I am of that age. That age when one begins to question their means, and their ends, and finds the ends didn’t justify anything. The body count is more than I can tally on both hands and both feet, people I will never see again, never feel again, never be again. I will never be whI am of that o I was again. They will never be here again, wherever that might be. And what does that all mean anyway?
I have been accused of living my life alone, by choice. That is probably true. It’s safer that way, or so I thought. There is no safety, there is no privacy, there is no avoiding the pain. Discomfort is inevitable, pain is a constant, suffering is questionable. Some of us suffer. I suffer, but lately I have been willling to amend my definition of suffering. Perhaps it is only life, perhaps it is the human condition, perhaps it is just what it is. Whatever that is.
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the time to quote long dead sages and philosophers and try making the past fit our present. It doesn’t ever work, but still we recycle the old words, the old ways, and convince ourselves traditions are the only thing we need. We forget that we were not there, that we do not know what they knew in the context of when they knew it. We forget the past is a tool, not a map, and that we are now responsible for composing our own truths, our own words of wisdom, our own masterpieces.
Creativity is the only thing we have that can save us. I believe it is true that we are doomed to repeat the past if we forget it, but it is not true that recreating the context of yesteryear is all that we need. Duplicating the past is never going to move us forward – it can’t. We are different people every minute, every hour, every day and trying to bring back the past is simply ludicrous. If there is a universal law, it’s that you can’t relive what you have already lived.
As I am unsnarling the knots and tangles of my own past, I have to be honest – I don’t want to relive those years, don’t want to repeat that pain, don’t want to be that person again. I want to cherry-pick all of it, plucking the sweet fruit of a minute in 1971, a few seconds in 1978, a glance from 1982…a good moment in 1988. But I know that’s not possible. I cannot revisit a static blip on the radar field of memory – I have to embrace it all, the good and the bad and the painful and the inexplicable. The past is not a photograph, or even a video that is unchanging, simply a record of a snippet of time. To be even more honest, I’m not willing to do that. I only want what I want, and having that is an impossibility in any timeline.
If anything, that is the human condition – wanting what we cannot have, having what we do not understand. I understand very little of it, very little of anything. Understanding is highly overrated, it seems. If I cannot understand where I came from, why I came, how all of this really works then I certainly cannot understand why I suffer and why bad things happen to good people and why people die. The best I can hope for is acceptance of the reality of those circumstances, that I will never fully understand any of this and that I don’t really need to understand. Understanding only placates the mind, it does not heal the heart.
Perhaps our hearts are the enduring scars of the rift that created us all, the force that separated all things once bound together by some other force. Perhaps it was the binding force itself that simply imploded, became self-consumptive and could not continue any other way. Stars are like that – they eventually exhaust their energy source and begin to feed on themselves until they implode. Some of them implode so violently they reduce billions of tons of mass into a single point in the fabric of the universe, and we know them as black holes. But they persist and continue to affect the rest of planar existence. We speak of them as dead stars, but they are never dead. They simply exist in different form. And we do not understand.
I am of that age, the age that has given up on understanding many things. The age that has seen things I did not want to see, experienced things I didn’t want to experience. Lost things I did not want to lose, been hurt in ways I never wanted to feel. I am of the age where nothing intentional is simple, where the past is no harbinger of the future because everything around me is a variable. I am of that age where there is less in front of me than behind me, where I no longer believe that certainty is a comfort, where my own company has finally become more enjoyable than superficial gatherings of large numbers of people. In short, I no longer have time for wasting time.
Grief is a necessary thing when there is loss, loss of a loved one, loss of oneself, loss of circumstances or material possessions. Grief is painful, pointed toward a known point in one’s reality. It has no time frame, but it’s always oriented toward the point of loss. Suffering, I think, may be more the experience of general dissatisfaction, of constantly hoping for different circumstances, of never-ending yearning for some cessation of the emptiness. Hoping, always hoping. If there is an end to hope I suppose that would be the cessation of misery, of despair, of hopelessness. Neither of those, however, constitutes happiness or satisfaction, so I’m not sure what to make of that except that it’s not simple. Happiness is not anti-hope, but it is unto itself an equally and opposite thing to hopelessness.
Why does this even matter? I don’t know. I suppose I am just of that age where these are the conundrums that plague me in the moments before I fall asleep. These are thoughts whizzing along the paths of my neural network, such as it is, keeping me awake and making my limbs twitch. To sleep, and perchance to dream. I no longer dream of slings and arrows but guns and bombs and totally outrageous fortune and happy moments that exist encapsulated in the folds of my brain. This is life, such as it is, same as it ever was. What a beautiful choice.