I made a short little movie today in my apartment from the ending text of ‘In Summary,’ a piece I posted here some time ago. Take a look & let me know what you think. 🙂
It’s a little lost in translation, perhaps. This was told an image at a time through Instagram stories late Saturday night: 10/22. I can’t draw worth shit, but I think the point still comes through. Enjoy.
I’ve been everywhere here, across nearly all state lines, dipped my toes in both oceans, and lived sometimes with a rare beauty, but most times with dull obligation.
Someone asked me recently whether it was possible to fall out of love. I don’t really think so. Unless something unfortunate happened to your brain: blunt force, disease, rot, pretty much everything on Forensic Files. Something that wipes away the memories you’ve haphazardly cobbled together. Then, maybe.
In my head, a lot of movies play. Some of them are good, like the time I sat in a park all night. Some of them are bad, like the time I got some news over the telephone. Some of them never happened, like when a love ballooned so big inside me and I grew around it to let it breathe.
To accept someone’s love and to give it back is probably the hardest thing you can do. An athlete might describe it as sprinting your hardest until you have no idea who you are. I’m not an athlete. An accountant might call it something else, and someone else something else and so on. Where was I?
My thoughts are scattered lately, my talents, obsessions, love. I’ve spent too much time on the internet, and I don’t really know where they are, tbqh. They’re most likely down the road, waiting for me in strange darkness. Maybe I’ll find them, but maybe I’ll find something else. Something better, something worse.
The one thing that no one tells you when you’re young is that life is hard and there’s nothing and no one to tell you how to live it: everyone is always figuring it out a day at a time. Maybe they do tell you that, but listening well is not a skill most children have.
Another thing that they don’t tell you is that you can do whatever you want. Like, really whatever you want. That there are consequences to actions is something learned early in the crib, or a kitchen with a hot stove. Most times, something innate prevents you from inflicting self-harm. But that mysterious thing does not trigger for decisions that affect the far future.
Who chose this?
A few things that I have seen today, in no particular order:
- A bird defecating from a great height
- An old man holding the door for a young man
- A few smoking men watching a girl in a tight skirt walk by
- Steam coming off a cup of soup
Words, strung together, can be affecting if strung in the necessary order. Words on a page, written by a person, can be written there because there is something they are searching for. Maybe, they think, by writing, something will change. An answer to a question, the last piece of a puzzle, etc, etc. Sometimes you just write because it feels like you’re doing something, I guess.
Even from my desk I can see, pretty far away, this old guy kind of sitting/slumping in a chair somewhere. He’s real old, he’s got a lot of wrinkles and he’s wearing suspenders or something, and he’s just sitting there and thinking about his life. He’s clearly me, and he’s thinking about me, the person that he was, I am, in the way that you think about a childhood memory, like holding my friend Eric’s hand as we walked to the fair ground at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church and smiling back at my mother because I had a friend and someone liked being my friend. He’s nodding, I think, and remembering this time in his life and how much changes: that death then seems near, but now that death is near it seems far; that sometimes you really actually fall in love with someone, and how crazy you act when you do it, and how strange it is to do it, but special, and necessary, and painful but good; that everything feels like it matters but nothing really does, but it has to, and you have to make it matter because otherwise what is this; and finally, he’s closing his eyes because when you’re old you get tired, so he’s old and tired, and he thinks he’ll just close his eyes for a minute and dream about something both bitter and sweet.
Before I was born I was water.
I thought of this sitting on a blue
chair surrounded by pink, red, white
hollyhocks in the yard in front
of my green studio. There are conclusions
to be drawn but I can’t do it anymore.
Born man, child man, singing man,
dancing man, loving man, old man,
dying man. This is a round river
and we are her fish who become water.
– Jim Harrison
I have a perpetual fear of being killed in a plane crash. I think about flying weeks, months in advance. I know what the seat will feel like against my back, and I can almost recite American Airline’s safety lecture, down to the part about the buckle. I’ve been having sporadic pains in my heart, often when I’m at my desk at work, and I see the next few minutes in my head, when the pains will become severe and I’ll leap up and shout, but it will be too late for anyone to save me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and don’t know where or who I am. I think this is a product of not understanding why I was born or what everything is around me, but it’s overwhelming nonetheless. Someone I once cared for very deeply, in the middle of a conversation where I was pointedly saying I wish I could meet someone who made me feel like you did, said, But I never felt like that about you. Last night I drank so much that I don’t remember much of what I said, but in the end it was probably all related to this, as is easy to do with friends. When I talk to people, I mostly watch their mouths, and some people’s mouths are very ugly while some people’s mouths are very nice to look at. Some people, when they see you watching their mouth, will bite their lip, or put up their hand to touch their face, which is nice. I drank coconut water for the first time today in an effort to take better care of my body and stop drinking so much Diet Coke. I really didn’t like it. It was disappointing.
I was in a weird mental space today, feeling very stressed out and concerned about my life and just all around kind of sad, so when it was time to do the commute home, I opted for one of my favorite podcasts, On the Media. At my last company, I made an effort to only listen to podcasts during my commute, as I felt that I was learning something, as opposed to simply listening to music. This has a two-fold impact. 1) The commute passes faster when you’re listening to an interesting ‘conversation,’ and 2) it’s easy to stay on top of the cultural zeitgeist and understand what’s happening in the world. This is important, as what you do or experience in your own subjective reality has an underlying debt to what is broadly happening around you in your city, country, and on the planet.
Of all of the podcasts I could have chosen, I listened to the one that I needed to hear exactly in that moment. “Cashing in on Ferguson, That Letter to Iran, and Nihilism’s Allure.” While the entire podcast is interesting, it’s the latter part that was important to me. The whole thing builds up through current news and examines what it is, in the end, that’s really troubling us all. Here’s the link to the story:
Toward the end of this piece, Brooke Gladstone began reciting a quote, and as I listened to her, I literally could feel the hairs standing up on my arms. It was the root of everything I worry about, that anyone worries about, the whole mortality and fear of mortality and dread of death or meaninglessness that can overwhelm even the most positive person. This is the quote:
“Accustom yourself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply awareness, and death is the privation of all awareness; therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life an unlimited time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality.”
This is from “Letter to Menoeceus” by Epicurus. You can read the full letter, which I highly recommend, here:
Anyway, I’m sorry for the long-winded letter, but I hope that it finds you well and that you’re having a lovely night. See you in the morning.