I was born and grew up in southern California, in a mostly dysfunctional family (though I have known many people who maintain that “dysfunctional family” is a redundant phrase) to which I felt, from the very beginning, no connection. The fact that my own early memories fade off into nothingness the further back in time I try to remember has always seemed of some significance to me. There’s something strange and mysterious about it, even though I realize now that this must actually be the norm of human experience. Nobody can remember everything all the way back to their birth, can they? In looking back and trying to trace the whole strange arc of my life, something that I do more and more these days as I stubbornly persist in trying to make sense of it all, I try to draw in my mind some kind of continuous arc though all my experience that I can point to and call “me.” In my mind I see this arc fading into an insubstantial distant past. I don’t see any demarcation to it, no point I can intuit where and when my self began.

The fact that I am able to visualize this suggests to me that I must have come into being in just such a way, i.e. coalescing gradually, somehow fading into existence from out of the dry air and blue sky of southern California and the sunshine and the distant mountains. That I felt, from the beginning, absolutely at a loss and devoid of any sense of connection to others seems to imply that my self, my identity, did not originate with anyone else, not even my family, but came about somehow else, from something of much larger scope. From something indistinct and wild. From the beginning I was not so much an individual as I was a mysterious indistinct process, little by little drawing on the primal elements of the world around me to create substance and specificity and locality, gradually becoming focused into a point of energy, a point that became a person. Nowadays it actually gives me a sense of peace and satisfaction to think of my life beginning in this strange way, being born from everything there was, from a world unbounded in space or time.

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