I Wonder as I Wander

[23 September 2007]

By tjmHolden

When I was younger I believed that dreams came true
Now I wonder
Cause I have seen more of dark skies than blue
Now I wonder

Chris Isaak, I Wonder

I’m not as grey a guy as ol’ Chris, quoted above. But still, traveling around this great globe of our’n gives pause. In so many ways, it sets a man (and probably a woman) to a-wonderin’.

One thing that I wonder as I wander is this: what if life wasn’t about order?

I know, our bodies – to select but one immediately available counterexample – are self-contained packages. Bundles of nerves, integrated compilations of sinew, carefully crafted architecture of bone. There are highly complex chemical processes that all follow logics which are deducible and predictable employing the highly-honed methods of science. Physics explains some of how it all holds together; bio-chemistry perfectly accounts for others. Medical and psychological and sometimes even sociological theories make fine sense and are occasionally sustainable. They all offer evidence (if not proof) of fundamental order.

Or do they? I wonder . . .

I keep on prayin’ for a blue sky
I keep on searching through the rain
I keep on thinking of the good times
Will they ever come again?
I wonder
Now I wonder

Why would I think that disorder is the better way of accounting for life? Maybe just because all systems tend toward disorder.  It is the struggle against the world that falls apart that accounts for why it is stuck together. Human bodies may have come before social bodies, but it was the effort to keep the former intact – for longer and more often – that the latter was created. And it is the tendency for the other to bend toward unpredictability – if not the threat of disintegration—that sows doubt.

Which is what leads us to the state of saying “I wonder”.


The messages just posted are all commercial messages. A couple from France, one from Japan. But it is all about order against disorder. Commerce, being a “system” with an internal logic that operates in an external environment over which it seeks to impose some degree of discipline. The push and pull between the internally organized and the externally disorganized is ever-simmering just beneath the surface. Which will win?

I wonder.



The same is true of this shot from somewhere in middle-kingdom Japan, circa 2007. One guy, at rest, bucking a sea of commuters heading to work in their business suits, toting their briefcases, chirping into their cell phones. For those in transit, the impulse might be to shout out the old Hornsby line: “(Hey, pal), get a job.” Rent a flat to do your sleeping in. Get a new coat and pair of pants. Contribute to life! Stop sending the “drop-out-and-do-as-you-please” vibe. Help your fellow man secure order!

On the other hand . . . is this the appropriate response? I wonder.

Someone else (someone like me!) might be just as inclined to let loose with a: “hey pal,


more like it. Take your time. Live at your pace, on your terms.” Don’t be anyone else’s show pony. Go ahead: serve as a poster boy for self-absorded (self-actualizing?) anarchy.

Help us all wonder. Prod us into pondering which the preferred path might be; the better way.

I keep on searching for the old me
I keep on thinking I can change.
I keep on hoping for a new day
Will I ever feel the same?
Now I wonder

Case in point. I was at Narita today. Stopped over at a hotel along the way. In between here and there. Got a great rest, caught up on reading and writing and CNN and my Japanese soccer results. I did everything right. Sent my bags ahead early – taking advantage of the convenience of advanced social organization. Able to access all my Internet accounts via remote – more killer order at my fingertips. Life is great, right? Infinitely arrangeable and superbly systemetizable as it all is. Except? . . .

I forgot to pack underwear.

Socks, yes. Shirt, check. Jeans, no prob. Coat, gotcha. Briefs? Well . . . ah . . . shoot.

Now what to do?

I wonder.

You see, you get humans in the mix, and no matter how well lubed the systems may be . . . something is bound to run aground. Like the car featured at the outset, pressed up against the pylon in Paris. Some driver was in a rush or just didn’t care and said – “this car WILL fit in this space!” And left it at that. Which goes to show that there is no accounting for humans rattling around inside systems—like so many ghosts trapped inside the machine, spirits floating around the works of well-crafted mechanisms, gremlins gumming up all your better mousetraps.

Meaning that life can come unglued piece by piece, worlds become disheveled, processes coming unstuck. At least in certain people’s hands.

So what to do? we all wonder . . .

Me, standing before the empty knapsack in my hotel room—ready for the long overseas trip—only, I’m only partially, but imperfectly, suited. Solutions anyone?

Well, dress of course, in everything but. And ride the complimentary shuttle to the airport and then make sure to get inside my luggage before sending it through ticketing. And pull out an extra pair and get to a bathroom stall and redress the lack, so to speak. And just like that, just in that little improvisation, that correction of dysfunction, that persistence of perfectable self, assist the self in surviving temporary disorder.

Oh I wonder
Now I wonder

So, actually . . . no, I don’t. No need to wonder, Chris, because it’s here. Those days you’ve been seeking as you wander. The time where all those concerns you have worried over have now been expunged. They’ve been expurgated. Gone. Kaput. A change of attitude, of orientation, and . . . no need to wonder.

So enjoy the new days. The new outlook. The new way of embracing life. Of seeing it in all its glorious, messy, unsystematic disorder.

That’s an order.



Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/i-wonder-as-i-wander/