Nonfiction is a fiction of itself. A selective, highly subjective and artful truth telling. “Truth” is the slipperiest and most crafty performance art of them all. Consciously or otherwise, much of the implacable, improperly fitted, or outright contradictory elements of our experiences are neatly excised from the edges to present a more shapely picture. This becomes our Story. We become attached to our Story, edit and refine it, reshape and reduce it. Later, this is how we will remember it: as we imagined it to be. Incidentally, the same can be said of our selves.
All this is to say that in my previous post, Amulets Against the Bear, I failed to mention that I purchased a 30 dollar stuffed fox from the Monkey Business Toys shop on the main street of Burnsville. Even though we barely had enough money and were living in a shack. Even though my credit was already shit. Even though I was 28 years old and hadn’t slept with a stuffed animal since I was 9.
I named him Glitter Lickskillet, and he was mine. I groomed his furs, fluffed his tail, and called him Fox-Fox for short. In the few intermittent minutes of the night that I actually slept, I slept with him in my arms.
To say that this is embarrassing is certainly underplaying the moment. But I do believe that hugging the fox instead of the metal bat or the knives is what kept me human through the hunting.
Cognitive dissonance is what we call the moments in which we find ourselves doing, thinking, or feeling something we never imagined we could- essentially, the moments where we realize that the “self” is something transitory and illusory, as much production as wishful attachment.
I say all this to sound smart when I say, I never imagined that I would be hunted by a bear while hugging an overpriced stuffed fox in a shack on the side of a mountain.
I have long made it an imperative of mine to push the boundaries of my own comfort zone- the boundaries of my understanding, beliefs, assumptions, self. Nothing scares me more than stasis, stagnation. Nothing excites me more than learning something new. I don’t want to explore just the surface of a thing, but also the guts and bones and machinations of it, its web and wish and weave. Stretch and pressure, after all, are the workings of birth- the minute tears of tissue, the shedding of blood and faith. This is not often a safe or comfortable way of living, but it is mine.
Sometimes I am my own new learning. That in this skin I never cease to surprise myself is how I know I’m alive. In that spirit I embrace Fox-Fox, although (thank fuck) I don’t need him anymore.