TURNS OUT, NORMAL ACTUALLY IS OVERRATED
THE PAST IS DEAD
He told me that some woman he’d almost-dated or whatever walked up to him in public and said, “You’re a VILE person.”
I had embraced him as he was. Because. After having appealed to our greater existence, or the soul’s source of existence – as in, whatever that thing IS that creates us that is bigger than us – I thought, there is no good and there is no bad in the highest level of consciousness.
Later, after exposing all our fragments of psyche to the real, appealing to the soul again and again, having it blown apart, and piecing it back together, I thought,
Still. There is still no good and there is still no bad. Good and bad is a useful construct for civilization. But it is also an illusion. I am only aware enough to understand it. But I am not aware enough to feel something else. Something outside anguish.
Sometimes words are a sixth sense.
And a message from a place beyond the conceived real. Even, a plea from this place. I thought, I don’t see it like her. But I know why she used that word.
“Vile” is a euphemism for “evil.”
“No you don’t.”
He really had to say I love you. It really couldn’t wait.
“I do, though,” he said.
“No. You don’t.” I tried not to laugh uneasily.
“I think that love is when you see someone’s shadow, and you don’t run” I said. “Maybe you’d even see something you never wanted to see. But you decide not to run.”
I can’t say if that’s how others have ever loved me. But that’s how I learned to love. A miracle of some kind. Because nobody in my lineage of relationship train wrecks ever taught me that. But it took too long to learn. My mind wandered to my true love. And what I knew made it true.
“Love is when you meet someone’s shadow, and forgive them for it. You distinguish it from yours, but you decide to embrace it too.”
Unless you don’t know how to do that. Then maybe you love and destroy. Maybe love gives rise to the very impulse to destroy. If you don’t know how to treat it. If you don’t know what you are doing.
Love is an action taken. Love is a decision. There’s no rushing it either. This is just an attraction, nothing more. It has no actual meaning. It is only the beginning of potential meaning. But potential is hollow.
I was looking for a different kind of embrace.
“Do you love me?” he asked.
“Really? You don’t?”
“Not yet.” I tried to put it more gently. But I didn’t. And I wasn’t sure I could.
“I don’t know your shadow,” I said. “And you don’t know mine.”
He got up to use the bathroom.
My eyes filled with tears as he exited the room.
Our spirits are bigger than the argument
Let them be afraid and reactive
Let that fear blind them
Let blindness make them stupid
Let them sell excuses
Let them have their stories
Let them bypass details
Let them dismiss insights
Let them trust their defects
Let them evade redress
Just let them be wrong
Let them be the asshole
Let them talk their shit
Let them act out
It is okay
I had so much to say, and now there is not much to say at all.
A quietness is the need of the moment.
I used to walk so quickly, everywhere, for any reason, for no reason.
And now it is SLOW. So… slow.
I think it’s learned.
The days of racing around, sweating, killing myself for a buck every night. It had become a habit that spilled over into everything. The pace of stress, of urgency.
A state of panic was normal.
But we can also trace that back to a sad childhood. A university education can teach you skills, but it can’t teach you that you deserve to use them.
Those days are another life. This life is different.
It’s a Friday night and I could be the one to go out. I used to envy those who had the luxury. I’m not going to but I feel so lucky.
This is my own kitchen table, by the window with the view of the hills, the neighbors’ yards and rooftops, a tall pine tree, fog rolling in over the evening. I can watch the sky go dark.
A flat of nectarines in front of me. A half-glass of wine.
Fish, rice, cauliflower – not much in the fridge right now but it’s enough for dinner.
I don’t need as much of everything as I used to. Too much, was routine. I don’t need to devour everything. I can just exist with it.
This didn’t happen overnight. It took two and a half years to begin to settle in.
Nothing is particularly urgent anymore, unless I want it to be. Emergency is no longer routine.
Emergency is no longer a lifestyle.
It’s so much more enjoyable. But mostly I am surprised by it.
I didn’t know it could be this way.
I never knew how anyone could be so calm.
I am grateful to be bored.
There’s no real future, and no real and true present, without the past.
I rarely used to write as candidly as I’ve done on certain recent occasions. Breaking the rules of what I’ve felt would be a better thing to write. A more worthy thing. Not sure how long it will last. I’ve felt the impulse waning, and the writing shifts into other topics. But that’s partly a diversion from my tolerance level for my own stories, which aren’t always so comfortable. But – I’m a little bit of the mind that one’s own story is the most (perhaps the only) quasi-honest thing that they’ll ever have to offer. Writing involves persona, but a persona does have roots.
When venturing into the darker places, I’ve thought “am I making myself look bad?” Aside from the heart-to-heart with close friends, I would try to be more enjoyable than what is real, in real life. Try to avoid subjecting people to actual reality. It’s the polite thing to do, right? But this is a blog. On the internet people have a choice to tune you in or turn you off, or just turn your page to a better day. A more productive, enlightened, insightful, less self-indulgent, more palatable day.
I’m inclined to get personal because I’ve wanted to see more of it around and the brand of “truth” that it offers. And because people like to say things in life aren’t personal, even though sometimes they damn well are. And because some like to say that you shouldn’t write about the personal, and especially that you shouldn’t blog about the personal. Why not? I do it because I don’t want to be a vegetable. Because I am not an emotional zombie. Because nobody is.
Nobody is any of these things, and yet with current trends of cancel culture, conspiracy violence, and a revolving door of media-corrupted and debased relationships underscored by apps treating people as a pizza to be ordered, a mounting loss of respect for basic humanity is upon us. To write the personal is, in a way, to stand for humanity.
It seems tragic to have to remind ourselves that humanity itself is intrinsically worth something. And that it deserves respect on this basis alone. And that humanity is why we are doing what we are doing — everything we do. Because of love. Because of need. Humanity is everything to us in fact — even when we forget this. And we were not put on this earth merely to exist as an extension of somebody else’s agenda, or for whatever our value is or isn’t to them.
So how can the personal be so offensive? Does it seem too… feminine maybe? Too low? Too self-important, unless you’re a celebrity whose stories are automatically more valid than yours because they are rich and famous and you aren’t? And so everyone wants to hear their story, but only for the tabloids to take them down later also? For their humanity. Or is the personal just too real, as if we are not even grown up enough to handle that? What exactly do we need to reject about it? Don’t write about yourself, we’re told. Don’t talk about yourself. Why not?
We have stories. Why not tell them? What exactly is so offensive about a first-person narrative now? Is it really that much more “selfish” than anything else? Or is it just that it doesn’t sell as well as a how-to? Is it less practical and functional? Is it less… “good business”? Maybe even less…. bullshit? Does everything have to be monetized to have any kind of value? Does human experience have no value? Are our most unusual personal narratives “crazy”? Obviously that’s all total nonsense. Yes I said obviously. Let’s stop playing dumb because we can do better than this.
To understand humanity one has to get personal. To piece together a complete picture of history, even, we study people’s letters and diaries. Women’s history would hardly even exist without such accounts. Without the surviving poetry of World War I and II veterans, that entire front-line perspective of the very real horrors and consequence and the human cost of those wars would be missing. What about works like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? We’d just never know. All the history we’d have then is “big history.” Only life’s biggest winners — the most powerful and influential. And grossly incomplete. The personal does have its place — even in the most important research.
Everyone has their take on what’s going on in the world. Everyone has their take on what’s going on with another person, with groups. To write the personal is almost more responsible, because one presumes only to know oneself. Of course we do not really know others, much as we like to think so. We can only theorize. Yet if you write yourself and pretend that the writing is of others — of characters or even real players — it would seem more respectable to forge that little white lie.
Shouldn’t we pretend to be “above it all” to help our career and reputation? I struggle with my own cowardice too. To write the personal is to actually share. To allow oneself to be seen, beyond hiding behind signifiers that would elevate our status. But to write the personal is also to subject oneself to something as fraught and complex as the ideology of our own existence. And as fraught and complex as the admission of ourselves as sensory and emotional beings. Sensitive beings. Souls, even. In doing this, our stories propel us all into bridging the gaps of our differences. Enabling myths to be dispelled and theories to evolve and opinions to expand. Is this why the personal can seem so offensive in theory? Is it simply too demanding to step into another person’s experience, or even to dive more deeply into our own? The personal can be as antagonistic to core beliefs, as much as it can be seductive for its intimacy. Does its seductive quality make it too easy?
In the darker times I’ve had the thought, would I be writing like this if I were happier? Perhaps no. But I would still be writing something if I were happier. So do I just pretend this current reality of my humanity doesn’t exist? What good will that do? Convince or encourage more people to sit alone on the couch by themselves crying in their own worst moments, thinking no one understands and fearing what will happen if anyone discovers their grotesque vulnerability? That’s no great service either. Will I ever be happy again? I assume so or can only hope. For now, I will at least do something with whatever is going on in the moment. What could I give, as an artist, more than these diverse momentary truths of my existence?
To worry so much about saving face is to never be free. And, I would argue, to worry so much about saving face is to limit what you have to give. To worry too much about saving face — maybe that’s the true self-serving disease.
The present isn’t female. The future isn’t female. The present is just the present and that’s a lot of things. The present is black white brown and all the genders and religions and cultures and professions and all of whatever else we are seeing.
The present is simply what we see right now. The future is just human. The future is tired of fighting. The very literal future is beyond hate. Beyond division. Beyond identity, even. The future is human.
The future is beyond having to even see at all.
To understand, is an opportunity. To not understand is a choice.
My style or I guess you could say my interest is the total fullness of life. It is not look at this but ignore that. It is not, fall in love halfway. It is all the way. It is not, take only this but not that. Elevate this but reject that. It is the total fullness of a person, of life.
It is, if you’re going to do something—anything—do it it all the way. Commit yourself. But commitment also requires flexibility. I have not always been willing to take the bad with the good. But when I have I have almost never regretted it. At some point in the process, the self is exceeded.
Sometimes I have committed to misguided projects or the wrong goals. But I don’t believe I commit to the wrong people, insofar that I even could. They’ve been meant for me somehow, and I for them. Sometimes I did not succeed to love them completely enough. Often. I’ve only recently learned how to do this, or to focus upon it better. And I make mistakes. In better moments I own them now, even when others don’t. Apologize, even when others don’t. See someone, even if I am unseen. It’s not a weakness. It’s not a sickness. It’s a clarity I want to see more of in the world. It’s a humility. Not a humiliation. It’s an appreciation.
It’s an expansion of the mind and especially the heart. I want to be in a world with more curiosity and a willingness to grow. If it causes pain, it is more painful to live only for one’s own egocentric and woefully limited consciousness.
My love of art and poetry came first. But I did not love them all the way either, for a long time. I had some toxic influences. Art is a very difficult occupation. Yet an incredibly kind influence also. And almost like a force of nature.
Some will make you feel bad about what you have to offer, as if it’s worth less than something they do. Though they may feel superior, these people’s attitudes are as easy as they come, and not hard to find. Continue. Do it more. That’s the only way. Some do not understand that it is a useless enterprise to try and break someone down, who is not going to give up anyway. They will hardly know that their arguments achieve nothing. They think they know what they are talking about. But they do not know. Nobody knows what is really going on especially outside of their own little bubble. There’s a reason arrogance is unflattering – it can only serve one. It’s someone handing you shit on a silver platter, as if the packaging makes a difference.
People do not reject you when it seems they do. They reject a second-hand idea. They reject a part of themselves they don’t want to see, or would rather disown. Because they do not allow themselves the same freedom. Because they have a template in their mind, or a temple. Your piece does not fit perfectly into their finite puzzle. Because they do not realize that you can have that, and also this. Have me, and also have you. You can have the total fullness of life.
i’m drinking a tangerine Italian soda at 11:20 at night. the apartment is messier than usual. it doesn’t matter. there’s no good enough reason to be motivated to mind. it’s been one of those days. it’s gloomy out. nothing better to do than create things. supplies scattered around everywhere. computers. books. papers. i live here. fully live here. nobody is in my way. but i kind of wish there was.
there are those who would have you believe that doing this sort of thing makes you selfish. selfish to spend so much time on art, like you’re so important. selfish to write about yourself. no, selfish to not be writing about somebody else. talking about somebody else. existing as if you value everything else more so than what is inside you.
as if every other activity out there isn’t selfish. as if watching tv isn’t selfish. the person who assigns worth to something is yourself. the person who decides something isn’t worthy is you. but it feels like it’s everyone else who decides. decides that their meaningless and half-assed pursuits are somehow okay but yours isn’t.
am i supposed to just let the ideas die? what happened to the life of the mind. i literally have nothing better to do. i could make more money and work myself to death but i already have one job and i like it. i just don’t watch tv. i don’t want to. it’s boring. there i said it. it’s fucking boring. except when there’s company. when there’s company, it’s entertaining and enjoyable. that’s how i feel about it. maybe if i really loved alone time with my tv, i’d be too busy for art. it’s practically sacrilegious to say that out loud. i wouldn’t want tv gone forever. it’s just not what every person who exists on this planet is here to do with their time.
making art is not selfish and self-centered just by default. art is for others. as much as for the self, maybe more so. art is made with audience in mind. with communication in mind, however abstract. i use myself but i am not writing to me. I am writing to them. i am writing to you. i am writing for you. when i write, it is you i am thinking of. art is made because humanity desires it. humanity needs it. but i fail. like anyone i fail. so i keep doing it. i show up to fail. i hope the next time i will get it right. it takes a lifetime. but that’s okay. art is made to make the world a better place. a richer, more beautiful and more honest place. imagine a world entirely devoid of art. seriously.
you can be a megalomanic doing any sort of occupation in life. not just art. look at the world’s wealthiest people and how we admire them and excuse their flaws. and then look at poets. it’s REALLY damn hard to be an egotistical poet. maybe for a short time, but it likely wouldn’t be sustainable. poetry is humbling. nobody cares, at least in real life. “nobody” as in, society at large. in most cases it doesn’t pay because the world does not respect you enough to think that you deserve it. it’s even harder to please a crowd than in music, or visual art also. but these are all tricky occupations. you do it because you want to and you feel it is needed. you need it. others need it too and you know it. even if it doesn’t always seem like it, others need it.
you show up as your inadequate self. you may never quite match that pre-filled idea that someone else hopes, and you are passed up for better investments. you are rejected over and over, and in so many nuanced ways. and you show up.
you know that the rest sucks even more. the alternative fucking sucks. so you get up and you start again.
they are fighting and
because the truth is it belongs
to no one.
anyone. that’s an
illusion. that’s the
but how does a
you don’t. you