Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Story of My Life

Books and movies are dangerous. I spent much of my childhood immersed in books. Nine Princes in Amber. Dragonriders of Pern. Tolkein. Heinlein. Dune. Mary Renault. World upon world where stories unfolded with heroic protagonists. Plot was inevitable and characters had purpose. Their fate mattered, yet didn't matter. I cared for them and their situations -- I cried and raged and came up for air expecting to be, and sometimes acting like I was, in that world -- but they weren't real.

The experience left me feeling like my own life was a story. I would walk to school with a sense that I was 6 feet up and behind myself, watching myself walk to school, watching my life unfold. Nothing bad really happened in my life (though my parents' divorce threw me for a loop, and I cried when my first hamster died). I feel that anything bad that does happen to me is subject to revision; if not that, it's happening in a story and doesn't really matter.

Yet it is my life.

The whole thing has left me somewhat ill-equipped to deal with life. Eternally optimistic and trusting. Uncommitted to much. Lacking the passion and drive that come from a feeling of limits and the approach of death. Working on software as if I've got all the time in the world (have I mentioned that, until quite recently, I've been working on my 5th platform for mobile applications?). Some recent health issues left me panic-stricken at night, sure that my pounding heart was going to lead to, what is it they say on "Grey's Anatomy"? "v-tach"? At other times I go for weeks without taking my blood pressure, sure that things will be fine, because so far they always have been, and if they're not, I'll just edit the story. I'm afraid I'm going to wake up when I'm 80 and say to myself, wait! you mean that was all real? I don't get to try it another way?

But life is not fiction. Life has limits. Time goes forward. There is no second edition.

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