People do not read sad introspective whiners. So I will try to be interesting and keep my whinging in check.
It’s been snowing for three days. The city has shut down and I am trapped inside. So I sit in my apartment all alone and get all thoughtful and introspective. Read some books on supposed mystical “secrets”, but all they are really are manuals for self improvement: act ethically, stay fit, that sort of thing. I said last time I felt all white and fluffy. Well, here are the pictures.
Those are cars, swallowed by the snow. The parking lot has become a field. The end is near. This is Milton’s frozen Hell and we are sliding into damnation!
Or maybe not.
But the reality is: Stuck in the snow, unemployed or unloved, or trapped in a dead end job or a bad relationship, we all have our own problems, and our misery makes us special. So we don’t want to hear about other people’s problems. We just like to compare ourselves to others behind their backs to raise our own sense of self worth. “I felt bad because I had no shoes,” the saying goes, “until I met a man with no feet.” And then I felt better? To tell you the truth, that’s the most vicious thing I have ever heard in my life.
Last week I told the story about the self realized fellow, the guy who had discarded his ego so he didn’t care about what other people thought of him. Well, he wanted to be selfless and loving but he couldn’t quite manage it. He was too busy trying to get into the Enlightened Club. Too worried about himself to see himself in others, or others in himself. And he kept saying “Master, accept me!”
That was me, by the way.
And this is me, pissed off that Vermouth tastes so horrible by itself and too lazy and unwilling to walk to the liquor store in the snow. I wish it was summer. – As an aside I am growing back the beard. Religious reasons. Also hides the double chin. Hence the stubble.
I learned as a musician – humble band leader and harmonica player that I was – that to contribute to the whole you have to listen to others. A good soloist/front man is only as good as their supporting rhythm section. Nobody pays attention to the bassist, but believe me, he’s paying attention to you. And I have been around a bit, lived in a bunch of countries, acted, wrote, and had plays and films produced and shown in places like the New York Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art.
But that’s not who I am.
I also suffer from severe brain damage from when I was a child and I suffer from physiological difference. I can’t shake the defensive attitude of intellectual superiority because I know I am pretty bright and can do lots of stuff. I also can’t shake the dreadful feeling that people see me as some sort of monster because I had an accident. I identify with the monsters – of course, it is politically incorrect to call anybody a monster or bat-shit crazy but I will because I identify as both.
But that’s not who I am, either.
“Mama!” I bellow. “Mama, Mama! I’m dying!” But her love is history. His whispering follows me into the woods, though I’ve outrun him. “It was an accident,” I bellow back. I will cling to what is true. “Blind, mindless, mechanical. Mere logic of chance.” I am weak from loss of blood. No one follows me now. I stumble again and with my one weak arm I cling to the huge twisted roots of an oak. I look down past stars to a terrifying darkness. I seem to recognize the place, but it’s impossible. “Accident,” I whisper. I will fall. I seem to desire the fall, and though I fight it with all my will I know in advance that I can’t win. Standing baffled, quaking with fear, three feet from the edge of a nightmare cliff, I find myself, incredibly, moving towards it. I look down, down, into bottomless backness, feeling the dark power moving in me like an ocean current, some monster inside me, deep sea wonder, dread night monarch astir in his cave, moving me slowly to my voluntary tumble into death.
Again sight clears. I am slick with blood. I discover I no longer feel pain. Animals gather around me, enemies of old, to watch me die. I give them what I hope will appear a sheepish smile. My heart booms terror. Will the last of my life slide out if I let out breath? They watch with mindless, indifferent eyes, as calm and midnight black as the chasm below me.
Is it joy I feel?
They watch on, evil, stupid, enjoying my destruction.
“Poor Grendel’s had an accident,” I whisper. “So may you all.” – pg 152, Grendel, John Gardner, 1971
That’s me, too. It describes things far better than I ever could. It is dreadful, but sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is that it is extremely interesting and I don’t really want to get off this ride without knowing where it ends up. But I kind of think this is universal. We are all facing the abyss in our own lives, the isolation, the confusion. Funny thing is, we think it’s just us, but we are all standing on the same cliff staring into the same abyss.
I think, as I write, alone here in my apartment, trapped by the snow. All white and fluffy.
Peace and Love.