I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour staring at the blinking cursor on this canvas of digital paper. Recently, I made the decision to start leaving the past in the past for good–in every way that I should–including the good memories. It’s not so much about personal mental health as it is about hoping to have an empty, open mind for something new to come along and inspire me, and take my writing somewhere. Unfortunately, I am getting nothing. My son is watching the Disney Channel, and it has become our normal weekend morning. My wife sleeps in for an hour or two, while I sit here and am mostly left alone with my thoughts and only the intrusion of squeaky voices and silly commercials popping into my head. I would like to think that I can filter most of that out, but I’m sure a truly quiet place of isolation would be much better for me to develop some new pattern of thought that generates novel writing.
I know that I’m doing my job as a parent by letting so much television babysit my son. However, I am inclined to think that my son will go on to be who he will be in spite of me, not because of me. He has been given every opportunity to socialize on a regular basis with other kids, and he often chooses isolation at school. This must be something genetic. I used to think things like “if only we’d stayed in Colorado, I would have gone on to be more socially adjusted” or “if only my parents had let me watch more television so that I’d have something to talk about with the other children at recess and in the cafeteria,” but now I am beginning to see that I probably would have chosen isolation no matter what.
The real deal-breaker for me around social clubs and groups and fraternities and gangs is that moment when you feel locked in to a kind of obligation toward some leader or group of people that doesn’t quite feel right–a yoking of yourself that feels more like being a member of a cult or a slave to a master than a member of a group that can advance your own personal progress. Even at an early age, when we first moved to Missouri and BS wanted me to join his White Wolf gang, I was of a mind that I had no desire to belong to a group where I wasn’t the leader. If I can’t be the head of some group of people, and must submit to someone else, then I don’t want to be a part of that group. Of course, I have long since acquiesced much of this and conceded that I need to be yoked to some individuals and groups just to make a living and not be homeless. However, I want as little to do with that feeling of being owned as possible.
Here I am, on my first day with no weekend contract work hanging over my head. My imagination has been stripped clean. I only have the naked urge to write. The feeling is that I must make something, and I have no skills to make anything but words. I have arrived in the suburbs of a medium-sized metropolitan city, and I am here to stay. I haven’t really been anywhere else but this city since leaving college, except for the occasional vacation and the three years living an hour north of here. I suppose that I could sit around getting depressed, or drinking, but I think that I will just drink and leave aside the depression, if I can. Maybe I shouldn’t really care about the way things have gone and the way things are headed with my professional work, and with my self-appointed role as a writer of nothing worth reading.
At one time, at least I could go back and enjoy what I wrote, but the things I write these days are simply the detritus of the mind that knows no other outlet. My activities today are mostly limited to watching bad cartoons (bad as in creatively bad not naughty) with my son and drinking beer and watching sci-fi shows on the Netflix or Amazon Prime.
There is a great urge to just do nothing, and let my thoughts wander into dreams that will be forgotten. The grist for the mill of writing has been mostly the past, and dreams, and rants about work, since I can remember. None of this is especially interesting, of course. None of it benefits and furthers human civilization. Is benefiting human civilization the ultimate thing to do and the best kind of work to leave behind? Perhaps not.
Is there meaning to be drawn from a life where almost all relationships have been severed, and the ability to make new ones has all but atrophied? If my writing is any indication, the answer is “no.”
There may not be any meaning in anything from which I’ve been trying to draw meaning. Asking if something means something may not even be the right question. It could be that any and all attempts at transformation, and becoming instead of just being, are misguided.
I walked on. I saw no end in sight, and I couldn’t afford to fly, so I walked on. I wasn’t in any position to be upwardly mobile, and the edge of the cliff was always nearby.
I sat still. I sat still while the rest of the world progressed. The rest of the world progressed toward the edge of a cliff, and I was in no position to extract myself from the rest of the world.
I thought that I was no longer caught up in the snares of teenage years and my twenties, but you know I was just fooling myself.
Settle in, and don’t expect to have much control. The ride is going to be worse than bumpy, the ride is engineered to kill you. You are like any other living thing–you were made to be alive and healthy long enough to reproduce. Something bigger is in charge. It might be evil coating this plane with very few eyes of the needle to pass through. It might be good. It might be both, or neither. But, it is something bigger.
Empty your mind. Clear it, and then let it expand and go where it will. Let it expand beyond the confines of your skull as your skull is in its time and place.
Let your mind tell you its stories and take you places. Don’t let Hollywood and online Original Programming take control of your own storytelling.
You could be in a rainforest without the help of audio/visual aids.
But, don’t linger long there.
This was going to be a weekend of celebration, but it isn’t anymore.
I finally dropped the part-time contract gig. Then, a bombshell. My boss had changed up the marketing manager job description, but I hadn’t paid much attention to it. It more or less looked the same to me. Then, a resume across my desk for an interview: Andrea from MCE. I have spent the past 10 years trying to build a portfolio of skills that will get me slated for a management spot at a company. Wishy-washy boss of mine decides this role will be less about creating strategic and managing projects–which I am ready to do and think I’ve demonstrated more than enough times–and more about managing people–which I have done and am ready to do again. He kind of mealy-mouth says something about having changed the job description but for the most part just tells the in-house recruiter to tell me to post it to the website without asking me a damn thing about it. Anyway, so after I’ve interviewed Andrea, and have been rather unimpressed with her responses and career since we’ve last worked together 10 years ago, my boss calls me into a room and asks me what I would think about her managing me. I mean, what am I supposed to say? No way–she really isn’t nearly as good as she makes herself out to be–and sound petty, jealous, sour grapes and all that. Or say, why sure, yes, I would love to have someone who has at best almost as much experience as I have be my manager?
I am feeling pretty low down right now. I’ve already come to the conclusion that my boss is clueless, incompetent and utterly detached from what marketing does. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place on this one. I am getting rejection letters for jobs I was being recruited for just a few years ago–probably mostly likely because I am too old now in the eyes of a lot of people. I am getting rejection letters for jobs with Director and VP in the title because I don’t have enough years working at jobs with those key words in the title. I am headed toward being one of those sad, middle-aged people who travels around and sleeps in his car, working from fruit farm to Amazon fulfillment center, homeless, divorced and completely out of sync with the world where everyone over 40 better be a director or higher and hang on for dear life and everyone else is clawing at each other to get to the top as fast as they can.
I got a rejection letter from a company whose marketing director had promised to stay in touch with me and have another conversation with me if there were any openings. I also have a so-called friend that works there who refuses to answer any pings–this is generally her nature, where she will only communicate with me if she needs my helps with something.
Such is life. I am at a stage in my age and my career where I’ve really outgrown the work I do, but I don’t have enough management experience to catch the eyes of recruiters looking for directors and VPs of marketing (though I could clearly run rings around many so-called directors and VPs of marketing). It’s completely my fault, for quitting my career for a while to try to do something new.
Naturally, I’d hoped for at least a conversation with the marketing director at this company, but people are pretty shitty, and would rather just blow you off completely than talk to you.
My boss put a last minute meeting on my calendar last Friday afternoon, even as I was supposed to be on PTO. I half-figured he was going to fire me. I kind of hoped that he would, so that I could stop half-assing my way through a decent paying job I have no heart for, and aggressively chase a job I could have a heart for. Then again, I can’t really afford a pay cut right now.
I keep seeing some kind of amazing new career and line of work on a golden horizon, but I can’t make out what it is–what exactly, am I being drawn to? I have tried to answer this question many times over the past twenty years, and I keep coming up short. Maybe there is nothing at all, and it was just my stupid desire to believe that all of life has a profoundly meaningful telos.
Empty me of the desire to acquire new things.
Pleasures and experiences are much the same. I want to possess them and clutch them as part of a collection.
Dream where I was in a second Greek class, and the class had already gotten underway–a translation was due that day and I hadn’t done any work on it. In the dream, none of my teachers from seminary who might have taught the class were present. But, the man who was my first grade gym teacher and high school driver’s ed and weightlifting teacher was in the class to monitor us to prevent cheating. In the dream (not in real life) I had a memory of him molesting me in the past, which made me hate him more than I already did (and I did hate him quite a bit in real life). There was a Greek letter that was hanging me up–in the dream, an upsilon was supposed to have a “v” sound, but I knew that wasn’t right. Except, I couldn’t remember even after I woke up if there was a letter in Greek that had a “v” sound, even though I was pretty sure there was not. Also, in the dream as upon waking I started mixing my Greek and Hebrew letters–there is a “vav” in Hebrew which I kept thinking should be in the sentence that was supposed to be translated. I stood up to look at someone else’s translation as a guide for how I would do mine, and my high school weightlifting teacher stood up and started yelling at me. I yelled at him, telling him I wasn’t copying anyone’s work, but just using it as a reference, and reminded him about the time he’d grabbed me in the shower. He apologized and tried to defend himself by saying he was just doing his job. At this point, because the homework was due in a few hours, I decided to actually cheat and I asked my fellow student to borrow her work. I stepped outside and I saw there was a beach and I walked along it trying to find a spot that wasn’t too bright from the sun where I could sit and copy her work. After walking a ways in the water, because the beach was jam-packed with people, I found a way back into the school where there was a lounge that wasn’t being used. I laid back on the couch and started to attempt to devise some kind of plan where I changed up a few of the words so that the translation didn’t appear to be plagiarized. The English selection from the Bible started in the middle of a verse–a complete sentence, actually–but we were somehow supposed to make a complete sentence out of it in Greek, which my fellow student appeared to have accomplished. I got frustrated and woke up, and spent a lot of time in and out of sleep wondering if there was a letter in Greek that made a “v” sound.
What I really need is one day to let my mind wander away. I want to live inside someone else’s dreams and memories. The air should be springlike, warm and humid, but not oppressively so. The smell of cow manure, freshly cut grass, a septic pond, and rotting mulch fill the air, but not oppressively so. Occasionally, the scent of lilac tries to assert itself. Everything is still possible, and everything must be known, consumed, lived. I have found my manhood and I’m still single. I haven’t given up my plastic, creative brain for the doldrums of the office yet. I can still create interesting poetry, music, art and do advanced math.
I am smart about my booze consumption. I read books. I play guitar. I draw and paint. I get out and socialize with members of the opposite sex. I feel no pain. My family is all alive and all together. There are no fractures or divisions. Even my childhood dog is alive. I have never bullied anyone, and no one has ever bullied me.
I don’t want to work at a job indoors. I join the Army and then go on to become a Park Ranger or a farmer.
I have no idea whose life this is, or what world this is. Maybe it is utterly impossible for all these things together, and for me to marry much younger and have my first son at an earlier age, and my son is the same soul as the one I know and love in reality. Maybe it’s all an escapist’s dream that will inevitably cause me to be reborn into some kind of hell world from which I will not return.
Perhaps I will be reborn as my exact same self again, with only hints of this present life’s memories trying to assert themselves. I may or may not wake up to them in order to make the kinds of choices I need to make to make my escapist’s dreams come true.