I used to have this tagline. It was a guiding principle I applied to my work that I used as a sort of touchstone. What I had hoped to convey in my writing, in my stories, was everything; the sum total of human experience condensed in a few hundred words, or a few thousand, a concentrate of emotion, perception and experience that would leave myself, and a reader, reeling with the staggering wonder of existence. It was a tall order, but I tried.
From birth to death through the eye of a needle.
That was my unofficial secret tagline. And with it I wrote stories that were born from my own sense of mystery and wonder. So much of this thing called life didn’t make sense. The quantum physics of everyday existence and mundane events is as compelling to me as the quarks and neutrinos that compose matter and, supposedly, govern that existence. Writing, for me, has been equivalent to the study of theoretical particles beyond our perception. Writing is the study of a theoretical life.
And I have come no closer to a theory. In all these years of struggle between mind and language and pen. The words pour out and only verify the mystery. They draw it into sharper relief. Language at its best will leave us in a state of momentary transcendence. A great poem, a great painting, a great novel. At best they are signals from a mirror flashed by a hand beyond form and time. Something is out there beyond all this. Or something is within.
From birth to death through the eye of a needle. My birth, my death, my body in this span of time. My realm of knowing begins in 1965. That’s what I have to work with. My given raw materials were MLK and Vietnam. I am ever haunted by that Zeitgeist. And I struggled with that, and other events closer to home, to reconcile my spirit and my body in time with that which belies those two seeming realities. Beyond corporeality, beyond the linear measurement of growth and decay, there is. And I am.
I thought it proper and right to create an ODE to myself with as much honesty and vulnerability as I ask others to give. It’s not easy to cram a life through a needle’s eye. This Cliff Notes version does not tell the story in the manner in which a story should be told to leave any lasting impact, but it does, I think, give you a sense for who I was, who I am and who I am becoming. That is more than any resume or dating profile can do.
This ODE is not an advertisement for Vincent Carrella. It’s not self-promotion. It’s not personal branding. I’m not trying to get hired or sell my book. I didn’t make it so you would like me, or know me, or shower me with affirmation and love. I made it for me as personal assessment and source of gratitude. And publishing it on social media is a sort of coming out. Because I think we all should. We should come out of the closet of ourselves and own what we are – sometimes frail, seemingly imperfect, often strong and more than the stories we tell to ourselves.