On a Fragmented Existence
11:35 PM 12/9/01
Some of my friends have followed different paths and I seldom meet them. Our lives now look like forking roads or separated streams. Some of them never really shared my path, but fortunately became friends anyway. I see them even less. Some of my guests here, I have never seen and maybe never will. Some are very faint acquaintances, almost fleeting like dreams. And I am grateful that at least through letters (electronic and otherwise), text messages, telephone, and modern conveniences such as this, I get to "see" them, and they get to "meet" me.
I receive a shred of their sentiments, a peek at their hearts, and a piece of their minds. With only the benefit of words, I construct them, like eager clay, in my playful mind. And with childlike abandon, I recreate them. Of course, I scold myself too, so that some form of prudence and respect will guide the creative process.
That is how I come to know them. In me a child creates with her open and impressionable mind. And a parent trims it all down and fashions it into something comprehensible with her great narrow mind obsessed with focus and function.
I come to know them through the material they give me and the act of construing the material into some shapely mass that will somehow represent them. And I fervently hope, somehow resemble them.
The days are fast. Neighbors change their faces too frequently. Some of those lives are lived a breath away form mine. But I never see them. And I may never see those who will replace them tomorrow.
Our "true" neighbors are those we associate and communicate constantly with. And some of them live one too many miles away, over lakes, rivers, and seas, on one of the myriad sides of the world. They live closer to us. Some of them, I haven't seen. Human connection, the idea that served as a plaything for poets of the past and advertisers of the present, has come to take on so many new forms.
More than ever, it seems, it is more difficult to be an island.
Or is that so? So many people know so many little things about a single person. A lot of people know a bit about me, but no one really knows me. And I'm not even playing enigmatic. So many people I know are like this too. Too a certain circle of friends, I am a blabbermouth, while some people are shocked to hear me speak more than three sentences! Some guys think I am principled. If they asked my drinking buddies for confirmation, they would say, "duh? no!" then, "hic."
To the greater part of humanity, I am a statistic, just another voice in the infernal din that is the world. It would take nothing less than a God to hear the great sound of the whole thing and still distinguish my paltry squeak.
Maybe, caught and defined within this great host of interconnections, I am, in truth, unknown. I lead so many lives, wear so many faces, use so many different voices so naturally. I cannot even call it lying. Because I am every one of these lives.
Postmodernists call it fragmentation. Most of us do not really just possess a life but a myriad of fragmented lives. If I were a woman, I could be mother, sister, wife, diarist, activist, bussinesswoman, trainor, and my ailing mother's nurse all in one day. And then another set of fragments tomorrow.
Fragmented, they say, to make semantic room for the phenomenon that some of these fragments contradict others. I may be a man with professed feminism in writing but a patriarch at home and a chauvinist in the bar. And maybe even effeminate in the closet!
Or I could be a wife-battering surgeon who consummately practices my religion. I could also be very cruel person and still cry my heart out watching sad movies.
If all these hold water, then it is true that no man is an island. But she can possibly be an archipelago.