Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ascending to mediocre heights

Across the street, in the rising sun, brilliant drops of water light up along the Japanese maple leaves. The bright perfection of the scene is enough to stop any mouth, and yet here I sit, writing.

I guess if anyone hangs around long enough they are bound to feel the cloying hug of mediocrity. Like the Supreme Court justice's assessment of pornography, mediocrity is hard to pin down: "I may not know what it is, but I know it when I see it," the judge remarked about the habits of the scantily clad.

And it is tiring and cranky-making...the swell of conforming voices speaking of virtue or excellence or ... well, whatever is not supposed to be mediocre and yet slips inevitably and inescapably into some saccharine, group-hug pool. From spiritual endeavor to scrambled eggs, where is the bright twinkle hanging from a Japanese maple leaf?

Maybe it's just something everyone needs and deserves -- a chance to ascend to mediocre heights. But lord it can be tiring, whether within or without, as, one after another, the latest sequined bit of philosophy or food or clothing or position takes to the stage like some inept fifth-grader who is much loved by his or her parents.

And the question has to be asked: If this be judged mediocre, with what certainty do we clothe the next item in excellence? And with that question, we're off to the races anew, parsing with mediocre insistence the sentences of an excellent life. You can sort of see why people long for a 'simple life,' one full of serene water and silence and comforting pines, and yet there will always be the odd cigarette butt floating down some distant gutter or some 12th Avenue hooker leaning through the window of the businessman's car and asking, "Goin' out, honey?"

Somehow, there is an imperative to break free of our own mediocrities, our own shiny excellence.

For my purposes, the twinkling of the droplets among the Japanese maple leaves is a start.

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