Tuesday, June 27, 2006

John Lennon, Jorge Luis Borges and me

There is nothing I can write - no possible combination of all the words in the vast vocabulary that is the English language - that hasn't been written before. Nothing I can cook or eat, do or say, or even think. It's not merely that it's all been done, it's that I'm afraid it's all been done by me. By past versions of me. I'm not even the original me.

Jorge Luis Borges reasons that if time is infinite, and the universe is infinite; and the number of possible combinations that result in a person and in a situation they find themselves in is immense, but finite, then one can logically deduce that it all happens more than once.

I will at some point in the past or the future again be born to the same parents. My father will again hold my hand in his as we stroll through the flower market. My mother's husband will teach me how to string beads into necklaces while we sit on a white carpet. My mother will again take me to far away places every summer and gallop off into the desert on a black Arabian horse. I will hate school again, flunk every possible subject again, be betrayed by my best friend, be grossed out by my first kiss, dream of having long hair, again organize my books on the shelves in my room in a certain order that is really a code. A dog will walk into my life and I will call her Joy and I will never love another dog that way again, until it's her again and me again. I will walk up to Luca and tell him that I like his tie and again be perplexed that he does not reply. I will buy a small blue table to work on, do again all the things I swore I'd never do and leave everything for love. I will find my way to California and decide painfully, inexorably, that it is home. Some day, in the future and the past, I will be sitting at this computer alone just like I am now, listening to my husband watch the soccer game downstairs, coming to the realization that there is nothing I can do that can't be done.

Sometimes the thought is freeing. If it's all been done before, then worry is an illusion. There are no mistakes. I'm along for a ride that is the story of my life.

Sometimes the theory renders me powerless. Is time nothing more than a series of concentric circles, a cosmic helix, a spiral we move through again and again, like water draining out of a bathtub? Are we all trapped into learning the same lessons even after we've learned them,
having to tolerate the same people we will never understand, traveling to the same places as if they were new? It's not possible then to truly leave a mark or to do anything of any real consequence.

Or, every infinitesimal decision carries more weight than I ever considered, as I will be condemned to play it out again and again across billions and billions of years.

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