In propria persona

"In his own person"

Crown of Thorns and Coke, #5

  • First, context determines everything. What is seen can be altered by the circumstances surrounding it, and the blanks will be filled in by the observer, however she sees fit.
  • Second, someone is always watching, so be prepared for any contingency. The elements may change at any moment, and very few endeavors require any sort of commitment. If the elements are out of alignment, the best response is to abort. There are limited resources, and many battles simply are not that. Recognize that decisions must be made, but observations are always present.
  • Third, speech is potentially as harmful as it is beneficial. The blanks will be filled in, whether I like it or not, and any attempt to learn what the blank is can be interpreted as ascribing meaning in its answer. It is far easier to simply not get involved. The alternative is spurious.
  • Fourth, the choices to speak and what is spoken must be reasoned and sensible. Nothing that is said can be unsaid. And although they may not hear or remember, the safest approach is to believe they heard everything, they remember everything. Keep in strict control of every thought to which voice is lent. The context will work both for and against. ‘Slow talk, fast thoughts.’ Silence can always be talked back, but the record is permanent, and often altered by the context. Just as they will see what they want to see, they will hear what they want to hear. Unless there is nothing at all to hear.
  • Fifth, only the most critical harm must be communicated, and I don’t believe that anything rises to that level. At least, not in any context prior to deep understanding and commitment. Absent that, there is no reason to undermine divinity. They will see what they wish to see and hear what they wish to hear, and there is no sense in presenting any weakness that they have not already presumed.
  • Sixth, there is a legitimate entitlement to seeking what I wish, and an obligation to do so. That may include passivity, if that is my want. The situation determines whatever path is attractive, and I have a duty to adhere to that, whatever it may be. There is a difference between pandering—pathetic and desperate—and acting as I wish, aloof and secure. As long as I am doing what I want, I cannot accuse myself of cowardice.
  • Seventh, the character I have is part of the character I am.
  • Eighth, movement forward, no matter how incremental, is glorious. The passion for failure has played itself out.
  • Ninth, almost no one is worth the sleep that I’ve lost. The time will always come when I hate each and every one of them.
  • Tenth, in what is now one-third of a century, no one has hurt me as much as I have. By now, no one would even know where to start. The cuts I have made and the scars I have opened have given me an immunity to any half-assed slings and arrows they could throw my way. I have killed myself a thousand times. Don’t think for a second that some moment of silence or black-second insult could make me bleed.

Crown of Thorns and Coke, #4

Before the candle burns past ability, I should make some effort to enunciate notions I’d perhaps regret later. But, when don’t I regret? It is among my defining characteristics. Never mind. That’s not important right now.

There are the thoughts that make the corners of your eyes shake, just a little. There are those thoughts that make your teeth hurt, just a little. There is an unforgiving sun and unsympathetic clouds that make you shrink, just a little. And there is all manner of fleeting, floating moments that restore your smile. But just a little.

There are those, both close and near, that offer support, advice, alternatives. Their intentions are pure, to be certain. But the pitch and timbre are just…off. They mean well, but something still misses the mark. Does it matter how one falls down? “When the fall is all there is, it matters.”

You’ll get no advice from me, someone who knows you within parameters clear and comfortable. I can empathize in spirit, if not in fact. And you know as well as I do that it won’t get better until it gets better.

Crown of Thorns and Coke, #3

I could offer all kinds of epiphany-laden remarks about discovering some truism this night, something that would help me make better decisions in the future. But, I’d only be kidding myself. On balance, nothing actionable has come from any of this. It’s all just been a ploy, born that first night.

I won’t lie. There have been a few moments that made me think at the time and shortly thereafter that it was in some way worth it. But, since I have likely spent close to two thousand dollars here in the past four months, I can’t really claim to have come out on top. I’ve had five encounters that stand out. I made a friend who survived a week. That’s what two grand bought me.

No matter how fearful I am upon waking, there is always a moment before the day really begins that I have some kind of hope and optimism. It goes away soon enough. And by the time I again give in to the fitful sleep that seems to punish me more than rejuvenate, I am again drowning in and swinging from regret—disbelief that I really should be here, that I really should be now. That I really should be.

A diagnosis of catastrophe would affect me little at this point. Maybe it would validate the reluctance with which I acknowledge some place for me in this whatever. All so simple and ignorant and boring. Even now, in this world of shit, I’m the stain. No, this clearly isn’t working anymore. It has been longer than I can even remember. And what was it then? Was it ever really worth it? This time, I don’t think so. I really don’t know that I have gained anything that I wouldn’t have gotten by staying in my cave. Fuck Plato.

If nothing else I traded poisons tonight. I got some of it out, replaced it with something (oddly) more socially acceptable. Tomorrow will be as today and yesterday. There will be a minute I feel good, before the sun has risen. It will burn away in time, and I’ll find myself again in this place, praying—praying—for that which others take for granted. I will seek and hope, silently, while screaming my dismay in penmanship that’s always made me feel uncomfortable. A bright moment or two may surface, but I assure you, my first thought upon waking will be deciding who wins: fear, regret, or disappointment.

Crown of Thorns and Coke, #2

Meanwhile, another there-but-for-the-grace-of-god moments happened a couple days ago. Obviously I’m not as bad as that guy. And hopefully I’m just paranoid in my concern over others seeing parallels. But anytime shit like this happens I feel the need to be overly gregarious and affable, lest someone calls the police.

There have been two sources who suggest I should revisit ideas from the past. Of course, I am absolutely reading more into everything, just like I always do. I shouldn’t completely foreclose the idea—she knows more of the flaws than I could explain to any stranger. And ultimately, I thinkĀ that is what I’m looking for. Acceptance. That’s been more difficult to find than I thought it would be. Maybe there is some benefit in going more metacognitive. This entire week has been has been nothing but poor decisions, consciously made. I knew better, every step of the way. And I still kept doing that which I knew I should not do. I’d put up a fight for a little while, but I failed each and every time. It didn’t even seem like a surprise when it happened, either.

It’s too soon to say with confidence that that whole thing is done. But, I’ve gotten pretty good at picking up on whatever it is on the tail end. I have not been wrong so far, except maybe in the initial optimism. After that, though, I’ve been right every time, right on time.

If nothing else, that asshole in Pennsylvania has shown me something of my own understanding of the situation. There really is no confusion any more. I don’t throw my hands to the sky and plaintively ask, why not me? It’s because I don’t try. And when I do, I don’t present anything more engaging than a maudlin, arrogant, stifled, strident, austere megalomaniac. And I know I’m doing it. I literally know as it’s happening that I am destroying whatever could be. I see the ending before it even begins. The problem bigger than whatever need I feel in doing that is the inability to stop it as it’s happening. It’s not like some kind of freight train coming my way; I’m the one doing it. Maybe I was wrong earlier. Shit, I can’t even remember anymore. There is some inconsistency. Who knows?

I’d question the speed with which I chose to think the worst, but there is no mystery left in that. I’m as incurable as any pessimist, and the effects thereof have been so ingrained I don’t even notice when the knee jerks anymore.

There is a tornado element to it: hopeless pessimism comes at the cost of hopeless optimism. The sun ends up rising and setting a thousand times every day. Whichever wins is only a matter of what time it is when I decide to give up for the day. It’s almost unnerving how impressionable I still am.

There is no thorn in the paw, no simple and single thing to be pulled out, cut away, smoothed over. There is no solution to be sought, discovered. I don’t even know where to begin. There is this inescapable need—almost a mission—to build myself up, then destroy myself to less than I was before. I don’t even know what I need. I don’t even know what I want. There are the things I’ve led myself to believe, but I trust my voice less than those of all others. I don’t trust anyone. Not because I think they’re lying; because I think they don’t know. I don’t believe anyone knows anything.

The skepticism is helpful, I think, at times. There is rational safety in not falling for whatever it is that we want to be true. But maybe—just maybe—there is a time and place for such things as faith. In a sidebar, there is a split second that I feel like the most lethal thing in the world, but I choose not to advertise it. Anyway, there may be a venue for faith. I am anathema to even write such a thing. I am fully incapable of comprehending it. I don’t even know where to start. It seems to me that the cost of seeing when your eyes are closed is an abandonment of some kind of self. And that I am simply not willing to do. It may not be a concern in the present discussion, but it is still difficult to contemplate. I’ve never put much value on filling the empirical void with whatever it is we wish to be true.

So, then, perhaps this is the price to be paid. A weltanschauung that really hasn’t served me that well anyway. Even a data-driven analysis leads me to confusion and poor choices. That’s not to suggest that the strategy is fatally flawed. All I know is that it hasn’t exactly worked out for me. Maybe nothing ever will. If nothing else, I can draw comfort from the fact that I don’t think I’ve hurt too many people too much. No, the majority of my damage has been internal, Maybe the worst I have inflicted has been discomfort. Even still, I am sorry. The man unseen, unknown, unlamented…never hurt anyone. If I can’t accomplish what I have spent a lifetime beholding, the very least I can hope is that no one else felt sad. That asshole in Pennsylvania—how the fuck could you blame them? It’s not their fault. It’s ours. It’s our fault. We have enough inherent potential for some kind of thing. And if what we feel is available to us is somehow less than what we would seek, so be it. Either we need to step up and try with everything we’ve got to be more like whatever it is that they want, or we need to accept those who find us unobjectionable, whether we contemplate their divinity or not. Either way, it’s not their fault.

You really fucked us, you know that? Some of us choose to be by ourselves, sometimes. Some of us are so flawed that we would worship the first to take a chance. Some of us are just trying to understand an unpredictable world. You made us all monsters.

So, thanks a lot. Now every quiet guy feels more alone than ever. We’ve gone from overlooked to overscrutinized. When we once worried if we were even seen, we now worry if we’re feared. They are not the enemy. They are the treasure. Thanks for making it harder for the rest of us. Asshole.

Crown of Thorns and Coke, #1

I can no more easily identify the problem than I could suggest a remedy. I’ve read that depression is just anger without enthusiasm. That sounds about right. If there’s one thing I am distinctly lacking, it’s enthusiasm. For anything. Anything at all.

I whine about being invisible, then tremble when I’m seen. Not a lot of it makes sense, and I just flashed upon a tense moment of discomfort, the likes of which most would envy. I can forecast no change, and it makes me question any real place for me, anywhere near the rest of them.

Benefit could come in accepting and acting upon that notion. What if I just let go? What would happen if I just stopped trying to participate in a system whose rules I don’t understand, and whose value I fail to recognize? What if?

Well, in the first place, I must concede that it would be a lot more difficult than I’m letting on. No matter what, I always have some kind of fixation on something. Always. And in the absence of anything viable or appropriate, I’ll hook onto something breathtakingly stupid. The list is too long to contemplate. And in some dumb way, I was even in that place less than 24 hours ago.

That’s a disease I know I can’t just cure. With how long this has been a notion of pursuit, I know I’ll never escape the dumbness that follows my damned eyes. It’s always going to be this way. Sure, there may be solutions provided by others, but I don’t know. And normal is hard to fake, as they say. I really wasn’t expecting so much of…this. So much of this tonight. I really should run away.

I wonder why I don’t. What do I think is going to happen? One obvious reason I’m still here is hope that I’ll have the opportunity to make an allocution. I’m not sure why that would be important to me. It would probably do more harm than I think it would. If nothing else, it could provide a reason to be enjoined from here. The addiction is waning. The fix is drying up. The reasons are dissolving.

Then what?

What would I do then? This has been the most viable attempt at normalcy I’ve made in quite some time. That is fucking astonishing that this is what passes for normal in my head. I really do live somewhere in the Oort Cloud, don’t I? I really am a silly breed apart. I think this is normal? This?

I’m putting a stop time in the bottom of the next. This is working even less than I thought it would. In fact, it is becoming harmful. That happens a lot, but usually I’m too drunk to notice. And I definitely can’t get to that place again. Not for a while at least.

Maybe I should try to accept what is, this sui generis abomination. All that is for the rest of them. All there is for me is some kind of absurd fiction. That’s all there ever was. I just keep forgetting. Funny the times when I remember. The thought experiment is not turning out the way I hoped it would. Which is to say, exactly how I knew it would.

I need to watch that movie again. There is a strong identity I share with that character. He redeemed himself. Then he got dead. I’ll have to keep that part in mind. Nevertheless, if I’m uncomfortable seeking my own fiction, I might as well assume someone else’s.

Never mind. That part finds its own level. I don’t need to plan or design. That part just happens, as it always does. The difficult part is trying to keep separate.


God and I are a lot alike.

Neither of us believes in a power greater than our own. Neither of us has much faith in what we create. And neither of us knows exactly where we end, and luck begins.

I stopped thinking a God was a thing sometime around second grade. The pillars of light punching through spotty clouds in the southwest lower Michigan spring were like ropes and staircases. Each column was a soul rising to Heaven, I thought. They must be. Then I noticed a pillar of sunlight was pointed at me. From etic to emic. The fourth wall broke. There was no Heaven. There was no God.

But it’s taken me thirty years to say that out loud. “There is no God.” And still I wait the lightning bolt.

See, mine is a superstition that lacks the grace and invention of balance. Prayer is useless. There is no glory to bestow, no righteousness to lift us, to save us. To rescue us. Your hope is a waste of precious and rare molecules. You could have used them to create. You could have used them to inspire. God never wrote a sonnet, or scored a film. God never did anything some guy didn’t say he did.

But speak no evil. Speak no harm. Don’t say that common word for flatus. Your mother hates that word. And if you speak it, bad things will happen to her. Don’t combine “God” and “damn.” You can say each, with a pause or a breath. But bad things happen when they’re put together, neither iambic nor trochaic.

You have all the power to destroy all that you love, child. It is your responsibility to keep them alive.

Be honest. Be true. But your honesty can annihilate everything that has ever meant anything. Be honest, but be careful.

God and I are a lot alike. We’re scared of the destruction we never meant to bring.