Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Things Change He
- Raymond Carver, "Everything Stuck To Him"
* * *
The accumulation of decisions made, or unmade, decisions large or pitiably small, decisions made out of hate, made out of desire, out of fear or your finest intentions, made while the sun was going down, while you were drunk, or all too sober gather like dunes, bit by bit changing the landscape, altering what you thought you knew, what you thought you knew was there only to find it gone, buried, part of a time when there weren't so many decisions clogging up the view.
You are here today by the dint of such accumulations. Trying to trace back to the moment when the wheels came off is impossible. It is never so dramatic as that. The wheels come off because the bolts loosen over time, through neglect, unawareness or a a fevered hope they'll last a bit longer. The popping off is simply the by-product of fucking up in small ways over a long period of time.
But here's the news: even this will change and change again and it will change without your realizing it or wanting it to or even if you do it will never come out exactly as you imagine it. Other people's accumulations get in the way.
So what is a fucked fucker to do?
* * *
You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man. If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.
I don't have much use for the idea of self-improvement. It is a shell-game of making you feel inadequate and if you only lived as someone told you to, well, you'd be a better you.You may be fucked, but I sure as shit don't think any of this is self-improvement. You don't need to be better. None of us do. We need to be complete. There is a difference.
Carver's stories reveal the effects of people not noticing. You can't read them without a shiver of self-recognition. Not all of them work, but that's not the point, nor is it the goal. The goal is to attend to the accumulations of grit and sand and silica that make up your life and use them to attend your days. Things change. Sometimes by your hand, sometimes as an effect of a long-forgotten choice buried under the weight of living, sometimes you never notice and when you look up everything you thought you knew wasn't that way at all. And sometimes you keep plodding on: lazy and careless.
Live long enough and you are presented with these choices: cut loose the past or be drowned in it, pretend you haven't fucked up and keep moving, carry it all with you as a penance, or use it to make something else.
* * *
Quit pretending all your dirt is gold.
Quit pretending all your gold is dirt.
Call things by their names and use what is at hand to unfuck your life.
It is solely for you to decide what to keep and what you'll throw away.
It is solely for you to decide what to make of the life you've lived.
And remember, things change regardless of your attention or effort or intention. Your best work is but a season, but that is no reason to hold back. You, my dear friend, are but a season as well.
* * *