22 April 2014

That Awkward Moment of Collapse

….when you realize that you are not living up to your promise and potential. Those terrible moments waking from a dream at godawful o'clock in the morning. A dream of collapse and loss, panting in panic muddled with fear. The seizure when you feel in your heart that you are so far from what you said you wanted to be that you will never catch up.

Pardon me. A moment, please. (Sighing)

I keep writing "you" as if I am describing the arc of your lives, you the reader. I should stop that now. What I should have written was "I". That awkward moment when I realized those awful things about my life. Not you. I cannot speak of these things in your life because I do not know the arcs of your lives in such particulars.

Waking up from such unsettling dreams as often as I have in recent weeks, it is my hope that no one of whom I know is experiencing the same. It makes for poor sleep, which in turn makes for sluggish days on which it takes far too much effort and time to get back to being in the moment.

These dreams have a recurring theme, that of losing all of my means of support. Cold sweat awakens me, wondering where my jobs went, how could I possibly lose them and the money that goes with them. I twitch awake, breathing hard. It is unpleasant, to say the least. I know these dreams have their roots in the unfortunate round of layoffs I endured starting in 2008, and the subsequent scrambling to find gainful employment. The question I cannot answer is, Why now?

What add a particular new shade of funk is that this unleashing of the succubi in my subconscious has manifested in the form of shame. Shamed by a sense of personal failure as a writer. In the cold grey sump of sunless mornings, imps have been whispering in my ears: "You will never be a professional. You squander any gift you might have possessed, you have not achieved meaningfulness as a way of life."

This is so disturbing that words are not sufficient to illuminate the heaviness in my heart. It is damning to hear those awful voices, to look back on what I have done, and think that perhaps the imps are right. Catchy titles, very short stories that exist in a near vacuum, the occasional flash of brilliance: these are things in which I perhaps have some facility.

Perhaps. Yet a solid body of work they are not. I have had a million ideas go nowhere. I have failed to produce anything I would be happy to call a book. A collection of short stories, maybe, if one cares to be generous of spirit. Yet disjointed fever dreams and notes scrawled on virtual Post-its do not an oeuvre make. Because of this, the small hours of the morning become tainted with anxiety swirled with disappointment bordering on self-loathing.

My mind overflows. My hand is stilled by a lack of ambition or surfeit of sloth, I am not sure which. The disappointment I feel fuels the crematorium of my dreams. I do not write this to depress or disturb any who may read it, forgive me if this has happened. This scrawling of mine is not a plea for pity, I wouldn't be so pathetic.

I write because of the dreams. I recently read truth from a favorite author of mine, who said "...honesty means nothing if there's no real risk to it, no self-examination". The dreams are forcing me to self-examine. I write this out of honesty, and I am enervated by what I have not done.

19 April 2014

Queen of Hearts

To spend his life
in service to the Queen
Seems all he'll ever know
Guarding the cradle,
sitting vigil at the tomb
Blood, a heart's sussurus

granting him life as fiat
In service to the Queen

13 April 2014

On the Unaccountable Sadness of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Morning (Sunday Meditation #39)

I find sometimes that a familiar song played solely on violins and such often leaves me with a desire to weep. A curious phenomenon that is not conducive to the conduct of business in the public sphere. While not given to frequent weeping, I am not a man that is afraid to let it vent if circumstances dictate.

Still, it is troublesome. Not the sort of thing that should occur on an otherwise ordinary Thursday morning. Sweeping the floor, tending the shop: the retail equivalent of the Buddhist practice to chop wood, carry water. Music played and the tune was familiar, although I could not recall its name. An instrumental version heavy on violins and cellos. I paused while leaning on the broom. A lump formed in my throat. There called a low voice in my head, asking why this must be so.

I had no answer to this homesickness. Perhaps it is the vestige of the little boy in me, or the mercurial passions of the Irish poet I hope lives on my heart. Maybe there is no difference between the two. All I know is that in chords I cannot name I felt a pull between those things I left behind and those things towards which I travel.

The song ended. I swept the floor, greeted the customers. The lump I swallowed along with the tears that never reached my eyes. There was new music in my head, it was good, I kept moving towards the light.

06 April 2014

On Not Being Able to Tie a Bowtie (Sunday Meditation #38)

Field notes, April 4th, 2014 at around 6:30 PM. Department store blues.

It was a jacket for which I was searching, not a blow to the heart. Then again, it was a department store and they are supposed to have everything you need along with a lot for which you have no use. Who knew that a bowtie could hurt so much, cut so deep.

The table was strewn with brightly colored swatches of fabric that glowed like jewels and cut like diamonds. Bowties! I have little to do with regular neckties, much less with old fashioned (yet cool) neckwear that requires a different approach to tie right and wear well.

That I do not know how to properly tie a bowtie was much less upsetting than the realization that followed: the chances that I will teach my legacy how to tie a bowtie are slim to none. It is true that I have a daughter, and it is not outside the realm of possibilities that someday she will want or need to know how to tie such a thing. Yes, my head gets it.

But. There are always conditions to most things in life. The condition in this case of an accidental encounter with bowties is that I will not teach my son how to tie them. It is a ritual I most likely will not experience, this handing down of traditionally masculine knowledge and experience. 

It is not their fault, those bright scraps adorning the table, that as my eye was caught so was my heart, knowing that I don't know how to tie a bowtie. And I had not much incentive to learn since the death of my son so long ago.

Truly it has been over ten years since he slipped away from us, which may not be long in the scheme of things. Yet time and ties have ways to bind, even in an innocuous aisle of an ordinary store, when we realize what we miss.