CALEB JOSEPH WARNER
I feel pretty unneeded which makes me think that maybe I have gone at life the wrong way.
But as Leonard Cohen says or said (because he dead), “I don’t need a reason for what I became. I’ve got these excuses, they’re tired and they’re lame. I don’t need a pardon, no no, no no, no. There’s no one left to blame. I’m leaving the table. I’m out of the game.”
The difference for me is that I’m still in the game and will be for the next few decades. Fingers crossed.
But when your morning regularly starts at 1pm and you have so much dissipate work, it is pretty easy to feel unneeded and then to insert the excuses that make it seem like other people are to blame. Half of my life has become a dream, one extended dream, where love and futilities unrealized in life come to the forefront. So much dreaming is not good for us.
Maybe I should get a real job. This whole gig economy thing is not working for Caleb. How should we then love people? I think I could love people more easily if I were not dreaming my youth away.
And so someone could come along and light a fire under my butt, but I’m not sure what the right fire would be to get me moving. I feel content with the knowledge that all I attempt turns to dust in my hands. I do get things done, but as soon as I get them done, it feels like I have never done anything. Where is the evidence and proof of all my labor? Who cares?
Maybe I need someone there to shoot me every day of my life, that would be great. But then the man holding the gun to my temple would need someone there, like St. Moses, to hold his elbow up every day of his life. Ensure victory!
I’m only thinking out loud here. It is my tendency to feel totally depraved and anemic when I am not writing, a season in the wake. But in the wake of some great catastrophe I have unleashed on my own psyche, like writing a tremendously obscure albatross of a novel that to my deep shame has missing words and letters in the passages I wrote with my eyes closed (what a terrible idea), I simply feel cavernous and dead. It is as though I have swept the house of my heart and now a million things come to fill in the space that is going unfilled.
The difficulty is that I feel completely hopeless about my writing. I thought and assumed, like a sane person, that writing a novel would get me out of myself and restore my confidence. But now that I have written it, I almost feel sick.
I have woken up from a long dream, the writing of the novel. So it feels more or less entirely natural to sleep for twelve hours a day, dreaming, because that’s what I have been doing for a year. And not a year, but years.
It feels accidental that I write stories.
As John Cale says, “You’re a ghost, la la la la la.”
But I will go and do what I always do when I feel this sinful, which is to pick myself up and to say that I should stop complaining about my chosen lot in life, that I should go and look at other people in the eyes and ask them what they are all about. I should go and take one or five of those unrealized ideas and realize them.
I have plenty to offer, but the difficulty is what will contain these offerings. If you have breath and life and enfleshed soul, you have love to give this world. But you have to fight for that love. I do love writing and I do love telling stories, I love being in that web of unconscious connections, hanging there between the words like a spider, waiting to see what truth I might catch. And it isn’t up to me what gets caught in the net. What is up to me is setting the trap and, feeling with my hairy spindles the wriggling of terror so many inches away, pouncing with the poison of my humanity to capture it.
Picking myself up means that I have fallen, fallen because of exhaustion. So I need to eat, need to work and make the sleep worth it. But I still ask, what will contain my offerings? Will the world contain my offerings, will I contain my offerings, or will it just be anyone who passes by?
By God! Some people have wives and children, some people have businesses and normal jobs in cubicles and all that security and even they wonder where to put all their good things. So where do I put my gifts?
People wonder where they should be, which is a way of wondering what they should be doing. But when it is obvious what you should be doing and when it is obvious what you have, because we all have something, you have to ask a different question. Where should that work be? As in, where should that work go?
Considering my state as dust as sloth as actualized perishability, I crave imperishable vessels.
Some untouched tomb in the desert, covered over with sand for thousands of years. The golden tables might gleam still in torchlight.
A myth. Orpheus, you undying lovable sucker!
A McDonald’s french fry.
The hands of God. After his patient hands crafted the world, they opened and spread out to me.
Tattooed across his index finger were the words, “Many, many tickles for your heart, son.”
And tattooed across the line of his palm were the words, “You have been weighed, measured, and found.”
And tattooed on his wrist was a goblet. And around the rim of the goblet it said, “He who has little will give much.”
And there was a flaming puncture through each hand, as if from a pen or nail, but the flames restored the flesh that had been lost. And when the flame dissipated, there were scars. And the scars were like parchment and there were words written across the scars. And the words were, “My favor rests upon you. I establish the work of your hands.”
But I said to the hands, “Then why am I dying so quickly?”
And he said, “Come up here!”
And I said, “But I’m afraid you will close your fingers and crush me in your fist.”
And he said, “Come up here!”
And I climbed into his hand and the scar rose and became a pillow for my head and the hands flew up into heaven and the trip was long. I pulled up the words traced across the line of his palm for my blanket. I ate the words tattooed across his index finger for my food and I started to laugh.
I laughed, because I did not know where I was going, but I knew where I was and who I was with and what must happen after all these things, these perishable things and dying things and petty things and a life of many dreams.