I just watched "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," and as after many other movies/books/songs, I am left with a sense of neat satisfaction in the unity of the whole thing. With works of art, everything is coordinated -- the symbols in a novel, the soundtrack to the screenplay, even the colors of the "Friends" characters' sweaters to their Central Perk set.
Every element has a place and a function, and they all go together to form the whole, like how each word and feeling to verse 1 and verse 2 and the chorus and the bridge creates the song. It's composition, and it's neat and it's clean and it's calm and it makes sense and it's...composed.
But, what I'm realizing more and more -- as I watch more movies and more life, and compare the two -- is that real life is hardly ever satisfyingly neat or clean. It hardly ever leaves us with a sense of unity or security by being calm and composed or makes us feel as if we are calmly composing it, or composing it at all. In this way, real life is not composed. We are not composed. We are UNcomposed.
When I was little and would watch a movie, I wondered if the people in the room with me were feeling/understanding the same things I was. But I know now that even a composed, carefully-crafted thing like a movie composes differently for different people. The same song -- the same instruments -- the very same notes -- stir different worlds of memory, thought, emotion, dream for different people. The same symbols evoke different sets of symbols and meanings for different people.
And so I thought, if something so tightly-woven as art can unravel into such a myriad of meanings...if something so composed can be so transposed that it is decomposed...then how can we UNcomposed humans ever really know each other?!
In the midst of my own emerging meanings, I felt terrifyingly alone, like a boat stuck in a sea storm and longing for contact with any of the dry, stable islands around me. Little did I know that the people I thought were islands were actually all sea storms themselves, raging and dynamic and chaotic and alone: in their own experiences, interpretations of those experiences, and translations of those experiences for the outside world.
We are all composing-transposing-decomposing. Utterly uncomposed and un-unified in ourselves, and for others. It's like as we live we all learn our own language that constantly changes as everyone else's does the same -- we can never completely understand or speak to anyone else. We all make no sense.
I don't mean to suggest that art -- and life, and relationships -- can have no meaning. Much the opposite: I think that all of this transposing and decomposing and translating makes for a multitude of meanings. For REcomposing. For RElationship. Someone once taught me to keep a door of connection to another person, a point of relation amidst the chaotic uncomposed-ness of experience.
That way, even if our lives have different symbols, or if they share some symbols but the same symbols have different meanings, if the soundtracks are different but have a similar sound -- then we can still connect. Even if we only find a few common words between our languages, we can still converse. We can still compose something together. Even if it means something slightly -- or vastly -- different to each of us. We can still sing a duet out of our mutual chaos, our mutual aloneness, our mutual uncomposed-ness.
And that's why I believe in composing: in writing, in art. In language. Because it helps me believe, despite our separateness, despite our crazily-diverse experiences, in the potential for unity in love and in life.
OK, I'm done musing now.