Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Fly

A fly got into my room yesterday.  He was a sizable little creature, with large wings and red eyes.  When I first saw him whizzing around and buzzing loudly I of course was annoyed, like most people I am not a fan of the creepy little insect, and I started to wonder how I could best dispose of the pest.  I thought about the cat I once had who seemed to specialize in flying insects.  Give that cat a mouse and he would look at you like you were nuts, but get a moth in the room and that cat was instantly on the hunt.  But alas, Tyndale (for that was the cat's name) has long been dead, and I had to find some other way of dealing with my uninvited guest, the fly.

Not owning a fly swatter, and unable to think of any other way of removing the problem, I soon chose to ignore him, keeping my hallway door open in the hopes that he would find his way out into the hall and not return.

But he stayed, all afternoon I heard him buzzing against my windows.  And suddenly I found that my heart had begun to reach out to the helpless little creature.  You see, I have three floor length windows in my room and through those windows could be seen a sunny world filled with lush trees and grass.  The fly could see where he belonged, he could see it, but for some reason he could not reach it.  I heard his frustrated buzzing and the desperate way in which he threw himself against the panes of glass again and again.  Every once in a while he would take a break from his endeavors and fly around my head as if he was begging for my assistance.  I would get up and open the door that led out to the porch, but my movement would startle him and he would resume his fruitless attack against the window pane.

After the sun went down I found him buzzing around one of the small lamps in my room.  I took the lamp and held it outside the door leading into the hallway, he followed the light of course and once he was out I quickly closed the door behind him.  At that point I thought that was the end of it, that he would find his way out the front door and that would be the end of it.

But the next day, today, the fly returned to my room.  Again I heard him desperately trying to find a way to break through the invisible barrier that barred him from his world.  Only today his buzzing was less forceful, broken up with moments of silence.  I could tell he was getting tired, and I knew that if he didn't find a way out he would die in here.

At one point I saw the fly crawling around on my floor, I decided to try and capture the him.  So I got a glass and a piece of card, I thought i would trap him under the glass, slide the card under, and then I could free him into the wild.  But while the fly was obviously tired, he wasn't tired enough to let me get anywhere near him, and all my efforts seemed only to spur him on in trying to get out of my windows, which let light in but was not going to let anything out.  I tried opening the porch door for him and attempted to waft him outside, but I think all that only served to scare the poor, tired creature further.

I really felt sorry for the little guy by this time.  He had made his way into a world in which he didn't belong.  And by the time he realized his mistake it was too late.

We are not unlike this fly sometimes.  We wander away from where we need to be, and when we try to get back to where we belong we cannot seem to get there.  So often we can see where we need to be so clearly, but these invisible barriers get in our way.  And little do we know that doors have opened up behind us, little do we know that there are forces trying to help us out, if only we would stay still, if only we would stop and look around, face our fears.  Sometimes we have to fly into the darkness to truly make it back into the sunlight.

The buzzing has finally stopped completely.  I want to believe that at some point he finally followed me out the door and is buzzing around outside, free.  This is what I want to believe, but part of me knows that when I inspect my windowsills or look behind my dresser, I will find him, my little fly with large wings and red eyes, wasted away by his futile efforts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The small-talk algorithm

I am excruciatingly bad at small-talk.  This is something that has plagued me my entire life.  If you put me down in the middle of a large crowd of people (really any group of 5 or more) I start to feel like a deer in headlights.  Now I will say that this has gotten better over time, but not by much.

I think the problem is that I don't know what people talk about in those situations.  Sure there are the questions you ask a person upon first meeting them: How was your day?  Did you do anything interesting? etc. but that only goes so far and honestly it is usually pretty boring stuff.  So what do people talk about?  I know guys (and some girls) like to talk about sports, and that is great, I get that.  While I may know nothing about most sporting events, it is something people are excited about, something they truly enjoy, I get that.
The thing is, I like listening to people talk about their passions, I get excited for them, but most of the chatter that I hear at social events are not about people's passions, at least I don't think so.

I force myself to go to these sorts of gatherings because I know I have much to learn from them.  And I often find myself sitting in the midst of these groups of people trying to figure it all out and usually failing.  There is no pattern that I can discern, it is just little conversations none of which consist of very much, but all together take up an evening.  But how do you have these little conversations, that is what i can't seem to figure out.

I am not saying that every conversation has to be profound, far from it.  I have conversations about nothing all the time, but they only seem to happen with certain people, and I enjoy them, I don't even understand the stuff I hear at these parties.

There are times at parties that I feel so alien to what is going on that I start to feel as if I am some sort of physicist or mathematician trying to solve some deep scientific mystery.