Exploring the Depths of Human Experience


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Exploring the Depths of Human Experience

I write about what’s happened and happening.

I Sometimes Wonder & lots of times I don’t.

I sometimes wonder… when I fight off ruminations about sex and/or my team losing, and myriad more, moronic loops, what I should be thinking about and focused upon; you know, great thoughts, big shit, huge humongous piles of excremental enormousness and shit. This morning the line came to me: my job in life is to find the perfect words for… Everything and Every. Fuckin. Thing. That oughta keep me busy enough to fill my final days. And it sure as shit fills the shit part of this scatological dreamscape.

Interruptions

At Times

I.

There are times when we have to face the truth about ourselves. Facing both the best and worst. Ego integrity is the core component on the path to wisdom and as such, can’t be avoided in this work we’re trying/doing. Interruptions when I’m trying to write drive me crazy.

In truth, I could live in a cardboard box or a drainage pipe — I swear I could live under a bridge, eating off the fat of the land and all — I could live in some little shit-box studio apartment with roaches and mice and a guy named Buddy in the next-door room yelling at the faded wallpaper on 107 degrees August days as flies buzz against the filthy city window glass out of which my view would be a flat cinder block wall, paint-chipped and rutted. Just so long as I could keep writing, I could live ANYWHERE, and I would, simply to avoid being interrupted while writing.

But here’s the deal. I’ve been more than lucky but also VERY fuckin’ lucky. I live in a very nice home with lots of space and a swimming pool and a beautiful woman I love making me breakfast and dinner and drinking with me, pretty much every day. And sometimes she annoyingly interrupts my work. Like just now as Patti hollered down to me. Interrupting me AGAIN this morning, yelling down the stairs, for the second or third time today as I sit here trying to write. I was initially annoyed, as in thinking but thankfully not saying aloud, “What the fuck is it NOW!?”

Then she told me that the lab results from her recent annual wellness check-up had finally arrived, and she’s perfect, or at least “good” in everything, liver function, kidney function, all those function matters. This is great news because we are both 74 years old. And every annual wellness visit portends as great a likelihood of a death sentence as a clean bill of health.

My annoyance quickly went from thinking about all the horrible places I could put up with simply to do this work I love to avoid interruptions, to gratitude and thanks for wonderful news.

This house, Her place and our place, with the pool set at 86 degrees and the view, all the way over to Idaho, and our clean designer sheets on that new mattress — I think I’ll stick around even though she interrupts me sometimes — Thank goodness!

Once in a while, I remember where I’ve been for these last 30 years. NOT suffering. NOT in some tortured place, but in rooms where Patti and I have loved and lived and, looks like, we’re gonna have more time to keep doing so.

Ego integrity demands ownership of both the best and the worst of ourselves. The good news is that this gets a bit easier as we get older and as you grasp the truth that both warm sunlight and the shadows cast while standing in that sunlight have their own value and place.

II.

Sighing at the green bough of a houseplant, an old wash basin filled with dried flowers (decorative) — sighing to the pricey Persian carpet, the wall, a light switch, the stone fireplace, the hum of the air conditioner — I am drinking ice water — sighing softly to the sunlight divided by leveler blinds, the sound of birds at the birdfeeder outside — the newspaper, my shoes, the fabric of the couch the fabric of this life with its trade-offs — good deals, admittedly, yes, very good deals — yet I find myself sighing sometimes, just the same —

III.

Bottom line: Be wary of any self-anointed Antifa radical with his own swimming pool, especially a guy who seems to sigh an awful lot.

Sundowners?! Did You Say Sundowners?!

Okay fellow boomers, let’s be honest . . . even if it hurts a little

Awakening early, sometimes at 3 a.m., I lie in the dark trying to shut my mind off.

I think various thoughts, myriad feelings, partly in control, largely still in the grip of some dream mood worming its way through my brain into mind and spirit centers.

I begin a kind of mantra, a silent chant, an atheist’s Rosary to quiet my spirit and calm my anxiety. Until, eventually, convinced I haven’t slept a wink, I glance at the clock five minutes later only to see that now: it’s 5:48, almost time for coffee and writing. And for starting my next day/night cycle until the next 3 a.m.

Early in the Morning…

…and by early I mean in the middle of the night, awakening from deep sleep, stumbling towards the toilet to pee, more than half-asleep, most of my thoughts are like those of a very dumb adult or an ignorant child, often limited to some verse or chorus of a song, maybe a Beatles tune I first heard fifty years ago. And when I crawl back into bed and close my eyes a bit too awake to recapture that deep sleep I’d had before all this excitement. I started to think of brilliant poems I could write if I hopped up and wrote, which I never did.

I finally fall back to sleep. And when I wake up for good a few hours later, all I’ve got left is this poem. Welcome to the winter of my dis-incontinence, which may or may not be a word but welcome to it nonetheless.

The benefits of pain, loss and change

So, looking more closely at the difficulties of living in a wonderful, comfortable, and slightly luxurious setting and trying to write material from a life that survived more than enjoyed while in such an environment is one problem.

Flat-out, getting old and older and finally real fuckin’ old, and becoming a cliché of elderly, the ultimate cliche of aging, a “sundowner,” share a world for a writer centered in pain, loss and change.

As a writer who wrestles with the process of writing as an art form, as opposed to or contrasted with, say, a painter a tap dancer or some other artist, it is incumbent upon a writer to try and dig more deeply into the words, the language and the meaning of what we are writing, after all, writing is really just speaking without making sounds.

Everything we think and feel is fair game for examination and the role that bad shit plays in our lives and work is more than just fair game, it’s often the best and biggest game, the most treasured trophy of our lives.

My epic poem Sheehan has always felt to me like the best thing I ever wrote and the worst thing I ever lived, not the writing of the poem itself, although that was surely painful and difficult, the birth and sense of loss and the change my son Sheehan’s life created for me and everyone else around him and finally for the world as I told his story in the novel Stuck in Neutral, which became very broadly recognized for its impact on readers of all ages.

When I asked the Bing chat function to talk to me about pain, loss and change from the perspective of the benefits of these human difficulties, it took time to respond. I have an old piece of shit computer we call the UNIVAC, after the very first computers, those that came went in the back of covered wagons. But I honestly think it was the complexity of the question itself, about the benefits of bad things, that took so much time for the chat function to consider and to come back to me with this:

“I’m glad you asked. Pain, loss, and change are all difficult experiences that can be challenging to navigate.”

Glad I asked. Are you shitting me?

The Ai chat went on after that cheery greeting to add:

Pain, loss, and change are all difficult experiences that can be challenging to navigate. However, they can also offer opportunities for growth and transformation. Here are some potential benefits of each:

· Pain: Neuroscience research suggests that emotional pain may be more relevant to us than physical pain. The parts of the brain that process physical pain are very similar to the parts that process emotional pain. Volitionally retriggering emotional pain allows the brain to have the space to recode the event. In other words, by revisiting painful memories in a safe and controlled environment, we can reframe our perspective and learn from our experiences.

· Loss: Grief is a natural response to loss, but it can also be an opportunity for personal growth. By working through our emotions and learning to accept change, we can develop resilience and compassion for ourselves and others.

· Change: Change can be difficult because it often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones. However, it can also be an opportunity for personal growth and transformation. By embracing change and learning to adapt, we can develop new skills, perspectives, and relationships.

It’s important to note that everyone’s experiences are unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, by reframing our perspective and focusing on the potential benefits of these experiences, we can learn to navigate them with greater ease.

All of this feels true and accurate and does as good a job of explaining an incredibly complex human situation as any machine should or could be expected to say.

Of course, what’s missing is the moment-to-moment agony and joy and astonishing confusion in the mystery of the human journey. How can a lovely, safe, comfortable place to write and do your best work be every bit as dangerous as a shithole? How can losing power in every sphere, cognitively, physically, maybe not spiritually, but in every other aspect of your life simply losing parts of yourself to where you wind up wandering around your home in the middle of the night hoping not to wake up your wife or kids, as if you were William Carlos Williams when he wrote:

Danse Russe

BY

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

And here we have it, the pain, the loss, the change and the benefit of it all. The way we feel when confronted with any great hurt, Williams, with his loneliness, me with the challenges of living well while clinging to my agonies and wounds. The writer’s job and curse: telling the truth, finding the truth, and saying it without sound. The undeserved fate of our choices in how to be and the ways the world tells us we must be, regardless of how much it hurts to finally hear and have to live those messages.

Just Weighing Separator