Certainly I enjoy moments of blesséd epiphany, clarity and confidence. Everyone does. Sometimes I even feel that maybe I am graced with way more than is my fair share of these sacred intervals wherein complexity and opacity and difficulty dissolve, evaporate. Like fog is dissipated by the morning sun.
Like when I rode through Saint Germain dés Pres at sunset early this year, Brandenburg Concerto Number Two on the radio, the world vibrant, full of light, color and… possibility. Approaching the Seine, I felt… invulnerable, complete. In the game. Where I was supposed to be. Doing what I was supposed to do.
But then? Then there are the other moments- like tonight- alone in my studio.
When I arrived it was afternoon, but now I sensed the darkness outside. I was lost to my surroundings; there was no immediacy. I found myself not in the world but rather in my head… feeling overcome, oppressed by something so much more than mere solitude (which I normally treasure, require, in blocks of hours and days). No, this was classic alienation and apartness. This was what LONELY looked like- a scratched and grainy negative or torn black and white print, a heavily contrasted mockery of transcendence.
What I knew with brutal certainty was that… time was running out. That this whole [mis]adventure of ‘being alive’ was now only a dozen or so more border crossings away and… then I thought:
Why do I fucking bother?
I mean, I’m unaware of anyone else joining me in this desperate charge over the top. No one on my radar who’s out in the alleys singing this weary tune. No one else that I know seems so encumbered by principle, by the relentless need for proving something, for creating, executing, challenging, battling, risking everything for…
For what precisely?
Well, precisely for love.
Love of my sons, of our sons and daughters. To do battle for their fucking well-being. For their fucking future.
No, sir… I don’t see anyone else putting it on the line for… for… the cause. For the adventure, for romance. No one else leading with their chin to demand opportunity, to cry ‘freedom’, to praise dignity, to resist the siege against privacy, individuality, mobility, choice. No one carrying the torch for respect. No one else losing fucking sleep thinking about the third world mothers who fucking leave their own children behind in the Philippines/El Salvador/Tunisia caring for french/english/american whining entitled yuppie i.t./marketing/advertising parents. No one else acting like they’ve been punched in the solar plexus about the mind-boggling injustice.
No one else living by Yeat’s prophetic verse,
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And so… I stagger to my feet, slamming my laptop shut and breathe in almost fifty years of unceasing outrage.
I savor the headache building. I crave the unfiltered pain of countless injuries. I extoll failure. I perversely, but decidedly, thrill at the thought how massively WRONG I have been, how useless this wantonly pseudo-existential exercise in self-indulgent idealism has proved to be.
And then I…
gently pick up my 16 year old beagle off of the office futon, the girl who’s been limping thru her last days with diminishing sight, hearing, mobility, balance, who is succumbing to the inoperable tumors attacking her so relentlessly, I place her oh-so-carefully in my truck, whispering encouragement and praise into her perfect, floppy ears, and…
I drive south through the wretched L.A. night seeking something like sleep.
Because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.