Sunday, June 10, 2012

We Can Only

Abdulrahman Zeitoun/Josef K
We can only do the work, he tells Kathy, and his children, and his crew, his family, anyone he sees. So let us get up early and stay late, and brick by brick and block by block, let us get that work done. If he can picture it, it can be. This has been the pattern of his life: ludicrous dreams followed by hours and days and years of work and then a reality surpassing his wildest hopes and expectations.
   And so why should this be any different?

- Dave Eggers, Zeitoun

* * *

What is the pattern of your life, my friend?

I was talking with my brother the other day and told him I had discovered, at this late date, that my one true ability, my one preternatural gift is the ability to endure, to withstand, to be the last man standing. But that begs this question: to what end? Of what use is this ability unless it is applied to some cause, something other than merely remaining?

What use, indeed.

* * *

For must fucked folk it is easiest to dream, to imagine, to fantasize about how life could be if only... The ludicrous dream is second nature to them, but it is something less than half the equation, no? Unless that dream is wrestled into existence through doing the tedious, day in day out work of applying one's self to that dream, to bringing something into existence that had not been there before, it is better for you not to dream at all. Better to eat, drink, fuck, sleep and die. You will be happier, and then you will be gone.

If you are going to indulge in dreaming you must be willing to work - everyday - on all things.

Brian Eno says beautiful things come out of shit, out of nothing, out of unpromising beginnings and if people could just fully understand that they could live a different kind of life - one made more confident because nothing arrives fully formed. All things are tended, given room and attention and effort. To want beauty is meaningless. To work for it is the source of all beauty. This strikes me as the most wonderful thing I have ever heard.

Your life awaits your effort and will return to you the effort you put in. In spades.

* * *

Work is confused with labor. Your labor is what you are paid for. Your work is who you are. Getting the two to line up must be pretty sweet, but is not essential. What matters is that you do your work everyday. Take the nothing, the shit, the not very promising beginning and work with it everyday and transform it into something else, something new, something that needs to be given away, given to others so they might have more confidence in their lives. This pattern of something from nothing is the core of our existence, is our natural pattern: from a twinkle in your father's eye to a being and then back into the dirt of the cosmos we come from nothing very much and acquire life, purpose, meaning along the way to our graves and in our graves release back to those who knew us the confidence to try again to build something out of nothing.

We are magicians, conjurers, charlatans, true gods of sound and rhyme. Our lives are rhythms of creation. This is the pattern. This is the life we are to live: creating that which had not been before, but could only be because of our hand.

But fucked fuckers everywhere only get so far as the dream. Buddhists call these folk hungry ghosts. They are the zombie apocalypse: they endure, but are dead to the reasons they might live. The only reason there is to live is to build brick by brick the life you would have. There is no success to point to, no end point where you can retire. You can leave your labor, but your work is inside you. You fuck yourself when you try to run from it, when you place it behind your labor, when you dream only.

* * *

I have endured only to tell you this: when you are there, facing the silence of a blank page (whatever your page may be), and you plunge, fall, step, dive into that blankness and emerge with something, something did not exist just a moment before... well, happiness and suffering recede as categories and you are electric and alive - part of a pattern that stretches back beyond time. The price of admission is the doing, not the dreaming.

* * *



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