You thought the vacation there after thirteen years would shake the New York dream. You thought you could stop wanting to be an Abstract Expressionist painter or young proto-beat writer living in the New York City of the 1940s. You thought you could stop wanting to be an extra in a Woody Allen movie from the 1970s, or a friend on the TV show Friends in the 1990s. You can’t seem to stop yourself, though, as surely there must still exist an old brownstone condo on the Upper West Side waiting for you or a cozy loft down in the Village. There must be a gang of accepting friends and critics prepared to toast and fete your genius almost every night.
The bad years were the years that you leaped out viciously from your encasing of bone, flesh and soul–revving your spirit into the red and clenching muscles from brow to base of spine in an effort to transform yourself into…what? Whatever those present seemed to think were the ingredients of greatness.
What it means to be a human being is, for scientists and philosophers, vastly uncharted territory. For those who spend their lives not trying one whit to know what it means, the art of being human comes and goes quite naturally. You can see how this happens all around you, as people struggle to define themselves through ways and means that are never completely human.
Your dad in the dream was speaking to you from the old phone number, as if he’d always stayed there at the old home, but his life had progressed mostly as it has in real life. He’d just won some type of contest to receive a bunch of Garth Brooks memorabilia, and you were quizzing him on the specifics of what he’d won. There was a break in his voice, a moment of frustration, where he groaned your name as if you were tiring him. Something about his irritation told you that this wasn’t him, but a demon or creation of your imagination.
You wake up thinking about what the present day mythos of zombies and androids really means when our culture fetishizes such things.
These are not the desires most men would identify with–desires of the flesh, aching for sensual pleasures, longing for travel to far away lands. Maybe some of their travel desires and desires of the heart are approximately like your own, but what you long for are these opportunities to live a thousand other lives.
Some of the lives are your own, and simply alternate paths you might take were you given the opportunity to go back and choose again. Some of them are other people’s lives–ones you’ve read about, heard about, or imagined. Some lives are grand and some are common.
Some lives you want to live for the span of a lifetime, and some you might only want to catch in a glimpse. It’s romantic and nostalgic to want to live somewhere in the Northeast as a fisherman’s wife, mother-in-law, grandfather, child or the fisherman himself–all for a day. Maybe as one back in the sixties when technology was such that little things in life like running water and electricity could be appreciated without too much struggle for survival. But, you’d hate to spend a lifetime as such.
You suppose that’s what books are for–when movies and videos fall short of actually putting you in the skins of other people. But, books are only as good at helping you live other people’s lives as long as the writing and your imagination are working well together.
Perhaps this is what Heaven really is–a chance to travel in a 360 fashion, through all of time and space and alternate realities and bodies of a billion lives lived.
Yes sir, you would have started a nice little sex fantasy that involves how your life and hers were wrecked and you were both rendered alone and together at a bar crying about your relationship woes, except…yeah, you’ve already made one of those manifest some ten years ago, only to watch it go down in the flames of an uneasy siblingesque relationship that saw you miserable every time she invited a new man to bed.
The beauty of your mind is that you can take a concept and gnaw on it, cracking the marrow successfully long after others have given up and buried their concepts. It also has been the source of your many failures, as any and every notion can become a full-blown obsession, raging out of hand like a lab experiment that left the test tube to crash and burn through millions.
tonight, you are going to go deeper than you’ve ever gone before. this means you will dive past the churn of today, the ripples of tomorrow, and the undertow of yesterday. survival in this world hasn’t changed much from the days you worked at a diner or in a factory to feed your family. you do what you have to do to survive, but nights, you let the body rest and take the mind down way low.
you go past all the things you’re expecting to see: demons, angels, people that just died and people ready to be born again. you travel past anything that you think matters, because nothing you think matters, really does.
when you are finished, you will know that God matters and Love matters, but right now, you don’t know them as you should.
the mind, in its pristine form, is like a mighty redwood, vast and impossible to take in at a glance. it plants its roots down past all of the distractions to stay firm and true. some minds, of course, are like weeds, and get uprooted quickly, then blown away.
it grows harder to find the words you want to use to describe where you’re going, once you’re going there. if you’re on your way, then you’re thinking slowly, and if you’re writing, you’re writing slowly, too.
if you care to take on the task of trying to read my writing from twelve years ago, you might be alarmed at how immature and diabolical i was, or you might be amazed at what a precocious talent i was, and a wise thinker, to boot. it depends on which file you open.
truth is, many of the core truths i’ve needed to take to heart and put to practice have been with me through the better part of my life. way back in 1994, while i sat smoking various tobacco concoctions in my room listening to all of the sad, slow songs on the new cracker album, i was also hearing a voice that said “just go and help someone, the number one priority is to help others.”
it’s easy for that helper kind of soul to get waylaid by those who merely want to use it. an immature soul will see everyone around him needing his help, and indiscriminately attempt to offer his help to them all, seeing a touch of “the least of these” in even the most composed of personalities.
it’s also easy to go through portions of one’s life without examining all that remains broken. only after many false starts and devastating train wrecks does one come to realize that all of the good stuff one has to offer the world isn’t being properly implemented due to the bad that has been largely ignored.
i’m going back twelve years a lot in my mind right now just because it’s been about twelve years since i was immersed in that first job after college that i plugged away at out of a huge since of duty–to get my debts paid down, money saved, and life begun properly. i put in long hours, drove an hour each way to work, worked the night shift, learned large amounts of new professional skills, and refrained from drinking much as i was living with my parents and little brother full-time again.
so, the point is that there are a lot of similarities. do i see c as a great life-long career organization? not by much. certainly, if things go a certain way with a and me, then i would accept that i need this type of organization to help me start a family.
i think maybe those months at h&f products saw me at my best, and g fell in love with an e who was really yet undeveloped. friends who would provide bad influence on me were largely out of the picture as was the booze. i was focused and dedicated to accomplishing something. but, i was also young and animated, full of the grand dreams that can only fit inside a younger man’s head.
it will be of utmost importance, i think, to consider a lot of these things on a regular basis, and understand that the best changes that have come of late are all the result of me going deeper, being more committed to changing myself. it’s easy to write wise things. anyone can do it, really–because if you care to tap into God when you are writing, then positive, life-changing messages tend to flow naturally. your mind is forced to flow linearly and align itself with your fingertips and the words on the screen in front of you. but, they are just words–all-too-often left there in a file somewhere and visited in periods good and bad while a head is scratched with you wondering why you wrote what you did.