Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I was contemplating this picture today. I first used it in a presentation on anorexia nervosa. Back then it represented a vision of hope. Sure, the girl cannot reach the birds (and they are flying away to begin with); but still, she is reaching. It is hope that prompts her to stretch out her hand.

A few weeks ago, I watched The Great Gatsby. I had read the story back in high school, but seeing it now shocked me. I was shocked because I realized: I am Gatsby. I am the person trying to enforce my dreams onto the world.
I am reaching out for that distant light, thinking every second that I will eventually reach it. Ever hopeful that I have the power to transform fantasy into reality.

This "hope" has been present for as long as creativity inhabited me.

My girlhood consisted of nothing less than girlhood fantasies: hoping that love was always just a dream away, and that he was already tugging at me from the other side of my eyelids.

As I grew older, I was told, "Reach for it, Jaime. Just reach, and you will get there."
So I reached for the moon, and (if you read the manuscript to my valedictorian speech, you will understand) I over-shot and landed among the stars.

By this point my fantasy had become irresistible. I was Gatsby. I was so convinced without a doubt that anything I wished for could come true.

But some thing--or someone--began to chip away at my fantasy world. This is where my correlation to Gatsby collapses. You see, Gatsby died fully convinced that Daisy would call. But me--call after call has come, and my "Daisy" was never on the other line. There was always a seductive voice. But then I would wake, and discover it was only a dream. So I tried to move on.

I tried to make friends with my shadow;
and write beautiful lines about a fantasy world long-gone.

And yet, something still snags my foot. Something about my fantasy world still tugs me back. I hear the whisper, "But just how much can you make come true?"

And so I find myself reaching, reaching still.

But there is a big, big problem with my reach for the unreachable.
I can reach, and reach, and reach:
But something--someone--is always left behind.
I saw this picture and was instantly stung. You see, Daisy was willing to spend half of the rest of her life with Gatsby. She loved him enough to continue to see him--continue the secret and dangerous affair; but Gatsby wanted all. He was not willing to compromise on his own fantasy. He was determined to make every part of it real.
This is my flaw.
I hear the whisper, "But just how much can you make come true?"
That whisper seems seductively undeniable.
So I reach, reach, reach; until I am no longer in reality.
And in doing so I make my own heart unreachable.
And every other heart that tries to touch it becomes torn and bruised in the attempt.

Yes, I can let myself be swayed by the question:
"Just how much can you make come true?"
But I must also not ignore the question that follows:
"And just how much are you willing to destroy and let die?"

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