Forgetting Your Face

Posted on October 14, 2012


It’s been years since I visited Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. I remember that, despite the heavy handed references to other literature and other amatuerish writing faux pas, I rather enjoyed the first 3 books and thought book 4 (The Wizard and Glass) was some truly inspired fiction. (The rest of the series dipped further and further into absolute nonsense, unfortunately, probably why I never revisited it as a whole.)

Actually, if you can indulge me for a moment…. did you watch the show LOST? If not, feel free to completely bypass this patragraph. While a trained monkey could’ve written a better ending than what we were given, I was really hoping for a very Dark Tower-esque styled ending. This will likely spoil the ending of LOST and The Dark Tower, but frankly, if you haven’t experienced them by now… well… anyways, you’ve been warned. The problem with the ending of the show was that it completely negated the events of season 5. They went through all the trouble (including time traveling which is no small feat, even for science fiction) of stopping the plane crash that started the whole debacle in the first place, even set off a freaking bomb to do it. Now, had they followed their own cues, the alternate reality wouldn’t have been some retarded afterlife where they meet in a church (and to that, I still say “boo lame”) but rather life as it would’ve gone down had they succeeded in preventing the crash… but “the universe has a way of course correcting” and fate would’ve put them right back where they were supposed to be: on the island. “This has happened before, and it will happen again,” is a line that was repeated often, and also used, I believe, in The Dark Tower. (Actually, it’s become one of the most overused lines in fiction period, but hey…. it works.) I was really hoping the show would’ve ended the way that it started: with Jack opening his eyes for the first time on the beach, doomed to repeat it all over again and leaving the audience to wonder if the castaways got it right the next time, much like we have to wonder if The Gunslinger from The Dark Tower managed to correct his mistakes the next time.

Instead, we got Damon Lindof cackling evilly and counting a pile of money while the fans shed bitter (and angry) tears of injustice. (That may not have been the visual representation, but that is pretty much what was handed out.) Someone please remind me to punch him in the face, if given the opportunity. But I digress…

Forgive my tangent; that really had nothing to do with my point, but sometimes conversations with me are a lesson in just enjoying the journey once I get rolling. The point is… well, let me return to my clever but so far unfulfilled Dark Tower lead-in.

While I admit to having to Google the quote in its entirety, the mantra about “remembering the face of your father” is one of the few things about the series that sticks with me nearly a decade later. I will now commence with the copy and paste:

 “I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind. I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.”

I could really break it down and come up with a completely unnecessary 10 page essay breaking that statement down into smaller portions, alluding to other refrences in literature and churning up more depth than is really there. Not to downplay the quote; it’s pretty meaty as it is, but I don’t need to handhold you on that one.

Now, this quote might lose some of its impact, if, like me, your memory of your father isn’t a pleasant one. My father actually taught me very little of any value, and I’m being generous by giving him that much credit. I still, however, find the value in that quote, at least from an anthropological (first time ever using that word, kind of excited!) stand point. Fathers, across the globe throughout history, have been largely responsible for instilling certain lessons to their offspring. I think this is something our culture loses exponentially, as we become a progressively fatherless nation, but that is a tangent we’d never recover from if I started, so I’ll leave it at that (for now).

I’m not promoting patriarchal societies or male dominance or even suggesting that mothers are not as important; they are. Just for the record.

The point is, I liken “forgetting the face of my father” to forgetting your own sense of self, the lessons you’ve learned and what motivates you to be more. Self esteem and self respect stems from our self identity, I think; it’s what makes us get back up when we fall, it is what reminds us of the battles we still need to fight and the ground yet to cover and it is what makes us want to create things that have never been created. The use of eye, mind and heart, to me, imply another level of performance that cannot be easily learned alone; it is the focus, method and execution or rather the how, the what and the why.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:22-24)

I have a hard time with this. I don’t have a strong sense of self identity, and I feel like it undermines my efforts. A few years ago, I lost 80 pounds over 12 months, strictly by diet and exercise. No surgeries, no personal trainers, no gimmicky fad diets, not even a gym membership. I could give you all sorts of advice on my method, but it’s really the why that is important: I had a clear vision of myself and the kind of man I wanted to be and things naturally fell into place (with work, of course).

I lose that picture so easily. I get distracted easily, and I second guess myself a lot when it comes to direction. There are a lot of things I could do; significantly fewer things that I want to do, but there’s still a lot of those as well. (Though if your dreams aren’t bigger than you’re capable of alone, then you aren’t dreaming big enough, says I.) I forget what my face looks like, so to speak, and instead of pushing forward, I lose myself in a bog of old ideas, failures and even successes and just… freeze.

So, as I am trying to hit the refresh button (reset buttons are so 1990s) and reinvent myself for the bazillionth time, I am pondering a bit about self identity. How can one wanting to make a positive change (but unsure how) make a plan simply and visually represent it in such a way that he does not live by what he sees in the literal mirror but sees TRUTH… the person that he or she is capable of becoming? How do we let go of the ghosts of what we have done, both good and bad, and look to the future with a new sense of energy and excitement about what we are going to do? And more importantly, how do we maintain it?

Per usual, this is something I still need to break down as my mind and my heart reconcile it to something that’s practical on both levels. More to come…

Wait, how did I write a blog with “your face” in the title without a single childish insult about your appearance? I’m losing my touch…

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