I am not wise


I’m not.

Sometimes I think I am, and then something happens and I realise that I most categorically, definitively, am not.

Sometimes I think I have got it all going on. I surprise myself with supreme grown-upness, just sometimes. And sometimes for months on end I am a picture of profundity and calm.

When actually, all along, I am not wise.

I know a lot of things, but the more I know the more I know I don’t know, as my mother would say, and as my mother’s mother said before her.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I had major deja vu upon cutting my hand open a short while back. How I was teleported back through the years – exactly the same person, doing exactly the same thing, thinking in exactly the same way. I was not wise then, and I am not wise now.

I read something today. Writing is the urge to communicate and be alone at the same time. That has nothing to do with wisdom, as such, but it seemed to go some way towards explaining the strange mental quandary that writing creates.

Today I had a conversation with a friend about his impervious waistcoat. We threw some words around. Like invincible. We could have also gone further and used words like infallible and impregnable, but we had work to get back to.

I wish I had an impervious waistcoat. But I am not impervious, or infallible, or wise.

Don’t think I am being self-deprecating, or fishing for a compliment to make myself feel better. For starters, I don’t feel particularly bad about it (just a fraction contemplative in a wan, shadowy-eyed, Monday-eveningish kind of way). 

And, more to the point, may I be so blunt as to point out that you are not impervious, or infallible or wise either. Oh, unless you are Plato, or Confucius, or some kind of figment of your own imagination. Which – may I also bring to your attention – you are truly not.

So that makes us more or less the same, you and me (give or take all the oceans of difference and strangeness and whatever else that may come between us, should we ever actually come together in the first place).

Now I have consumed a touch too much Tiramisu and we are hoping for rain. It could go either way (the rain, I mean), so we’re not holding our breaths or anything.

There were some other things from the past week… I can’t remember them all now. I was in Auckland. I had a notebook with me, but all I wrote in it was I am not wise. Hence the title of this entry.

Thing # 1:

I cling to books because I cling to life.

We have the upstairs book collection and the downstairs book collection. Bedroom books are the ones that threaten to topple over on me and smother me as I sleep. I live to tell the tale, though.

At any given time I will always have about 22 x more books in my bedside pile than I could possibly read. I will attempt to read somewhere between three and five books simultaneously, poorly, and with the attention span of a sugar-rushing kid, and I will invariably fail (just as I am not wise) to see the finish line with approximately 66.6% of them.

The other day, Simon finished with a book I had also finished with (or dipped in and out of). He said shall I take this downstairs? And a sense of panic and finality came over me.

I should point out that our downstairs bookshelves are stacked three deep (I blame Simon’s vinyl collection for spreading) and I cant find anything any more.

The exact thought that came to me was: I may die and never have a chance to read this book again. This is the last time I will ever read – or even lay my hands on – this book.

I’m not sure where the thought came from, but it knocked me for six, as my father might say. And then I regained my composure and went to bed, clinging to a new book (for as long as it will have me).

The book was Jenny Bornholdt’s The Rocky Shore, in case you were wondering.

I also just finished reading Paul Auster’s Invisible. I even got up before work one day to finish it. I never get up before anything to finish anything, so let that be an indication of how much I enjoyed it.

I had some other thoughts, over the last week, but they’ll keep (as my father would also say… actually that’s not true – he usually says you’ll keep as a response to some impertinence).

Frankie now has eyes on her (even if they are sympathetic ones) and all of a sudden she has become a different beast, and so have I. More scrutinised, less free.

I need an impervious waistcoat. I need some pearls of wisdom.


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