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Clannad: Being Seen

When I was a child, I had a lot of dreams, one of which actually, in a sense, eventually came true.  I wanted to be a scientist.

I didn’t know what it meant to be a scientist, and that deck was stacked against me from the beginning, but I wanted to be a scientist.  As it turns out in my kid-maybe-or-maybe-not-on-the-spectrum mind, what I really wanted was to collect stuff, but I did want to be a scientist.  I wanted to be a scientist because I could collect knowledge.

Isn’t that a weird thing to collect?

I always wanted to learn for its own sake, because that was a form of collection.  I always liked collecting.  When I got into chemistry as a preteen, I collected chemical formulas.  When I got into computers, I collected IC part numbers and parts (my parents hated that).  But that was really my motivation for all of that.  I think I got into computers because I subconsciously wanted to manage my collections.  Even now, I collect things and manage those collections as best I can.

But oh well, that’s not what this post is about.

When I became a teenager, I did a rather abrupt about-face and learned how to play the piano.  I can’t say I was really good at it musically, but I became pretty good at it technically in a (literally) prodigiously short period of time.  For a very long time, the motivation for that rather abrupt, and frankly, ill-advised about face was a complete mystery to me.

One reason I thought was the case, was that in the church I went to, there were two ways to “become someone” – by which I mean, gain respect and influence, etc.  The first was to go on a ministerial track, which meant going to Ambassador College, letting them brainwash me, and then coming back with a larger nose (inside joke) and a new suit, and becoming a minister.  That was closed off to me for many, many reasons, not the least of which was that I had absolutely no desire to do that.

The second way was to become a decent musician.  I watched kids my age getting good at an instrument, and being allowed to do “special music”, being sent to other cities as part of regional competitions, and all sorts of stuff that was closed off to me.  I saw that, I wanted it, so I learned.

And dadgum if I wasn’t actually pretty good at it.  I’m not going to claim I was good, but I was pretty good.  Good by church standards, anyway, which were really low.  And for starting at fifteen, I was really good.  You can say a lot of things about me, and some of them may even be true, but you can’t say I’m not intelligent.

So I decided to go to college for music.

That ranks as one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life.  But nonetheless, that’s what I did.  I wasted a scholarship on that.

But looking back on it, the reason I did that, though not clear then, is clear as day now.

I spoke in my post two blogs ago about Yuuko, a character in clannad.  The story of Yuuko (spoilers) is that she was hit by a car on her first day going to school, and has been in the hospital in a coma ever since.  But her spirit still went to school, and the main characters met and befriended her.  But as the story progressed, fewer and fewer people were able to see her, until eventually, no one could (except under very limited circumstances).  Not only could they not see her, but they couldn’t even remember her.  A bunch of students set up a fan club for her, and then they forgot.

All they had left of her were little wooden starfishes that they couldn’t even remember where they came from… most of the time.

She had lost the ability to be seen.

That’s what I wanted.  That’s why I got into music.  That’s why I wanted to become a concert pianist.  And that’s why I’ve done pretty much everything I’ve ever done past age, well, twelve or so.  I wanted to be seen.  And no one saw me.

Even on this blog, no one sees it.  Few people visit it, few people know about it, few people talk about it, it’s not seen, I’m not seen.  But I still post here anyway in the vain hope that by putting it out here, I can be seen.  But I’m like Yuuko.  No one sees me, no one hears me, it’s often like I don’t exist.  I’ve written a serial fiction over the past nearly three years, and it’s like it doesn’t exist.  Everything I’ve ever done is not seen, not liked, not loved, nothing.  It’s like I don’t exist.  It’s always been like I don’t exist.

There’s some freedom in this, though.  I can say almost anything I want, like Fox News commenters are idiots (like in the last post) and no one will notice that, either.  Not existing means I don’t exist, in one for or other.  Eyes just pass right over me.  No one hears my voice.  I went into the arts hoping that that way someone could see my existence, that I could actually make a difference in the world, but I’m like Yuuko.  No one sees, no one hears, and no matter how loud I shout, that won’t change.

It’s okay.  I understand.  I think I do, anyway.  This is who I am.  This is my lot in life.  Someday I will die, and my second death – where no one ever mentions my name ever again – will come very quickly after.  No one will have seen my flame.

And yet, for some reason, for some unfathomable, stupid, beyond human understanding reason – I’ll keep shouting.

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