I've been trying for the last few months to write a story. Yet, this is one of the only times in that period that I've actually sat down to write. Problem is, ideas no longer come to me with the fluidity that they once came when I went a little crazy. I mean there was a time when I could see a dead dog lying in the middle in the road and come home and write something about what it meant in relation to the human condition. I was admittedly living on the borderline; it was in the time right after my father and ex-wife died within a few months of each other. It was a time when I was first afflicted with tinnitus and didn't get a good night's sleep for months. It got to a point where I was spending way much too much time living in my subconscious and rarely venturing out into the material world.
I wrote a story about being amphibious and able to keep my eyes above the water while the rest of me remained below the surface. I wrote another one about being someone who kept poking his head above the grave to see what was going on, too afraid to come out. It wasn't a fun time in my life, and writing was how I tread water. There was never a shortage of ideas then, as everything seem to be alive, craving attention. and sending out signals that read, "Hey you! Pay fucking attention to me. I deserve some respect!"
I no longer feel like that. I mean I still feel like all the small things that we constantly ignore are important and therefore deserving of our attention, but in a different, somewhat healthier way. I don't know if it was the lockdown, the paradigm destroying, mythic summer of 2020, or just the fact that I'm getting old so quickly, but seems to me that I've lost a whole lot during this time, and I need to regain some of it, to glean through the rubble and keep what's important and discard the fakery, and since it also seems like I've been inhabiting the overgrown, ruins of a lost civilization ever since my wife left me, I need this new life to begin with a proper foundation. My first incarnation was never based on fact; it suffered greatly because of it, and sputtered and never seem to overcome the fact that it was built on so much self-delusion.
In truth, it was almost impossible for someone like me to be genuine back then because the world around me was so loud and never made much sense. There is so much absurdity in life that at times it makes it all seem like some weird tragedy mixed with elements of fantasy, but also always contains the essence of truth in our every moment and situation, our freewill being that faculty within us that allows us to decide how we choose to interpret the narrative flow like we are just movie critics. We either grease the wheels, or we mine for truth; make no mistake, we all do one or the other, and usually come up with a mixture of both.
Christ said that he despises lukewarm people; and for someone who usually spoke in parables, he made this one thing very, very clear. "I'll spit you out of my mouth," he said. I think he was saying what's the point of spinning your wheels. If you only go in half ass all of the time, you are never going to get anyplace in life, or ever acquire any of the things needed to develop a understanding of what it really means, and if you choose to approach truth-seeking with an unfocused mind, you will always travel in circles and never, ever come close to finding that magical place in back of the wardrobe.
Searching for truth though is lot like hitting yourself in the head with a mallet. Every time you raise a new barricade, build a wall, create a levee, or stumble upon a new belief that offers up some certainty, you soon find new information that either tumbles it down like an adobe house in 7.0 earthquake or maybe reduces it to the substance of a windblown ash. Ingesting too much truth at once is like taking an iron pill on an empty stomach. It makes you gag and burns your vocal cords.
It's hard too. The effort to grasp reality can cause internal bleeding, lots of anxiety and perpetual confusion, it makes you walk around in a cloud of dust that partially obscures the world like the Pigpen character in the Peanuts cartoons. but what else is there really to do? I have this story in my head about a guy who reads both War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov and finishes both on the same day. He puts down the books and for a brief moment allows himself to concentrate on reducing both to the single theme of "Life is a Shit Storm; buy a raincoat and forgive everybody as it was never meant to be personal." And as the guy concentrates, a friend rushes in a says, "Hey I got a video of two fish fucking. Want to watch it?"
"Sure. I'm not doing anything important."
It's kind of understandable though, most of us can't focus on that theme too long. It's too perplexing and grisly, and you can't really dance to it. Instead, most of us would rather close our eyes and listen to the Kardashian sisters debate Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg on the merits of Marilyn Monroe's wardrobe knowing full how much of a waste of time and total dodge that would be.
I was having trouble thinking what to write about. Then tonight I saw a new movie called North Hollywood, and it was a good movie. The scene where Vince Vaughn as the father has a Come-to-Jesus meeting with his son made me almost cry because of how well it documented the great missing conversation I never had with my dad. Well written, well acted, and well filmed, it reminded me of all the feelings that I've kept repressed for most of my life. It also reminded me that the things worth writing about are the things we keep below the surface. The movie reminded me that it is best to be as truthful as possible and say things instead of boiling them in a pot with all the other resentful shit. There is a whole warehouse of memorable scenes in each of our lives that we remember only because of how outside of the box they played out, or because they made us pout, but, like a scene from a Tarantino movie, they don't ultimately mean crap. The only ones that are important are disguised, buried, or placed into darkness where they smolder and burn, big vibrating boulders embedded in our psychic landscapes; they never go away, no matter how much we wish they would.
Mining such ore for inspiration is hard. You have rise early when you want to sleep in. It requires learning how to kill, gut, and skin zombies, how to face down the fear of spiders and snakes, and worst of all, it requires that final, cathartic, ground-shaking, freedom inducing facedown, while standing in front of your mother's bathroom mirror, locked eye-to-eye with the glowing image of who you were really meant to be. It inevitably leads to a moment in time when we are forced to quit deluding ourself and have to come to grips with a whole bunch of terrible truths, the stuff that we hid and pretended didn't matter, the lies we've invented since childhood to cover up the fact that we knew the answer to the ultimate question well before we even knew how to phrase it. The failure of not trying is way too horrible to even contemplate.
I love good movies and books because they move me in ways that few things can; they help illuminate the darkness, and in many ways are the very voice of God. I am going to try and write some stories about wrestling with such truth, stories about breaking chains, climbing out of quicksand, and fleeing from the past, stories about betrayal and moral failings. I'm going to try and write about how love makes life worth living, but at the same time, is capable of a wounding greater than a knife with a serrated blade.