10 November 2006

Middle Woman

Ah-Cheu was a woman of the great kingdom of Ch'in, a land of hills and valleys, a land of great wealth and dire poverty. But Ah-Cheu was a middle person, neither rich nor poor, neither old nor young, and her husband's farm was half in the valley and half on the hill. Ah-Cheu has a sister older than her, and a sister younger than her, and one lived thirty leagues to the north, and the other lived thirty leagues to the south. "I am a middle woman," Ah-Cheu boasted once, but her husband's mother rebuked her, saying, "Evil comes to the middle, and good goes out to the edges."
-"Middle Woman," Orson Scott Card
I guess the real thing I was getting at in my "Insecurities of a Jack" post is that lately I feel like a middle woman, moreso at this point in my life than at other times. I'm neither entirely ignorant nor astoundingly intellectual, neither committed science geek or philosophical humanities student, neither flamingly liberal or staunchly conservative. I don't read the cannon classics or the pulp fiction, but in between. I'm envious of those who can be obsessive fans of something, for I find myself on the borders between fandom and normality. I am a middle woman.

It's not that I don't have firm opinions, because I do. It's just that most of them happen to be firmly in the middle. Everything I've learned has lead me to believe that's where the truth is (see the Circle Theory). But to the people out on the edges, I appear wishy-washy and bland.

In theory, it's a great place to be. The middle is more objective, the middle can try anything, the middle can camoflage itself. But it feels so fake. I'm on the fringes of so many different communities, but part of none of them. Gamers, anime fans, science researchers, English researchers, high culture, low culture, political culture--I've got enough of each to understand what they are talking about, but I never really get out there and commit myself. I balance on the edges, watching and observing.

Which brings me to the excerpt from "Middle Woman." I love the story overall, but I've always wondered about that line: "Evil comes to the middle, and good goes out to the edges." It simply doesn't make sense to me. Good comes to all the edges, no matter how different they are, leaving out only the middle, which is a little like all of them?

And then I wonder if it has something to do with the parable of the unjust steward. Am I only in the middle because I lack the zeal or courage to settle on a direction and move out towards it? Does evil come to the middle because it is afraid?

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