Saturday, January 15, 2011

As All Human

As all human things, especially the lives of men, are transitory, incessantly declining from their beginning, till they arrive at their final period; and as that of Don Quixote had no peculiar privilege from Heaven, to exempt it from the common fate, his end and dissolution came, when he least thought of it.

- M. Cervantes, Don Quixote

* * *

I have a prized possession, an object I value over all other objects: an 1820 four volume set of Quixote in full green Moroccan. The end pages are foxed, but the spines are pliable. The set was originally sold in Dublin by Grant & Bolton, Booksellers & Stationers, No. 1 Dame Street. I came into possession of it over twenty five years ago when I bought it from Booksellers Row on Lincoln Avenue. At the time I was without money and was in the habit of selling my books to Booksellers in order to limp a little further down the road. When I saw this set in the window I knew I had to acquire it and if it meant a month of rice and onions, then so be it.

Such is the power of certain objects on our imaginations.

My 25 year old self took to reading a bit each night out loud from this set to my best beloved as we lay in bed. These here were books, real books, with real heft and I felt like a Rockefeller owning them and I loved showing them off to her, and she, in her kindness, let me.

Such youth!

But why this personal history of an object? Because none of us has a peculiar privilege from Heaven, and if your life is fucked today must be the day you begin to unfuck it.

* * *

Soon this set of Quixote will leave my hands and belong to another. Maybe they will read it to their beloved; maybe they will spill wine all over it, but I will have no knowledge of it. The good that it brought to me will have been fulfilled while I was cognizant of that good - that is what makes it an absolute good to me. As Joseph Campbell says, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." And who I am is a guy who, in part, loves books, the physical presence of books as well as the miracle of what is contained in them: messages from the dead and dying.

And that knowledge is a leg up on unfucking my life. What, my fartlet, is that thing that helps bring you in line with yourself? What, in part, can you identify in the material world that echoes a knowledge you possess that exists well past words and simply is? Find it. Search it out. Let it remind you of who you are privileged to be.

And don't fuck it up.

But here's the good news: even though you have but one chance to live, you are privileged with as many Mulligans as you need while doing so.


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