Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Observing Gorillas, Observing Poems

On Saturday, I watched a PBS show about gorillas. They interviewed one researcher whose wife had spent over 1,000 hours observing gorillas.

I immediately felt inadequate, even though I did a quick calculation and determined that I had spent over 1,000 hours observing poems (by observing, I included reading poetry, writing poems, and revising poems--I didn't count typing poems up/entering poems into the computer and sending poems out). I thought about gorillas and poems--could I develop differences between poems in the wild and poems in captivity? There's a poem in here somewhere I suspect, but it has yet to come. If it inspires you, swell.

I also thought about all the other areas of my life where I've spent 1,000 hours: grading essays (which requires some semblance of reading them) came immediately to mind. I've spent over 1,000 hours in classes that I've taken and more than that in classes that I teach. I've probably spent 1,000 hours jogging. But do I look like an Olympic athlete? Sadly no--because I also have spent over 1,000 hours cooking and baking.

Somehow, none of these activities sounds as impressive as spending 1,000 hours observing wildlife, especially wildlife that may soon be extinct.

I wonder if that researcher would feel the same: she thinks about the observations she's made in the wildernesses she's camped in, and she wishes she had been writing poems and creating book length manuscripts.

Maybe we all wish for skills and talents that others have. Or maybe that neurosis is uniquely mine.

1 comment:

Chum said...

Definitely not your neurosis alone. Only someone living an unexamined life could claim to have no doubts or thoughts of "what if." I'm trying to let thoughts of Bush go (and when he's tried for war crimes, I will).