), NYT real estate and home and garden tours (in the abstract future I will live in spacious bright rooms with classy but cozy mid-century furniture), smart and funny people online (in the abstract future I will be a smart and funny person online), pictures on Pinterest or in Country Magazine when my grandma sends clippings of cozy indoor winter morning scenes (in the abstract future I will be the kind of person who gets up early, sips cocoa, looks out the window at deer, and wears slippers), et cetera et cetera ad nauseum.

They're funny to me because when I catch myself entertaining them, I generally can't tell if they're realistic or not. I think it's partly because I'm sort of attached to them as personal mythologies and if all of them turned out not to be personal mythologies but instead what my life was actually like, I think I would feel their loss. So I have an incentive to not dream up personal mythologies about the abstract future that are so realistic they could conceivably come really true.

Tell me, do you have personal mythologies? Backward-facing or forward-facing ones?


  1. When Paul and I moved to the west coast, it took five days in the car---and we had a GREAT TIME. So, ever since then, I've been thinking that in the abstract future we will take all kinds of car trips. But then recently we were in the car for about an hour and a half and he was just one-word-answer killing all my conversation topics (and I had, like, TEN, and not just "What shoes should I wear with such-and-such a dress?" but all over the place with politics and ethics and news and the kids and our future and home improvements), and I wondered if what I've been assuming would happen is even a sensible assumption.

  2. Jessica, loved your blog today! Having lived 57 years on the planet, I certainly realize that some of mythologies will never come to pass. But on the other hand, some very unexpected, extraordinary adventures have taken place on my journey on the planet. These were unexpected gifts of great fantasy played out in real life. They were things that I never dreamed of, but were beautiful gifts of rich beauty to enjoy in my memories forever.

    So even though I still have a couple of fantasy dreams (being locked in the library for several months with someone just bringing me food; living in a rustic cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking a stream with no houses or people within sight), I also look forward to more of the unexpected, wondrous mythologies that just "happen" along the way!