Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Continued To-be-continued...coming soon...The other side...thanks, Jane

He sat in the family room, computer in his lap, in the aftermath of another conversation he had chosen to detach from. She had accused him of being depressed, although he knew he wasn’t, yet he did understand that there was something different, incongruous to his essence. He was not unhappy, or rather, he was choosing to cling to those things that made him happy, peripheral things, not her, though he was not ignoring those things that made him sad. It was if his brain had split, not into the natural left right, almost like the way a dried log splits when struck by a maul; it was split along some desiccated grain, ancient throughout rings, but shrouded in bark about to separate from the still moist cambium; it was here that healing occurs, the healing of the first axe blow, the first to or fro of the saw, healing internal and external both to the living wood. There was some element he could not grab a hold of, unctuous and slippery, like sap rising from the root, yet that, of course, was impossible. The wood of his life was already dried and stacked; whether in cords or in bales of two-by-fours; burn or build were still untenable, unknowable, unfelt, unthought-of. It was as if the next moment could not potentialize, probabilize, in the dry tinder/timber matter. Yes, that was it, he thought, the purgatory of burn or build, held fast, locked in the compressed rings of the tree of life; if he could only push through the phloem, the periderm, and emerge through an unseen lenticel, he would be all right. He was held fast, locked on an uncleared path, silent, unable to hear the crows.

He understood that he needed the key, the ax, the saw, to unlock, and he knew that the key lay within the language of the trees; language inaudible to him, spoken in the inert inner rings, at a frequency too low in the spectrum to be perceived; a language likely inaudible even in the quietest of quiet rooms. He understood that he needed to find the slower, natural pace of things, of thought; the tree-like simplicity of existence; to detach from the rapid fire thought process of self debate; to root, and stand alone; to listen to breeze, to drizzle, to flurries; to shut out the louder voices of crows and jays, and listen, as his synapses fired gobs of dopamine and serotonin, opioids and cannabinoids, for the clarity of quiet; to simply feel what he felt silently, until all desire liquefied into a singular, fluid understanding. He needed to escape the didactic, the diametrically opposed arguments of ‘I want her to be happy’ and ‘I want to be happy’ that quarreled when triggered by dangled expectations, or overly long phone calls filled with laughter, or the slap-in-the-face time she spent cloistered in the room they used to share. He wanted to give her that room, but it was if that gift was ideated suicidally, or, at least, self destructively. He was, in an act of generosity, injecting his own venom, his own toxin, into a thinking mind already too saturated with retrograde agonists; a mind that raced with conflict when confronted with his new reality. He needed to brush the intrusion and fuzziness of pedal-to-the-metal, internal dialogue aside, and parallel the natural course of to and fro, the way crows alight on trees, and trees dismiss them with subtle quivers. He needed to take what she offered, acceptance, but it was that very thing that eluded him. To simply accept that he was now her best friend and that alone, seemed like a step backwards. Yet it was backwards he needed to go, he thought; backwards to the man he was before he embraced the dream of a life together, or, at least, an entirely different life together.

He’d had not time to adjust, to get used to the thing he did not want. It all happened suddenly, and it seemed that she expected him to drop it, as simply as a flying crow drops shit on your head. He felt like she saw him as a big enough man; a big enough man to accept what no human male had ever accepted before him; that he was some sort of evolved man, who would simply be glad for her happiness, and not write a book about it, or seek psychiatric counseling. She seemed to discount the irrational side of him; assumed that he could make it balance, like a linear equation. She knew he didn’t work like that. He wore things on his sleeve, and she’d left him with wife-beaters, with no wife, or capacity, to beat. No wife…no drum…just his head, and the strain of the irresolvable. And the truth was he didn’t want the struggle to resolve. He simply wanted to reach inside himself, and pull out the handkerchief with the answer; not sleight of hand, more like an act of faith, but he did not find the cloth or the faith…just the struggle.

He had moments when the answer seemed near at hand, but it seemed to taunt him by dangling just out of reach. The dog waiting for the fat from the steak. The crow waiting for the hawk to ignore him, so he could steal the offal. The lack of reward, the joy of solution, cast him into a pall of self doubt. He did not know what to do. In fact, he no longer knew how to talk, to touch, or to do. The stream of instructions, the data stream, was interrupted, had stopped flowing, bits and bytes of lost directions, or lost on him, at least. He felt like a sailor, standing in the crow’s-nest, staring down at crest and valley, salty answers in the vastness of water, perched high aloft, without wings to carry him.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A to-be-continued Fictional Story of an Actual Reality

He liked the early morning, the time when lives only transpired within the sleepy houses of the cul-de-sac. He liked the quiet of it, the wetness of it, although he sensed the quiet was only an illusion and the wetness barely more damp. He’d wake, and emerge from his hut to the veiled sounds of squirrels and birds, and wonder if it was him that they were upset by, if they were upset at all, or merely letting the other soundless creatures become aware of his existence in their sphere. He would scour the landscape, seeking the perches of the unseen, hearing the low, guttural squawk of the western jay, bluer and without the crown of the eastern jay, whose screech was shriller, raspier, and possessed the invasiveness of a fire truck siren, or an alarm clock. The call of the west was calmer, almost friendlier, and bore few bad memories. But mostly he watched crows. He liked the crows, clean in their blackness, less fearful than all other birds. He liked the inquisitive tilt of the head, of the few walking the meadow, intuiting the reason for his stare; sizing him up, gauging the extent of his threat, or perhaps pondering potential fascination. There was no possibility in his mind of anthropomorphizing the mind of the crow; their consciousness blocked the empathic urge of the human; blocked by the inconsequential unimportance of the other species. This was the essence of his confusion, the reconciliation of the easily accepted with the contradictory. They, those crows, would fly, some soaring and perusing, others ultra-focused, bee-lining toward some detected detritus or offal, alighting mid-street, impervious to the later day danger of cars and drivers. Others would circle, or hover, floating in awareness far removed from human perception. The crows comforted him, provided a solace derived from the singularity of their very identity, so distinctly crow-like, and unlike any other breathing thing.

He was careful in his steps, consciously aware of the slugs and spiders, ponderously traversing the pavement, or suspended on a single strand newly spun; careful to protect the focus of their moments, drinking, or coping with, the residual dampness of rain or dew, or perhaps, merely anticipating their next morsel. Disrupting their intention would be akin to facing his situation. Their lives, unlike those of the crows, were not much different than his own, plodding mindlessly toward something, or dangling at the whim of gusts, on a path tainted with the natural obstacles of living, and impeded by the roadblock of misunderstood time.

But he would always return to the crows, the legendary harbingers of bylines. He noted, in some mindless way, how they seemed always to fly away from an unperceived center, or simply away from each other, like building block matter spewed from the big bang, yet how they always seemed to regroup into an ominous murder, caw-cawing some corvine orchestral strain, harmonious and dissonant simultaneously.

He walked slowly, when he walked at all, coffee in his left hand, cigarette in his right. How funny, he thought, that the cigarette was named as such to attract the female addict, given a more attractive gendered nickname, yet was so Marlboro man manly, and it was then that he perceived the danger of talking to crows. It was like a dropped phone call, in those days when telephone operators were human and analog, and you were left with the hapless pleading for response, and you were left to find answers within your own plea, and from the buzzing static of disconnected emptiness.

And his thought turned to her, and to her, as the tall pines closed in on him, sentinels of the vast, western valley he now dwelt within, and he thought that happiness and sadness, his own as well, too often reside in ancient clouded memory; or, in her case, more recent clouded memory. He thought about parades, and how happiness or sadness are dispelled in the moment, in the same way that confetti disperses the excitement of parades, little morsels or shreds, unattached to the grander scheme. Here or there no longer mattered. The disconnect transpires in the tearing, the grieving renting, drifting earthward, alighting on disconnected heads, and empty pavement. The chaotic fluttering, the random drift provided him no answers, so he returned to watching the crows chase the jays, the jays chase the crows, the disengaged battle of wills, more for the flavor than the meat.

His direction was undecided. He was unaware whether he was moving away from the center, or toward it, but he realized that his mind had gone silent, and that his feet were wet.

 It was not her dalliances with other men that bothered him, for she was truthful enough about her desire for polyamory. It was not even that she had fallen deeply in love with one of them at his exclusion, but rather her habit of cloaking the reality, the truth of it; not in the sense that she denied any of it, but she did, however, consistently dress her quasi-confessions in plausible deniability. He sensed that she was simply trying to protect him from hurt, but it was also a leftover habit from her previous marriage, perhaps her entire life. She always told the truth, but always just some of it; the part that one could accept without question. It was that form of truth that wrenched him, resisting like a stubborn bolt. He could not, in good conscience, accept that. Perhaps, it was a central part of her character, but for him, it also represented his own emasculation, and he gagged at the thought of resembling, in any way, the ineffectual milquetoast of her former husband; for that was how she had always offered him the truth. She had told him often enough that she learned through her body, and he knew that well enough. He knew that by pushing her sexual edges, into darker areas of restraint and submission, she could find the simpler answers to her sadness; even as she turned their external kinks into internal, freely offered affection. Yet it felt as if she had stopped trying to learn with him. He refused to believe that he couldn’t help her to find a happier place, despite all evidence that his former success in that realm was now all but a rotting corpse. And he was now wearing the clothes, the demeanor, of a weaker man, giving him the outward appearance of a man he dreaded, created while shopping in the wrong stores. He felt himself unable to stem the metamorphosis, and it tortured him.

He did, on the other hand, understand what she needed from him. She was broken, depleted, but he was unable to fill her, restore her, so what she required of him was to accept without reservation; to calmly listen to her semi-disclosure, to not question or react, and hold her, but holding her felt like a reaction, not to jealousy, but to an impassable crevasse, without the iciness, that had appeared in the white sheet, created by his melting doubt, and her melting curiosity. While he felt the softness of her skin deeply, he also felt the unexplainable bruising. She needed him to be happy about it, and he might have been able to, if he could find a way to believe that she was happy with any of it.

It was not as though she was unwilling to share her sadness, and, to a lesser extent, the lessons she had learned. And she thoroughly explained her processes, while omitting the details. She felt that the details belonged to the other men; their particular kinks were sort of sacred and belonged only to them. But, to him, there was no abatement in her sadness, and rarely an increase in her happiness. Perhaps the happy part was reserved for the coast house, or the occasional hotel room; the spaces shared with the others; the places he needed to dispossess. Yet, he also understood that she didn’t have it to give, and almost believed that there was a certain detachment from the others that required no expansion of the love, or lack of love, involved. He also understood that it was perhaps he that had created her need to look externally to their ‘relationship’. He certainly knew that while he may not have created it, he most certainly pushed her to it, for he had become almost surly. He would offer random blasts of venom, wrapped in a sarcasm that seemed extreme even to him, who had always expressed sarcastically. It was a humor he enjoyed; his own method of half-truths; a way to avoid saying what he needed to, and most certainly passive aggressive. It was a reflex that he could not control. It was not as if it was ever offered in response to the subject at hand, but rather, it would occur at the most natural times, like a pun in response to a double entendre. It was the non sequitur aspect of his commentary that made it more hurtful, although that was never his intent. It was more a result of pressure, like water seeking to escape a pipe, or air from a balloon. The valve would just leak, and the outflow was unstoppable. Perhaps his reactions were fueled by jealousy…how much or how little is unclear…but most certainly his reactions were visceral, fueled by something deep within his core, not necessarily limbic or primal, but very basic nonetheless. In any guise, those outbursts were bathed in his inability to reconcile her need with his wants and needs. He was not a man who welcomed only need. He was far more driven by want, and in an odd way, it was the wanting that was taken away, both to and from.  When his desire was removed, whether by his own force, or something external, he could not be the man that he was. The missing chunk of his personality was too large. Certainly, if you are seeking a recipe for disaster in any man’s life, take away his wanting; he needs to want, to desire, in order to create his place.

He returned to his internal dialogue, his struggle, as a large crow stare him down from a nearby tree, seeking his acknowledgement, or his departure, with repetitious cacophony. Yet he could not depart, at least not until he answered his own secret voice, and he resisted the crow’s entreaties with a smiling malice; territorial imperative, to be sure, but also, a stubborn denial of the possibility that no acceptable response existed; a denial that the crow did not possess his answer, if the bird could reflect it. He felt the quality of his response, a resolution that would result in his own happiness; not the happiness of acceptance, of acceding, but rather the joy of embracing the transcendence of hurt. He was perfectly capable of recognizing both horns of the dilemma, but could not find the softness to reconcile it. His insistence on departure laid tossing and turning, unable to find the peace of it, while covered with the warm, familiar blanket of continued desire. He sensed that it could all emerge if he could simply redefine, or redirect, the desire, yet it lay strong and unaltered in its cozy bed. Yet the picture he envisioned appeared to him like rabid, sexual energy without an erection. He felt as if his tactile essence could only deflate in the lack of touch, that his olfactory cues could only dull the powerful scent, that his mind could only unimagine the imaginative words of playful excitement. The flow of his senses was stemmed, spigotted from needed outflow. He was, in essence, shut off at the main, not at the faucet. There no longer existed any ability to adjust temperature, only the potential of restoring the cold inflow to his house.

Yet somewhere in his confusion existed the clarity of restoration alongside the semi-transparent vision of his ability to re-create; to pen a new story, to paint a new canvas. The descriptors and colors remained un-actualized, but their existence was palpable, like the anticipation of a caress. What he felt he had always felt, and he had no desire to let it go. It was completely his possession; his desire, his concern, his affection, his love; and to let any of it go was impossible, and as undesired as suicidal delusion. His desired reality had no history; no prior piece of it had yet to exist. It would be created in the void of personal memory, despite memory. He had no basis, no existing foundation…perhaps no human had any basis…for its creation, though he was certain that to actualize his potential, his vision of himself as a man…as a hu-man…he needed to find its beginning, and to grow it moment by moment, nurture it with the waters of his heart.

As the crow departed, having lost patience with his own, ineffective squawking, and having provided no effective response, he left him with an inability to dwell any longer in his head. He had no answer, only the quality of the answer he desired. The distraction left him with only the dread of an early morning Monday rise, and the hope, strengthened with sensed correctness, of a grand day ahead.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect

This, of course, is why Jesus doesn't actually love you (that, and the fact that he is stone cold dead). But I digress.

The above quote, attributable to Margaret Mitchell, is soooo true, until you read the next line, for it is undeniable that life owes us nothing. What we expect of it often disappoints, but we do have the choice whether to suffer those unexpected outcomes, or to understand that what preceded that disappointment was indeed glorious. We tend to view our disappointments in terms of not deserving either possibility, but the end result is always determined by the ridiculous notion of expecting it to begin with.

I have never read Gone with the Wind, but I did recently read Atlas Shrugged...and I did expect to be disappointed. It proselytizes of the proper virtue of our industrial society (an industrial society long dead), but it is also an outdated reaction to the evils of any social structure that elevates from the bottom of the heap. But, unexpectedly, while the preaching quality of the book was enormously tedious, I was not disappointed in what Rand views as man's ultimate create, and to believe in your creation (she did mean this in an industrial way, but so what). All this tends to elevate, not what is wrong with society, but, rather, what is wrong with people. We have become, top down, a sickeningly entitled society, yet the evils of that entitlement vary greatly depending on where you fall in the hierarchy. We need to get back to understanding that we all make our own beds, and it is by choice that we sleep in them. And maybe then, we could all dispense with the self pity.

However, the real problem is that we have lost our imaginations, and have stopped creating. We tend to think of creation in utilitarian terms, yet we produce almost nothing of use beyond the products of Billy Mays shysterism. Beyond the efforts of NASA, mothers, and artists of every ilk, we create almost nothing that is not a cheap imitation of the same thing before it, like the dollar, for instance. Rather than allow our edges to push them outward...we only allow them to close in ever tighter. We claim to embrace the Big Bang, while we welcome the big shrink. While Jesus doesn't love anybody, I do. So kudos to the nun, to Wilderessence, to 3D printer gun makers, to anyone who sees beyond the edges. And, shame on me!