I frequently find myself trying to shoe-horn my pursuit of glory into the same activities that I hope will keep me comfortable. It feels a bit like a mid-life crisis, or how I have heard mid-life crises usually happen: an increasing apathy towards alleged passions.
Last summer, I spent my time stuck between impossible ambitions and the inability to get anything done. There was the easy-to-grab excuse that “it was summer” and that “summer was my break”. The irony to that excuse is that I began my summer with a long list of plans/expectations for what I would get done. And the thing I learned last summer was how long good things take to make, em, good. Those things on my list I was just going to “knock-out quickly” ended up taking weeks, months, unfinished. Anyway, I’m not angry about it or anything. It’s not like there was any potential in it: join the mulch, splinters. The good thing about building the scaffolding before collecting the stones is that if the project fails, you have the wood to burn. And to carry on this bad metaphor: you can burn the wood to produce ash. Make lye, let it rain and bam you get a garden and not a stone structure. A little less grand, but more organic ferr sherr. And with my garden, I will build the green structures for hosts of ants,
which is something I have noticed. Ants kind of do this thing where they find big weeds in the ground and they’re like, “Woah, look Anty: this weed did the digging for us. Captain! Our Nest-Flag ought be firmly placed here, nowhere important and everywhere in the backyard.” What I usually do with weeds (when I remember) is pull them out and sometimes there is this explosion of ants onto my fingers and palm. I kind of laugh and feel bad because, you know, that weed was a home for them. Maybe they would have found a different home if I kept the weeds out of my yard. Anyway, at this point I am not sure where we are.
The point is: I was cleaning the dishes today and cutting a slow path with my voice from Sara Groves to Revivalist hymns to Psalms, feeling myself level up spiritually with devotion and the thought came into my head (as I sung) that I could write an ephemeral blog post. “Like the old days, you know. The kind of post you used to do in high school where words and ignorance ran high together and you never really edited.” And the thought absolutely delighted me, so here we are. There is a lot I like about this style of writing. It is a journal with an audience and it feels sufficiently novel with the slow demise of attention spans. And This Present Demise I firmly believe to be taking place (ztop with the pazzivez, Caleb!) in certain contexts. The most obvious place is in blogs. People, I find, just don’t want to find time for reading blogs. They feel a sort of impatience approaching anxiety in their chests, the kind of anxiety that grows when you are forced to take a five-hour car ride to a place you don’t want to go. Funerals are not fun, you think, and yet you could not spell them otherwise.
But here, I know, I am using the well-worn personal path of extrapolating from my experience to the cultural experience at lard. And I know it is entirely an unreliable methodology and people will rave (if I was important. Make me important!) with the qualifications. They exist. “Think of the video games, the hours people spend! Think of the, the, you know, the movies! People’ll sit down for like at least two hours. You call that short attention spans?” I will one-up you. Back when I had no life, I would play Fallout 3 for twelve hours straight. Don’t talk to me about short attention spans: I am the king of them and yet I have devoted most of my consumer-time with games. Live in the paradox, the gap, the obscenity,
which reminds me of the documentary I watched last night about Studio Ghibli, Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. I felt so inspired to create something after I watched it and after I watched it I promptly went to bed. This is one of the reasons why in so many of the short stories I wrote in high school, I would have my characters approach that εὐρεκα moment and before they hit it, they would fall asleep. In the grand scheme of my cosmology, sleep is something to be feared: it is the same kind of vortex of comfort that I find pulling me in from all directions. Sleep represents to me the thing I must avoid and cannot live without. It is for me like pleasure, or the pursuit of happiness. Hayao Miyazaki is featured in the documentary and he echoes what many men have echoed: the pursuit of happiness is worth nothing. We do what makes us suffer, we do what is in front of us and follow the courses of our habits,
which is maybe why I find my struggle with sleep so difficult. How are we supposed to get out of the habits when we don’t know where else we can go without a map? These habits in which we find ourselves are like our maps, not into the future (a boring dialog), but in search of our “clarity of consciousness”. And do I fear that my words sound like they were written on a spiritualist blog, read only by spam-bots? Yes: yes I do.
I guess what I am trying to say is that for so long, I have tried finding some way to transcend myself or to get out from the path into which I have locked myself. The locking-in mechanism, I think, is the desires I have chosen to grow and it is made more precise by the desires I have attempted to cut down. I fear, however, that this path will be one that will lead me into the vortex of apathy towards the green desires that got me there and the black desires that never die, but only shrivel up with the slow push away from habit.
All of this, of course, sounds far more depressive than should concern anyone. Miyazaki described himself as a manic-depressive creator, but I find myself having to describe my relationship with my suffering as a mountain-valley thing. You have seen this “thing” before in descriptions about any kind of Bird’s-Eye-View look on life, but it is only in the past year that I have felt the patten to indwell me. It has been useful to know, chart, and expect the valleys. If there was no room for them on the maps, if they were down-played, then each slow descent from Achieved Victories into the valleys would truly be apocalyptic. Every valley would be where I would say, “This is it.” It isn’t it, it is just it again. lolz. Dream in the cheeze, pleaze. Imagine a middle-aged prescriptive sort-of woman with dyed hair (our receptionist in this case) picking up the phone when you call the company Accent Airs (for the depressive) ending her financial dialog with those words, those soothing and gentle words, those words that mean everything to you, the key to you, “It isn’t it, Caleb, it is just it again. And we at Accent Airs will lead you to the Finale.”
Which sounds a lot like euthanasia, but I am not much into the idea. Suffering is not the greatest evil in this case (the case of moving forward); the greatest evil is the allure of happiness. I suppose this is what Paul means when he speaks of the works of the flesh and the pride of life. It is not that he is encouraging a transcendence, but encouraging a consistent suffering wherein the consciousness loses its sense of privilege and moves on to the responsibilities required by worship. All this for some dull-headed creepers, creeping across the earth begging for some way to get their glory-fixxxing in the stocking that year for Christmas (Red-Angry Santa, have mercy upon me, a consumer) and simultaneously desiring the kingdom of Footy Pajamas. To translate: glory and comfort. You just can’t get both,
which brings to mind the entire difficulty of disembodied glory. Just what glory are you looking for? Whose glory? Glory is the kind of thing that comes as a sort-of character trait. It is attached to personality and you certainly don’t have enough of that, o consumer (o footy-pajama-wearer! +3 perspiration) to get your daily allotment of glory. No, no, your glory comes later. Right now, you must serve the Meta-Machine, the Mega-Gentle-Machine, the one which invented machines, the one that tailored you neatly towards comfort as a means by which you can fight for him and he can laugh at the great joke that is you. He made us, so he could have something to laugh at and this will bother those who are not into their glory being trivialized. It is kind of like how I would imagine having a kid, you know? I mean kids are such jokes. In those early years, little Timmy would believe me if I told him red was yellow and yellow was red and soon he’d be reaching for the ketchup and telling me how much he hated mustard–I mean, grow up.
Of course, that stance towards my child would be paralleled with a deep love and affection out of which the humor of their dependence would grow. One can only hope.
What I am really looking for is a way out, a cheat code. I want to undervalue perseverance. What is it for, anyway? It is a virtue that comes in handy when you are required by circumstances to do the same thing more than once. Twenty years from now, I will be shaking my pale chubby fists at the bathroom ceiling: “Not the gym again!” And for dinner, McDonald’s,
although me and co. have agreed that McDonald’s just isn’t good–and not even in the bad way. As I get older, the appeal to get that good-gross feel from food lessens. This gives me hope: some useless desires can shrivel without me having to worry about it. This is the point where our hero discovers the Utility of Indigestion.
Anyway, I think I spend too much time considering death and the point of it. To spend an abnormal amount of time considering it seems to be a built-in trap to bring it on more suddenly and get less while I am here. So enough of it! The best way to counteract this over-emphasis on death, I think, will surely come from not playing Tetris anymore. As my roommate knows, my nightly liturgy of sleep always includes a game of Tetris. It teaches me the pattern of inevitability, I argued. But I can get that from my accidental visits to Wendy’s,
which is much better than McDonald’s.