Monday, October 13, 2008

Replacements (Or a post in which M.Snowe interjects some rambling and incoherent commentary)

The world is filled with replacements, stand-ins. We have vice-presidents, runners-up, understudies, bench-warmers, you name it. These are the literal and defined replacements, anyways. They serve acknowledged, and important (though sometimes under-appreciated) roles. In the absence or inability of the primary, they stride in and (hopefully) fulfill the duty vacated by their predecessor.

Not just people, but words, ideas, inanimate objects can serve as replacements. Language itself is a replacement of sorts--words serve as symbols for everything we decide to give a name to.

Replacements are often vital--they allow us to distract ourselves, come to conclusions not otherwise attainable, or maybe see things in alternate ways. And replacements are a healthy and necessary part of life--when they are defined and known. But there are also dangerous and distracting replacements, obviously. And sometimes there are quixotic ones.

Sometimes M.Snowe wonders if her favorite authors used writing as a replacement . . . for something. If that is the case, then it's possible that even the worst situations can produce beautifully prosed results. But then again, replacements are everywhere--and usually involve the same dichotomy: the replacement of a person or wish with something/someone else entirely.

The city has a bevy of replacement activity. People replace any number of real things with the superficial--money, clothes, status, etc. But in a microcosm as big as this one, it's also very easy to use stand-ins, or recruit second-stringers, without their full knowledge or consent. Many in New York have no problem substituting one person for another, or unfairly looking for limited, isolated things from a large swath of unlucky souls. It becomes difficult, if not near impossible to know, in such a large space, whether your presence registers as a primary, or just the least-offensive alternative. To assume primacy is egotistical, to view yourself as the replacement is damn-near depressing. So what does one do?

M.Snowe found herself running three miles, and had the sneaking suspicion that it wasn't purely cardiovascular-health motivations that got her trainers moving around the fluorescent-lit track. She might be replacing one thing or other, but at least the only one she tread upon was asphalt.

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