Saturday, May 29, 2010

What makes you feel infinite?

It’s 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I am eating a bowl of microwave popcorn alone on the couch. On the surface, there is nothing particularly interesting about this, I know (save for the fact that I actually really don’t like popcorn), but I am rather enjoying it.

I so seldom get the whole house to myself like this. I love the roommates, but I also strongly feel that the occasional chance to be alone it my personal method of re-aligning the world. That, and cutting my hair or rearranging furniture, but I haven’t had a whole lot of time to do either of those things. I did start an ill-fated crusade to clean my room this morning, but succeeded only in widening the path from the door to my bed.

But, here I am, alone with my popcorn, a glass of wine, an episode of SVU I have already seen at least three times, and my thoughts. And, wow, the thoughts.
I went to see my roommate’s band play last night and got to see a man I hadn’t seen in many years. I told him about the book, and he told me about his new music. We were discussing “the incident.”

“The incident” isn’t much of an incident, really. I sent ten copies of Max and Menna out to writers, as I mentioned, for praise. I got the very first response and…it wasn’t good. It wasn’t BAD per se, simply a very nice “this isn’t my cup of tea.” No matter how nice, I feel deflated. This was followed by encouragement to keep writing. That did frustrate me a bit, because I have always felt that my writing isn’t a choice, but an imperative.

I know, I know, I need to develop a thicker skin, but this is neither here nor there. I told my conversant this last night and he waved it off. I explained the whole imperative theory and he nodded knowingly and told me about his music. “It’s a way to live forever,” he said, “to put something out there in the world that outlasts you.”

Which, as always, got me to thinking. It reminds me of this book I just read—Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower—in which, at one point, the main character is in the middle of this awesome experience and simply says “I feel infinite.”
I feel infinite.

It was one of the most potent moments of the book, and it has stuck with me because I think I understand the feeling. I think. It’s that moment out of time where you are just happy, or amazed, or enthralled. There are a few things that make me feel that way, I suppose that everyone has them.

Laughing genuinely with friends I have had for decades and realizing that bonds don’t weaken because we’re all busy. Having a moment with everyone where all of the bullsh*t and egos fade and we just are who we were when we were 18 and are happy together makes me feel infinite. That first kiss with someone that you really want to kiss, when you stop worrying and feel possibility pulsing through you, that makes me feel infinite. But most of all, stories. Books, movies, songs—anything with that amazing story makes me feel infinite.

And so, I have decided that I can’t be too upset about the bad feedback, because I haven’t put a lot of good juju out there for the stories that have made me feel infinite. I read them, I watch them, I consume them, but I so seldom take the time to put props out there for the world.

Thus, I am going to start throwing that out there—tales of books and movies and songs that make me feel infinite.

So, here we go. We’re going to start at the very beginning, the first book I ever read that made me feel that draw. In fact, a book that amazed me so much that it pushed me to write, that I have read it more than 10 times, that there is a tattered copy on three of the five bookshelves in my house. This book is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Many of you are likely already a member of the Ender’s Game fan club, officially or unofficially. I read it in seventh grade and was amazed by the levels of the story, and by how easily I became engrossed in it.

The story is about Ender, a third child in a future when only two are permitted by law. By Ender is engineered by a society that has barely survived two alien attacks to, potentially, be the military genius to help Earth escape the third. If it sounds like hardcore sci-fi, it isn’t. It definitely has aliens and astronauts, but the story is about child soldiers, and what the experience is to them. And it is, to this day, one of my absolute favorite among the thousands of stories I have consumed. I still pick it up at least twice a year when I am between books and want to feel comforted.

I remember clearly reading it for the first time, how amazed I was by how Card crafted it. I was amazed at how I because so emotionally engrossed with Ender and what happened to him, and how the end of it made me feel hopeful and full and…infinite.

More to come on my infiniteness, on authors and filmmakers whose work will live on in my mind at least. I welcome, until next time, comments on what it is that makes you all feel infinite.

And my apologies to Stephen Chbosky for stealing his expression.


  1. I *adore* that expression because I think it's perfect; our best moments are when we are infinite. However, I absolutely despised that book.

  2. To clarify, I actually meant the expression, "and in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

  3. To further clarify, please confirm that you didn't like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and that you are not, in fact, talking smack about Ender's Game.