Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Gift From An Enemy

I have been so busy the last few weeks... today has been incredibly useful, though far from relaxing. A woman at the coffee shop this morning offered me a back rub. I must look pretty beat up. And I am. It's funny how quickly you regain your strength after slower periods in life. While your doing the work and straight after you grunt with every movement you make, not realizing the day is a constant effort. You are completely outside of yourself, focused and abstracted to the last of the length of your personality. Things often aren't funny, or even interesting. Time becomes an anamorphic map, swollen beyond recognition with a meaning that isn't physically representative. It flies, it crawls, it empties your bank accounts and pools at the ankles of the smiling proprietors of the lumber yard. How many songs are written about time? As Chalmer, my farmer friend back in the day, used to say (constantly), "It never ends."

Time don't, that's what.

All of this is, of course, the privilege of the young and healthy. My depressed or dying friends, or fairly old and feeling cornered friends are not necessarily grunting through their day. The lucky ones still get in the zone. Thats surely why Jim Sr. is here a few weeks a month instead of back home. The zone don't happen at home. Though arthritis most definitely does.

We feel our worst when we sit around, wondering what to do. We don't really believe much of anything about the sitters of the world. We wouldn't be caught dead imagining ourselves capable (or admitting a capability) of legitimately living amongst the authentic contemplative monastics or what have you. Even nuns don't have much time for God. That's why we call ourselves worldly. There is a great book, for kids (!?!), called Nuns Hurry! Needless to say, its a bunch of Nun's slaving away. In the Zone. Not even one picture shows a face in contemplative rapture. The author of this Trojan Horse of subtexuality is clearly having a ball, stretching their limber muscles of freedom, given us by the Enlightenment. Between the lines. Between the lines.

There really is no lesson in any of this for me. I'm not even really looking for one. It's obvious to me that in another life I would have been possibly a far more conventional dude, or a far more uncontrolled disaster. The magic of life I suppose is having chosen different than what you otherwise would have become. Sometimes people tell me to lighten up and be more spontaneous. I don't tell them this, but often times it is obvious that people have made no spontaneous decisions in their life. Acting spontaneous is fairly easy. It's like acting loving. Find some weak, worthless thing and employ your powers. The world is full of studio audience members who will clap on cue. Acting through your instincts is something I can't even imagine, though we all feel them. They make us cry, and cringe, and speak with an authority unknown to the aural and visual world. And yet we often live as if our intellects run the show. Perhaps our intellects are responsible for the world at large. For all its spectacle, that would explain a bit.

My words may seem a bit clinical, and detached. Those attributes, as well as my infamous flat affect have been uttered by many a wise guy and wag. So, fine. I am attempting to understand the outlines of my consciousness without taking myself too seriously. This sort of thing, I'm told all the time, is impossible. I, however, know how low my standards for truth can be, and am comfortable coming to no conclusions, but merely feeling out the outlines. How such intuitive searching is clinical is beyond me. Though it certainly is detached from the Nintendo Wii, which from what I understand, is a wonderful machine to bond through. Sort of Twister for the Facebook set. Cool.

In most ways observing life is more magical for me than observing the (inter-objective) technologies of our life. An old friend of mine used to shake her head and tell another friend of mine (in a fairly kindly way), "What the hell is Andy doing? I saw him staring at this building. I went into a store, and came out, and he was still there. There was nothing on the building. Had I not known him I might have thought he was a crazy person." Her concern was real. And I find it rather brave that she'd inquire about my nature instead of merely coming to the conclusions most of us prefer. I know I've got all kinds of conclusions. What my ex-girlfriend Katherine used to call, "Opinions." Man I'd love to hear her say that word. There is something so wonderful about being mocked by a loving friend.

But there is something even more wonderful, if you have been confused for most of your life about your nature. One day a man comes along. For what ever reason you are a smart ass, and play with his head. His head is not in the business of taking lightly your bad decisions, and he proceeds to rip you a new one. His violence is on the edge of physical. Your memory of the pleasure of such violence makes the world seem very strange. You look beside you and see your friends in a state of shock, their mouths hanging in a manner that a tabloid photographer would love. You wonder if maybe you don't look pretty stupid yourself. So the violent thug continues to mock you with enormous charm and cutting anger. You realize you are deeply embarrassed and hurt, but for whatever reason can't feel anything but intense interest in this crazy man. You come to see, in no time at all, that you have somehow crossed him. You called him, "Buddy," or something. Or you asked him a personal question, which he viewed as beneath the protocol of public discourse. You somehow insulted this walking volcano, and he now is glowing red. Everyone in the room is tensed, and yes, you know you want, just slightly to hurt this man. Though you also feel bad for whatever it is that you did.

As Garisson Keillor might say, "Isn't this a great time for some key lime pie?"

Being a smart ass, and having gained an appreciative bunch of friends otherwise known as community, you discover you can no longer afford to be a person who ever hurts another. This is the first time you have ever thought about or realized this. The truth, and power of your shared pleasure in the world, shines briefly within you. So even more than your dignity, pride and safety you realize something inutterable that separates you from the man you have somehow hurt. You glance at this bolt from the blue and know just what to do (if you are as lucky as me.)

"My burdens obligate me to see you as my friend, sir. And my burdens, sir, are very heavy indeed."

You used to want to be like this. But back then you felt so small. Today you are far less free than back then. But, in the end, it can't be explained. You are simply a fighter no longer. Just a man.

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