Thomas Paine tried to usher in the Age of Reason. Hippies tried to usher in the Age of Aquarius. Then came me. All I can do is age.
I am filled with false hope at the moment. This might be due to the fact that the day is still young and nothing bad has happened yet. I feel like I’m trying not to be fucked up. Really, truly, I do. And I’m trying not to fuck up by fucking others up.
On any given day I feel like I’ve smashed myself on the rocks of indifference, like I’ve lashed myself to the wrong mast with the wrong sail and then headed off in the wrong direction. I’ve crashed into a lonely desert island, and am about to slide from the brine-slicked crags to vanish over the waterfall at world’s end. But today? Today, so far, I feel pretty alright.
It was in my teens that I made a terrible discovery. I discovered that a man could cry. That man was my father. His tears were for my mother’s brother. I’d entered the room to find him laid out on his bed, hands pressed over his eyes as if to hold them in. Really, he was only trying to hold in the pain. It seemed an unconscious act of self preservation, as if to prevent pain itself from seeping out and consuming him. But it was already too late. My father’s face was wet with tears and loss had clearly eaten him up from the inside. It was a powerful moment that unearthed deep, unspeakable things within me. I became afraid of dropping into that abyss at the edge of the earth.
Johnny Cash once sang about a man who couldn’t cry. The man had been like that for as long as he could remember, and when he finally did cry it rained for forty days and forty nights. Then he dehydrated and died. Then his family, friends and associates began to fall victim to horrific happenings and in some cases met a tragic demise. Is this really how it is if a man dares to cry? The world falls apart? Everything comes undone?
Okay, now it’s beginning to feel like the last days again, and hope is waning… but of course it would. It’s false. And time marches on, goose stepping like a hateful Nazi over the memories of once held dreams, over my carefully buried hopes and fears. I’ve learned not to cry in the presence of others but it isn’t always easy to be so scrupulously contained. Sometimes you cry in the worst place at the worst possible time. We’re not all machines. It just happens and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
Let’s face it, the older I get the more emotional triggers I find. Take right now for example. I’m walking past a church sign that says we’re “too blessed to be stressed”. It’s probably a good thing I don’t own a gun. Not that I’d use it. Not really. I’d just think about those self-righteous godomites and get myself all twisted up and spiteful inside. And then I’d slink away to take a Pepto-Bismol or two. Or three. Hell, guns make me nervous anyway.
No, it’s far better to dwell on other things. Happy things. Like puddles. Look, there’s one now. My very own sky hole in the ground. I could just step off and drop through to the clouds beyond if I wanted to. It’s the lure of transcendence. I fall for it every time. Who needs to get on a boat to disappear? Just do this. Only… well…
Not really. Damn reality in all its bloody-minded literalness! God fucking damn!
by TONY SINGLE
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