How often do we catch ourselves on changing our interests, switching our attention to new objects? It is hard to answer this question from the scientific point of view but from our own experience we can say that it definitely happens a lot and very often we can not predict it. It just happens without our permission. Unfortunately, it is not something which we consider to be a good trait of human beings. Not keeping enough attention and easily changing our focus of interest causes nothing else but unreliability.
Our short-time attention is used a lot by all sources of media. The commercials on TV would make us be obsessed with something for a while and then something new comes up and all the previous interest is gone and replaced by new obsession. It happens a lot just in our lives as well. We are so fond of something, we give it all our time and attention and next moment we find ourselves not caring about it anymore and having a new object of interest.
There are two stories which I would like to talk about and show the human inconsistency on their examples. One of them is a fiction story “Alma” by Junot Diaz and another one is a tale for children “A Very old Man with Enormous Wings” written by Gabrial Garcia Marquez. If you just start to compare the stories you can definitely see how different they are and maybe even at first sight you would not notice the main similarity.
“Alma” tells us a story about the couple which as we realize reading it, has nothing but great sex. Alma is a young woman in her early twenties from Dominican family with a father, “who speaks only English in the house” and her ““radical” and real Dominican” boyfriend whom she has nothing in common with. He knows that for sure pointing, “You are so very different—she rolls her eyes every time you turn on the news and says she can’t “stand” politics”. Everything goes fine in their relationship until Alma finds out that he is not that much into her and starts cheating on her.
In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” the author tells the story about a couple with a sick child. They find an old man with wings in their courtyard and are told that he is an angel who is there to take their sick child away. They lock him in the chicken coop and present him as an amusement to the community charging fee to see him which bring them a lot of money. The society doubts about angel’s origin and tries to answer their questions, “the most merciful threw stones at him, trying to get him to rise so they could see him standing. The only time they succeeded in arousing him was when they burned his side with an iron for branding steers, for he had been motionless for so many hours that they thought he was dead”(554). Then there is a new amusement appears in the town a woman who was changed into the spider for “disobeying her parents”. The crowd forgets about an angel and moves to a new attraction. The angel keeps living with the family for a while and one day flies away.
I can just guess that the human nature is built this way: we always look for something new, maybe better, maybe more interesting. We are never satisfied with what we have and always look for something which we don’t have and probably can not have. We easily get distracted and always are open for new experience. Alma’s boyfriend is obsessed with her; he keeps admiring her and especially her body,” Ain’t a day that passes that you don’t want to press our face against that ass or bite the delicate sliding tendons of her neck. You love how she shivers when you bite, how she fights you with those arms that are so skinny they belong on an after-school special”. Though he also clearly understands, “Yes – it’s an opposites- attract sort of things, it’s a great-sex sort of thing, it’s a no-thinking sort of thing.” Alma trusts him and maybe in love with him but a new girl appears in his (Alma’s boyfriend) life and Alma is no longer on the first stage of his life. The moment he realizes he lost her forever after she has read his journal, “You stare at her incredible legs and stare between them, to that even more incredible popola you’ve loved so inconstantly these past eight months”. We see that his love is over, he talks about it in the past.
The same line we can follow in Gabrial Garcia Marquez ‘s work “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”. People are obsessed with an angel; they come from all over to see him. They all expect to see something supernatural happening. It says, “The curious came from far away. A traveling carnival with a flying acrobat who buzzed over the crowd several times, but no one paid any attention to him because big wings were not those of an angel but, rather, those of a sidereal bat. The most unfortunate invalids on earth came in search of health: a poor woman who since childhood had been counting her heartbeats and had run out of numbers; a Portuguese man who couldn’t sleep because the noise of the starts disturbed him; … and many other with less serious ailments” (554). Everybody really wants to learn if it is a real angel or “just a Norwegian with wings”. Even a local priest Father Gonzaga not being sure about a man with wings being a real angel writes “a letter to his bishop so that the latter would write to his primate so that the latter would write to the Supreme Pontiff in order to get the final verdict from the highest courts”(553). The whole town keeps watching the angel until one day a carnival attraction arrives bringing a spider-woman who tells her story about being changed into the spider for disobeying her parents. Everybody goes to see a poor lady and learn her moral lesson. People bring her meatballs. Nobody cares about an angel any longer. He didn’t justify people expectations. Now the community has a new amusement and nobody ever recalls about an old man with wings.
There is another parallel in both stories as well. Diaz certainly shows us that Alma is ashamed of her heritage. There are couple good examples of it like, her “big Dominican ass”, “An ass she never liked until she met you”. She is embarrassed of her body which screams at you about her Hispanic background and she doesn’t lie about it, “She won’t even call herself Hispanic”, but more intimate detail is what her boyfriend brags to his friends, “…that she says terrible white-girl things while you fuck”. She totally doesn’t like the fact of being Latino woman. In another story a man with wings is automatically labeled a “freak” because of his wings. He is old, sick and probably in pain but people can look at him only like at a man with wings. The priest doesn’t want to admit the fact that a man with wings is an angel, “He argued that if wings were not the essential element in determining the difference between a hawk and an airplane, they were even less so in the recognition of angels”. There is nothing which would make him be like all the rest. His wings will always remain as a main discriminate sign of his existence among the people. Both characters are unable to hide their true selves, which should be considered as unique features of all beings.
It is very important from whose point of view the story is presented. “Alma” is told to us by her boyfriend. We see all the events through his eyes, we feel his lust, “She’s more adventurous in bed than any girl you’ve had…”, we feel his shame of cheating, “…when you pull up in her Saturn and notice the journal in her hand your heart plunges through you like a fat bandit through a hangman’s trap. You take your time turning off the car. You are overwhelmed by a pelagic sadness. Sadness at being caught, at the incontrovertible knowledge that she will never forgive you”. In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” we see the old man as an outside audience; we become one of the crowds who pay money to see an amusement. Both stories put the reader in the position of the antagonist so we feel the guilt for the wrong doings of humanity.
“Baby, you say, baby, this is a part of my novel”, is one of the last sentences of “Alma” and it is finished with, “This is how you lose her”. Alma is a part of the novel, the novel of the narrator’s life. The part which is over and there is no way to replay it again with the same characters. He has a new woman in his life and Alma is no longer a priority for him. At the end of “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” the angel flies away and Elisenda , the woman whose child was once sick, keeps watching him, “Elisenda let out a sigh of relief”. She is relieved to think that the episode of her life with angel is over, “She kept watching him even when she was through cutting the onions and she kept on watching until it was no longer possible for her to see him, because then he was no longer an annoyance in her life but an imaginary dot on the horizon of the sea”. The angel is gone and she doesn’t remember anymore that an old man with wings brought wealth to her family.
Why are we so inconsistent? What makes us not enjoy what we have, not appreciate it? We work really hard to move toward our dreams and our goals. The moment we reach them we feel happy but just for a little while. We see something new, something which brings us new excitement and we switch to it right away. It concerns our social lives a lot, our boyfriends/girlfriends, our jobs and many other factors which play significant roles in our lives.