I know a fella
Eats like a horse
Knocks his old balls
'Round the old golf course
You ought to see his wife
She's a cute little dish
Smokes like a chimney
And drinks like a fish
There's a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Oooh, baby, it's a big old goofy world
- John Prine, Big Old Goofy World
* * *
Sometimes the thing you are looking for is the thing you hold in your hand and keep setting down so you can go look for the thing you think you need. Happens all the time. We blind ourselves to our cures because they don't often fit the image we have of them. Like Melville's whale-line, we believe we must be dragged into the profundity of the sea in order to secure our treasure, our boon, the chalice of our torments. But truth is, it is usually a hell of a lot more pedestrian then that. What does take some balls is once you know it, once you recognize that you've had the answer in your metaphoric pocket the whole time you then have to act on it.
Whole 'nother ball of wax.
* * *
You know you're supposed to eat better than you do. You know booze can kill you and that some exercise will actually make you feel better. The smokes are killers, too, but we all have another, don't we? Another beer, another pack of smokes before we quit. One more McWhopper and I'll go for a run after my show is over. I mention all this not to hector or judge, but to draw an analogy about how we fucked fuckity fuck fucks are smarter than we allow - we know this shit, we know what's ailing us, we know how to fix it, too, because we're smart - but maybe we're too damn smart to actually do anything about it, too much up in our heads and not enough of being in our bodies, our world.
Forever looking for answers is a type of avoidance, a merry-go-round of altruism hiding our fears. There is a solid payoff to be searching. We grow smarter (though that is not the problem); we are fed on hope that what we are looking for can be found in the road up ahead; we tack on knowledge, and believe that is the thing we are missing. Except it is not. What is missing is the experience of living the life you have - just as it is. Meaning is not carved out of stone, but from the manner in which you engage your life, use your assets, burn up your days, hurl your body about.
Get this straight: you can go on the journey and still refuse the call.
Refusing the call is a waking death, a half-life, a nose pressed against the glass sort of life envying the dancer, but never daring to cut a rug. You can travel the world a hundred thousand hundred thousand times and still never move.
* * *
The answers are easy, love. We've known them a long time. They are written in books, sung in songs, sculpted and painted into beautiful objects. They are born and raised and grow into men and women we hope are a measure braver, kinder and gentler than we are. The answers litter the field. It is all in the doing and what you are willing to do to unfuck the fear that has held you.
I knew a fella, a hale fellow well met, indeed. Life poured out of him: loud, generous, imperfect, willing, ready for a drink, glad for a smoke. No doubt he suffered in the middle of the night as well. No doubt tragedy touched his life as it touches all lives: a child lost, cancer from the smokes, a broken neck. This is so. This is so. This is so. And still when he saw you again after too long apart you were always drawn into his orbit of mirth, his willingness to laugh despite the pain, to be so very glad you were together again for he was a man who held the world in his smile, his appetite - not hunger, but appetite - and you, lost you, wanted to know his secret in order to be like him. And therein lies the answer: it is the distance between hunger and appetite. One is forever on its back foot and the other is forever leading the dance.
You have what you need. In this vale of tears, this whore of an island in God's sea, you have everything you need. You can stop chasing your tail, stop sliding after esoteric solutions. The mystery is here: you are alive - act accordingly.
Enjoy this despite your losses.
* * *
Oooh, baby, its a big old goofy world.
* * *