Sunday, May 27, 2012
Running Through The
We laughed my friends and I
We swore we'd be together
Until the day we died
Until the day we died
- Tom Waits, "Innocent When You Dream"
* * *
It feels like something is arriving, some new thing is on its way, but that's not right at all. Now that I think about it, there's nothing new headed my way, but rather something very old and I am simply new to it. I don't have hold of it yet. It is a bead of mercury in the sink, or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or a song by Tom Waits. It is miraculously old and it is present, always emerging, always ready to emerge from its debasement.
* * *
We live in a graveyard. Our lives are simply the thing before we are humus, soil, earth - stable. And what do we do with this moment above ground, before we become ground, before we are ground down into the ground? We whistle through the graveyard pretending it does not exist. How else to explain the strife, the horrors we inflict on ourselves, on others through our misplaced sense of self - either too grand, or too puny? We are buggers for misunderstanding the brevity of our transit. Our lives, your life, my life, the one life in our hands, is scarce, infinitesimally so. But it is also everything: the sum of our capacity to imagine.
And what have you been imagining for yourself?
The speed with which all of them vanish–the objects in the world, and the memory of them in time.
You and I will not last very long. Memories of our lives will fade within a generation, or simply be a name added to a family tree in two generations hence. And so it is. It is so. But so what, my dear fucked friend? So what. You live now, the endlessly emerging present and the question before you is not about what others will remember about you after you are gone, but what will you do with this one moment - the only one you'll ever have?
Here's an answer: Run through the graveyard and laugh with your friends. Swear you'll be together until the day you die.
* * *
The boneyard is always open and is always taking in new customers: in Guatemala in 1982 government troops killed every man woman and child in the village of Dos Erres - they bludgeoned them with sledgehammers and threw them down a well, filling it with bodies; in Syria just the other day troops slaughtered over 100 villagers - over thirty of them children; in nursing homes across the land the forgotten fade out every day; Rwanda, Armenia, the genocide of the North American people, the Holocaust, the man-made famines in Ukraine, Somalia, the Khmer Rouge, Sherman's march to the sea, beheadings in Ciudad Juarez... if we did not decay there'd be no room for the dead, and this is how it has always been. It is how it will always be.
There is nothing new under the sun.
When the pablum pushers tell you that wishing will make it so ask them about Dos Erres, ask them about wishes snuffed out by cruelty. Their only answer is to blame the victim - they didn't wish hard enough.
Here is what I wish for you: friends that you can run with for as long as you can run.
No one person can stem the tide of our tribal blood lusts - be it at the point of spear, the end of a gun, or atop a political movement. It can't be done. The wheels have always been falling off because those who lead are expressly the ones who must not. Pride, faith, certainty and vanity pave the way to hell, not good intentions.
So run through this graveyard with your friends.
Pledge your troth to one another.
Make promises out of love and fidelity.
Caretake this moment - it is all you'll ever have.
Man's greatness does not abide in societal change, in new technologies, but in how a single individual manages to live a life of purpose and meaning in spite of and in the face of every sweeping change beyond his or her ability to control or influence. What you are left with is you and the choices you make. You can do nothing about the chaos that surrounds you, but you can reduce to perfect order your response to it.
* * *
It's such a sad old feeling
The fields are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream.