As I mentioned in the video post from yesterday, I was in jury duty last week. It was my first time showing up for a summons–I was called twice for my home county while I was here for school and both times my mother had me pardoned–so I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to actually be placed on a jury. The entire week was a surreal blur to me. I was there, and I was paying attention, but it hardly feels like any of it actually happened now that I’m removed from it.
That happens to me a lot. I’ll finally realize an event that I was either hoping for or biting my nails over and in the end the replay is merely a car crash. I mean to say, I almost blank out and don’t remember any of it at all. I found it very true to my own experience every time a person on the witness stand mis-remembered something or amended a statement. I do that every day, it’s just that most people don’t have enough invested in the proceedings to call me on it or even care.
I like to say that I want to have all of the experiences, by which I mean I would like to do as many things as possible in as many places with as many people as possible and be able to chronicle them somehow. I want to be able to tally them up at the end of my life and say ‘look at all these things that I’ve done’. (Yes, in this scenario I AM still quoting The Killers in 60 years. Don’t be too harsh on old me, it could easily have been Bright Eyes.) And even before that point, I’d like to be able to call on things that I’ve learned and apply that knowledge elsewhere. That’s the best way to play this game, right? Observe and conquer?
Of course, the flip side to having good experiences is having bad ones. Every time I complain about something that I perceive as having gone wrong the boyfriend is there to remind me that I did want to have all the experiences and that whatever it was was certainly an experience. Not that I’m generally very forgiving of that point of view in the moment, but he’s right.
Don’t tell him I said that.
Being a lawyer, as far as I could tell in my seat as Juror #4, is two parts fifth grade science project and three parts community theater. They have to present you with the facts in a biased way and highlight only those things they want you to see. There are often bar graphs. They have to wrangle the story and they have to try and drag it about to the place they want it to end. Their very diction is designed to make you feel a certain way and fill in other people’s experiences with your own background. I must say that it wasn’t lost on me that I essentially do the same thing, it’s just that no one critiques me in real time and no one has to pay me a large sum of cash if I achieve the desired effect. It would be nice if they did, and god willing one day, but you know what I mean.
In practical application all of those experiences help me write more well-rounded characters as well as becoming more well-rounded myself, but I think my hunger ties in deeper than that. I think real life can teach you structures that reading cannot. Some people are carefully rehearsed. Some chaos is merely the final resolution of a long chain of carefully placed events. And most importantly, not everyone’s story is important to the centralized plot. Real life unfolds in a way that writing can’t, because of a need for specificity, but that doesn’t mean that incorporating some of those threads can’t make a textbook plot feel like it has more at stake. I do like a little chaos and a lot of strings in reserve, as I’m sure my writing partner can tell you.
At the end of the day, even though I feel like I want to have all of the experiences, I know that rationally I can’t and shouldn’t. There is not enough money in the world to make me exchange coming home at the end of the day with a clear conscience and crawling into bed to watch anime until I pass out, or dither about with a poem’s structure until I can’t keep my eyes open, for being in that witness stand come morning. Perhaps the game should merely be to have just enough experiences to be able to infer the ones you don’t want to have. Not that I can control that either, but regardless of which side of the counsel I find myself on, I pledge to myself that I will keep my eyes open. I never do know when knowledge will come in handy.