You Need a Bigger Theme
A long time ago there was a girl.
And the future wasn’t something meant to be made. We were just waiting for the thing we could already see, arrive. We lived our lives together. That way. With few doubts. Directed.
It was the first time I’d ever experienced that inevitability with someone else. My parents would tell you, if you knew them, that I’ve rarely lacked for ideas. I am — and have always been — sure. (As my dad says: “Rarely right, never in doubt.”)
I don’t know any other way to live. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t changed over the years. My ambitions have shifted. My lifestyle has surely turned. My sense of knowledge and art and intelligence are radically different today than they were 19 years ago when I first met the girl.
And for a long time, the ending of that first inevitability — the crushing, mind-warping, heel-to-neck strangulation — haunted me. It stayed with me, fortified a sense within myself that the inevitable required a sense of loneliness. Solitude. Otherness.
Without it, my sense of purpose and direction swirled off course. I was rarely right and always in doubt. I set off on a journey into the world, convinced that the only way I would ever find that future — my part of the future that seemed to meld so easily with the girl’s future — was by charting my own course.
Like Kung Fu’s Cain. Like Dr. David Banner. Like Mad Max.
Alone. Searching. Never able to stay. To stop. Knowing that next week there would be a new place. A new trouble. A new solution.
I retreated into the world of words. I found friends amongst the giants who have come and gone, leaving behind the essence of who they were. The thoughts that reach out across time and space. Guideposts for others like them.
And I find myself finding comfort in having those words around me. Having the stories of the people who wrote those words around me. Having them sit next to me, reminding me that there are others — were others and will be others — who show up on the Lonely Blue Planet, who feel disconnected to the world around them while simultaneously feeling inevitable about their existence.
Without realizing it, in the midst of that descent, I was charting a way back home with those friends. And now I am more at home with them, these writer friends of mine. The ones who have gone. The ones who are here. The ones who haven’t gotten to us yet.
Which all feels more real to me than the fantasies we make up about our lives. Or at least the fantasies I lived with. The ones borne as our minds wander towards in those slow, dark moments as the sun sets on the horizon and we slip the surely scars of the lives we didn’t lead.
Which I guess to some sounds sad. At least it sounds sad enough that people keep asking me if I’m okay. It’s hard to convince them that I’m fine. I’m happy. In a melancholy way.
The good kind of happy. The one that has some sadness attached. The sadness that comes from losing something, but realizing that it’s that kind of sadness that lets you be happy. Unsad happiness is unnerving. It’s not real. Untested.
The blue happiness feels. There’s a linearity to it. A connection to real things gone by and real things yet to come. Inevitable in the sense that time marches on. Not inevitable in the sense that we float along in a river unable to control our movements.
The good sadness. The good inevitability. The good melancholy.
All of that let’s me be alone around people. It lets me forge more nows without giving up the idea of the past and futures. I can hang with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jay Gatsby, with my family and with the life I don’t yet know.
It’s eased the burdens of the past. It’s released my worries and judgments for today. It’s unlocked the way I think about the future.
Tabula Rasa. Every day anew. Every day — every moment — earned.