I think about grids, about living on them, about living off them, and about the Taoist notion that there is no paradox. (A copy of the Tao Te Ching would be handy here for a brief quote, but alas, I've given away every copy I've ever purchased. I'm sure I should get another, if only to have it at the ready to pass on yet again.) Here are the grids I'm thinking about: city streets, life plans, connectivity to electricity and water, and connection to western capitalist life in general. I'll just stick with the first two for now lest I get especially long winded, but remind me, dear reader, to address the others at some later time.
Here's one of the primary things I love about cities: they are largely laid out as grids. By orienting myself to a few major streets I can secondarily orient myself to the four major directions on a compass and, even with only a vague concept of where I'm going in relation to where I am, set off confidently in a direction. If you told me to meet you at 23rd and Tasker I definitely would not have any concept of the specific distance from where I'm sitting right now but I could get there without pausing to consult a map.
If, on the other hand, you told me you were anywhere in Fishtown I would envision myself panicking at a series of five way intersections of streets that run with no particular regard for cardinal direction. Even worse is being somewhere that order is typically expected and then removing it. To wit, nothing freaks me out faster than Passyunk Ave; it runs through the grid and, if it at least did so on a 45 degree angle I could (maybe) handle it. It doesn't and I can't.
Life is invariably more complicated than traffic and road design, and I grew up in Jersey's circles and jughandles so that's saying something about life. Unlike my walks through the city, I prefer my walk through life to be without such a rigid path. To continue the city-walk-as-life metaphor this is what it would look like for me: meandering into random homes and buidlings to take in the architecture. Taking up residence for a month or a year if there were people there with interesting things to teach me. If buildings didn't look interesting enough to enter and the block seemed to walk around, I might scale them just for a lark. Why not?
Anytime I've tried to live my life on a logical grid I get drawn off into some more interesting cu-de-sac or labryinth or wooded path instead. Instead of trying to find a role model who could show me what it looked like to be an artist in a sustainible way, I tried my parent's theory on going to college to get a degree that paid. The big compromise was going for bio/secondary ed so that I could have a job that allowed me three months off to write. They weren't happy that I was going to enter such a low paying profession (never mind that my dad is a techer) but it was better than going for English or even Enlish/educations since science and math teachers were and probably are in higher demand.
As a result I never finished school because I showed up to classes that I hated and I failed them. I did, however, get consistently high grades in courses such as Contemporary Moral Issues, Art History of Southesat Asia, Global Women Writers and Women and Health: Power Politics and Change. I love learning for the sake of learning and I love the intersections I find in seeminly unrelated subjects. I like looking at veganism through the lens of radical feminist theory and I the Tao Te Ching really helped me understand nutrition, politics, yoga and quantum physics. I could get a degree where each class logically followed the next and the right series of degree(s), internships and certifications yielded a predictable and profitable career. I'm glad that lots of people do. I don't want to, and I've stopped trying. First of all, none of the destinations seem all that appealing to me. Secondly, as mentioned in my first post on transit, I think it's all in the journey anyway and that every destination is really just a pit stop, at least for me. I'll keep on keeping on with my bumbling life path, looking for the transcendtal connection betwen baseball, the Bronte sisters and Panck's constant.
What I'm learning is to meld the two ways of being. I am walking boldly forward without any idea as to where that will take me. I will not stop to jusitfy working 16 hour days on film sets with a burrito for payment or tell you how the networking I do there will eventually get me paid. I don't know how it will. It might or might not. I don't know and I don't care. What I know is that I feel more alive when I'm around the energy of creation that at any other time. I do not think that getting a degree in art history would be a waste of time if I passed up a steady museum job to be a yoga instructor and freelance photographer anyway. Just because I'm smart enough to get a degree and use it doesn't mean I should. I'm going places I love and that doesn't need to satisfy andybody's value system but my own. I can be happy for you on the grid as long as you can be happy for me meadering through corn fields and meadows.