Mother is not my mother. She is the mother of my best friend in high school, and she became one of the highest ranking women in her church. Not just in California, but nationwide. So I had a long talk with her the other night.
She's retired and lives in Washington DC, and today she will have gone to the funeral of Dorothy Height, whom I don't really know. She is running a small program for black boys in the District. She is quite and accomplished woman. I would probably like to have a correspondence with her, but I'm not sure it will yield what I'm trying to learn. Speaking to her helped me understand that. My desire is unusual. I'm going to have to find somebody else. Still, getting it out there helped me understand more of what I want to know, which is exactly how tightly wrapped things are. I think the answer is that they are not - except where they are which is fewer places than one would think.
The older I get, the more I think that perhaps Baldwin's warning is unavoidable. Baldwin warned that the price of being a professional, or mastering anything, is that you learn the locations of the compromises that invalidate the entire enterprise. You realize where things are finessed and how flimsy the excuses are after all. I think of this in terms of the social implications of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem. Any human endeavor cannot be effective and principled at the same time. So we talked about Church and State. Canon Law and Law.
Mother came genuinely from an Old School family and they were the class people I associated with and considered myself at one with. I forgot about Mother that she studied economics. I forgot that she knew Don Dyer who was the first black partner in Coopers and Lybrand. Just like I forgot that Dyer was a role model for me. Just as we all forget all sorts of things - or put them out of our minds. But I remember that she gave it up to become a priest back when such things were considered highly unusual and controversial, like black partners at the big accounting firms. It's never right to take such efforts for granted, but we owe it to ourselves to take such dreams for granted. We never had any right not to die trying. It was never a gift, and it still isn't.
Today I see her defined by a struggle, the dimensions of which I do not quite fully appreciate. In the Church are politics I cannot see. Where I imagine a platonic world of theology are likely manifest corruptions and frailties. They don't like women bishops. There's always that 'they' and they are everywhere. I saved us from going down the rabbit hole of gay marriage. It is a conversation I'm needing to have with somebody know might better understand, and care to understand where I'm coming from and where I might be going. And so I'll search for that. Mother is rightfully tired, and so retired.
I don't know why my hunger and thirst pushes me in this way. Even though I don't want to be, I should be more practical. Instead I cannot focus on what's in front of me. I write instead, and I live here in this abstract theoretical world of morals and logic and thought. And people are all just people trying to get along, and get me to go along too. Work and manners are quid pro quo. I can deal with that. I do. I make my living. But I have been too many places, I have lived too long. I have heard too many jokes and eaten too many lobsters. I must go towards a unified source of thought and spirit that doesn't keep multiplying in front of me on tangents that are missing the big picture. There's not enough time.
I'm trying not to be distracted by life.
My daughter can do her back handspring. She will either make the Varsity Cheer squad or be a Captain on the JVs. She busted a 3.6 this quarter and got of 90% on both her science and match midterms. She's not scientific or mathic, but she's disciplined to the work. She has learned how to learn. I stopped writing to tell her how wonderful that is. But at some point we all have to try to stop transcending and being platonic. The value of life is life, not our abstractions of it. Sometimes my brain hates my life, but I'm doing ok today.