There Is No Infinite Violin

We live like stumbling drunks, always falling down again on the unforgiving concrete of our own self-judgment. We are walls to ourselves, barriers; we are the rock and we are the hard place. We refuse to forgive ourselves for our failings, no matter how small. Then fences proliferate, and with fences, separation, and with separation, misery, misery.

Have you failed? Is there something you cannot do or should have done? A memory that makes you wince? We berate ourselves constantly. Talk about intimate violence. We mistreat our bodies, our hearts and our souls.

I come up over and over again on the hard edge of transsexualism, that bizarre state of defiance and perpetual surprise. Shame, shame, shame, that endless well of pain rising up once more and once more still. Shame rears its head and I become like a trapped animal chewing off its own tail. But unlike that wild creature, I have escaped my cage, haven’t I? Why do I gnaw at the stump and prevent the wound from closing?

Perhaps I am still imprisoned after all. I escaped my external trap of body and role. But inside, I remain my own jailer, and I am cruel. Cowering in fear of others’ judgment and rejection, I am crueler to myself than anyone else has ever been.

Twisted fate, sweet absurdity, I am a testament to the failure of all language and the limits of all forms. I must become beautiful to myself, scabs, scars and all of it. I am tiny, flawed, and terrified. I drink from the cup of the Infinite, yet I am forgetful. I am broken, miniscule, crooked–and perfect.

To be is to be radically limited. From the Endless Endless we are hewed into minute fragments. We feel small, abandoned, and horribly alone. But our condition is no tragedy. The One is endless, complete, unchanging. We are finite, fragmented, in constant flux. The One in its deepest majesty is complete already beyond understanding, yet longs, mysteriously, to crackle into countless forms. If we were unlimited, we would be God.

Every form, because it is one thing, is not a trillion others. Of all possible creations, we are that we are. On this level of reality, limitation is the precursor of beauty.

Radical limitation: wood and fiber brutally cut out of the heart of the Earth and meticulously fastened together in an exact formation. It’s mostly not: not a ray of light nor a star nor stardust, not a hummingbird, not a submarine. And yet the violin, that profoundly constrained and specific form, is a thing of sweetness and purity, a gift to the world. There is no infinite violin, for it would be no violin at all. There is only the tiny, limited, finite instrument, one thing and not countless others. All that it is results from the most severe limitations.

We are not worthwhile despite our limitations. Insofar as we exist in the world, we are our limitations. And we are wonderful.

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4 comments

  1. Clare Flourish

    This is the main thing my blog is about, the journey to self-acceptance: starting with seeing myself as both male and female, and this is a gift, progressing through even if autogynephilia is true, it is still OK to be like this (though I don’t think it is), now on accepting my femininity. I watched a gay man this week tortured by Christian belief that he was wrong before God, and even though he said “I defy him” he was still ensnared by echoes of those beliefs in himself, or he would call them merely silly. Seeing my good qualities as weak and bad tortured me.

  2. Lesboi

    Your writing is so beautiful and deep. I’ve needed to read this several times, not to understand it, but to really digest all of the pieces to its whole. Self love and acceptance is so hard for so many people. Maybe all people struggle with this. Most don’t take the time to think about it enough and come through the other side to true love and acceptance for the unique beauty of our individual creation. We’re like snowflakes, finger prints, all unique and none the same, yet so similar at times on so many levels that we connect and feel familiar. Your opening paragraph reminded me so much of how I have treated myself for most of my life. Your posts sometimes feel like a cool cleansing shower to me. You get all the dirt off and leave my soul cleansed and fresh. Thank you.

  3. Cai

    My past failures, my past as a slacking drifter, my inability to seek closure, are all what drive me now as I am getting back on my feet. Because I can’t go back and ask for forgiveness or make amends, i just pay it forward. That’s why I’m extra-sympathetic to the mom who hopes it’s okay for a cup with hot water to warm up some formula, because I gave up custody of my kid long ago. It’s because I am extra nice to customers, because I was a punk back in the day and never cared if I did piss them off. it’s because I sometimes skip classes to help out at work, because I overvalued a few classes at the expense of life and teamwork. And I work extra hard at my job because I cluld have made something of myself when I was younger bur walked from a full ride scholarship once before but was unable to secure financing ever since.

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