Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Turned My

I turned my pain into a simple plan
Harmony onward friend
Draggin' myself out again
Oh, through the lonesome valley, the lonesome valley
Oh, through the lonesome valley, the lonesome valley


- Jason Molina/Magnolia Electric Co., "Lonesome Valley"

* * *


The days we spend locked away from our lives are the days we spend spinning wool trying to justify ourselves for doing so. The weight and pain of our losses, our sense of being lost, of the everpresent feeling that we could have shown better never dissipates but grows in presence because we have chosen to hide in our suffering, our losses and misfortunes. We all do it. I think it has something to do with a basic misunderstanding of what we're to do with the life in our hands. Too often, almost everytime, children are raised to fall in line and do as they are told, to aspire for certain things and not other things, to conform to the larger structures they are born into. At a certain point, if you are lucky, you begin to come unglued.

Joseph Campbell said: "No one in the world was ever you before, with your particular gifts and abilities and possibilities. It's a shame to waste those by doing what someone else has done."

This is one of those truths that appears to be too weak and obvious to be considered as useful, but it may be the most practical thing of all.

The conformity that is baked into how we raise our children, how we were raised, is, it must be said, a type of love, an attempt to smooth out the spikes of loneliness, to bring us into a community where we can be certain of the rules and rewards. But, my best beloveds, if you are reading such a thing as Unfuck Your Life, then that wasn't the answer for you. Was it?

* * *

Much is made, and rightly so, of Campbell's description of the Hero's Journey: the call from everyday life, the adventure to reach a goal, the helpers along the way, achieving the boon and then the return back to the wasteland to share what has been found with those who might hear it. Beautiful stuff. It makes me envious of those whose lives follow that arc. Sometimes I try to imagine the course I've taken is that journey, but, in truth, it is not. 

There is another journey, one that is closer to the experience of us fucked fuckers: draggin' myself out again. 

Sometimes something as beautiful as the story of the Hero's Journey can become a leadstone, an albatross, an unwinking stare of unmet expectation: surely, this is my story; surely, now I have the roadmap. 

Maybe not so much.

The fucked are stuck and can't break free of the pain that has stopped them. Whatever the source of the pain, whatever the reason, we become stuck, anti-Billy Pilgrims, and can't get moving again. We mount terrific efforts to overcome ourselves and we stutterstep and lunge forward, only to be stopped just a few steps ahead because we are still carrying that weight of our fuckedness with us. We are heroic in the effort. We do this because we still misunderstand the life in our hands. We cherish it. We protect it. We fear for it. 

Instead, we should be using it up like spendthrifts.

* * *

To come to the end of your days with gas in the tank is the only sin possible. 

Use your life up. 

We are forever hedging our bets, still trying to conform to norms we did not create, still trying to thread the needle of respectability, success and responsibility. The only thing you are responsible for is your freedom and the manner in which you use your days.

Turn your pain into a simple plan: harmony onward, friend. Draggin' yourself out again from your hiding place and meeting life full on. Your life. The one in your hands. The one you are responsible for. Use your days the way a thirsty man uses up water. And your pain? Well, that's simply the price of admission to access your freedom. It is part of your story, but it isn't the only story out there. 

You need to hear as many stories as you can. 
You need to tell yours as you make your way through the lonesome valley.

That is the way of the unfucked.

* * *

PS: None of this means to destroy yourself as Jason Molina did. It means to quit fearing your death and live while you can. The frightening thing is not dying. The frightening thing is not living.

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