I am aware of the self-gratifying superficiality of writing a “reflection on the past year.” A bit too aware, actually, to the point where I remained uncommitted to the whole enterprise until five days into this new one.
2013 was probably my most difficult year to date. I’ve had others that conceivably should have been harder (family tragedies, illness, premature babies) but somehow, this one managed to emerge the victor in some unofficial battle of personal emotional mediocrity. I suppose we all have those years as we get older. I suppose that’s part of growing and bending, or learning to bend.
I’m going to write this in two parts. The first (below) is scraped together from bits and pieces that I culled from my journal. In the end, it has emerged more as an exercise in expressive prose more than anything, a bit of homage to the mohawk-ridden days of hapless youth, but it does the job I guess.
The second part (which I’ll try and wrap up in the next day or two) is about what I have learned. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about my weaknesses. I’ve learned a lot about distraction, and what I believe is worth pursuing. I’ve learned a lot about mindfulness, and one or two things about being a human on the Earth with a bunch of other humans. Hopefully these things will help lead me and mine into this new year, which seems (as does every new year) to hold almost limitless potential. Almost limitless capacity for hope.
Part one: Everything is broken, or almost everything.
And so…this is the beginning. The beginning of the creation and maintenance of flow. Flow as a concept and as a discipline. Flow as a creative force, a gentle but subtly unassailable tidal wave (drip, drip, drip) that slowly, gently pushes against the elastic boundaries of consciousness, reshaping and reforming everything in the whole world.
Why write? Why think? Why consider every moment and every opportunity in the light of meaning?
They say “I don’t live for fun.” But do we instead live for fear? For the unknown but ever-present slavedriver of the patterns we are dictated?
It is time for me to consider the assumptions and presumptions of my youth. My wasted youth (the melodrama of over-emphasis, I am aware of this), one caught up in the pursuit of modern convention, not joyfully but with the loveless, lackluster lacquer of duty.
“Go to work” they say. “Develop a skill” they say. “Pay off your debts, buy a sensible house, pay attention to the schools” they say. “It’s foolish to throw away money on rent. “After all, a house is an investment.”
(Is it? Is it an investment to sink your roots so deep that it would take 30 years for those roots to be your own again?)
There’s a sweet, sweet sound to the siren song of stability, but isn’t stability, in the end, death?
For we know these things to be true:
Man must move to stay alive. The body that doesn’t move grows fat, weak, and dies. The car that doesn’t run, rots. The spine of the book that doesn’t open, splits.
Routine is an aggressive mistress. The bringer of Stockholm Syndrome servitude, unthinking monumentalism rearing its ugly head while we sleep, sleep in our cars, sleep at our desks, sleep in our houses at the outer rim of everything, surrounded by the other waking sleepers. “It’s how we do it, be a grownup!” they say. “Act like an adult!”
Meanwhile, our legs rot beneath our desks, and close behind them, our souls.
Why are are our windows closed? Why are our windows closed?
Frankly, we know what the respectable people expect of us. We know the conventions of modern middle-class man.
But do we not also feel the heat, tempered for so long, shrouded in the sinewy vapors of our insecurity and place, the heat of believing that we were not meant for this. Our pursuit, our molehills are pale reflections of The Pursuit, and what we desire (in our everyday hamster wheel lives) is not another room in our house to fill with more stuff. Not a bigger yard. Not another ski trip, slowly proceeding down the mountain with our minor league contentments, but instead the pursuit of real life?
I must once again reiterate that there’s no way to fix being human. We live in a delicate balance of systems, and pretend that we are in control, but in truth our very self (awareness, fear, love, desire) is the precarious tip on a pyramid built of marbles. This is why we need people. This is why we have to believe in God.
I’m afraid to sleep. I want to be awake.