Here we go. The usual fluffy stuff, lust-ridden entendre, and (everyone’s favorite) navel gazing. Gazing, hell — I examine my navel intensely, learn its habits and stalk it until, triumphantly carrying its carcass over my shoulders and returning to this, our little etheric village, I can lay it out for all to have their part, providing for us all.
(Okay, here’s where I reel myself in and, teeth set to exhibit my exerted will, entirely stop myself from going off on some tangent about an entire aboriginal culture who hunted and lived on the thundering herds of navel. All parts of the belly button would go to use in this culture. The umbilical scar would not merely be prey, but treasured cohabitants of the high plains. Meat, of course, and leather, would be had from them, but warmth, too, in the form of harvested and dried lint, and even the hairs from the more unruly could be woven into useful — I said I wasn’t going to do this.)
Here’s what I found in my navel today.
Death, pouring beers.
This morning on the commute nothing of import took place. I had set aside Jarvis and writing in favor of reading a book, based on the “quality of life” notion I keep hearing about. Not a forever sort of thing, just a couple-days-off sort of thing. I have some sort of issue with reading and writing in the same day. I think it uses the same parts of what I call my mind. In any case, the book took me, and carried me, and I was far from the madding crowds when my commute was over. I was not, however, far from the end of the book. I lusted for the end of the book in a way that moved casual passers by to avert their eyes and move along more quickly. I might have moaned.
I might not have, as well. But it’s fun to think I did. Let’s say I did.
There was a time, not long ago, that a few pages at the end of a book might stop me in my tracks. There was a kiosk near, and I could hide alone there and wrest my fitful completion in spasming turns of the page, perhaps even granted some measure of additional thrill at taking my pleasure there in public when I should be at work. This time I smiled at the thought and marked my place, deciding it could just as easily be finished on break or at lunch. The kiosk, unfulfilled, shrank behind me and I walked on to work. Walking, I considered.
I really did used to be constitutionally unable to leave those last few pages. As well, I was unable to leave anything for later. There might not be a later. Buy something tasty at the store while grocery shopping, I’d better tear into the package on the way home, just in case. People die on the way home from groceries, and do I really want to go to my reward (an unjust one, I hope — I’ve a rant about justice for another time) knowing that there is dark chocolate encased toffee untasted? New DVDs, comic books, magazines, social occasions, email, adult novelty items — the time to indulge is As Soon As Feasable. It is extremely difficult for me to wait my turn to speak in conversations. Same deal. As a result of this, I tend to over-schedule until I drop, and then mourn volubly the missed opportunities that slipped away while I was passed out from exhaustion.
Considering further, I decided that my newfound perspective (there will be five minutes later in the day to finish this, just as there are five inappropriate minutes now) had something to do with my coming to terms with writing a book during real life. It’s all fine and good, I’ve found, to note that it is possible to write two thousand words in a day, but it’s more likely that I’ll write one and do other things as well … and still miss some days in addition for Things That Happen. No matter, though; I’ll pick it up again, and be only the days I’ve missed behind my schedule. Books will be written, dreams will be nurtured. Having overcome this major hurdle in my thinking, such things as unread pages or untasted chocolate are comparatively easy. ”What it is,” I thought, “is I’ve come to some sort of terms with the notion of mortality.”
And stopped walking, jaw hanging.
Bars are lovely things. (When I shift subjects like that do you guys get whiplash?) They have nice places to sit. Frequently the good ones will have interesting bits to look at, or people to watch. Strangers will stroll by, pass the time of day, and offer to bring you food and drink. Generally when I go to a bar I’ve people with me that I admire, enjoy, lust after, or all of these; the sublime, the common, the carnal, all available in one place, and catered. What could be better than that?
Somewhere in the midst of the festivities, though, some bastard rings last call. Final drinks are poured, and things that had been enjoyed at comfortable paces become needfully rushed. Far too late in the evening to really savor any nuance, one is called upon to really enjoy that last drink, it being the last. Plans that might have been gently and maturely entered into must, perforce, be slammed together, and hopefully one last witty point or drink sodden and dishevelled odalisque made.
Death has poured out the last round and has begun wiping down the taps while looking markedly at the door. None of us is ready to go for the night, but that’s of no consequence.
Okay, so not the lightest touch you’ve ever seen with a metaphor, but the point is well taken, I think. That’s always been how I’ve felt. From years before I’d been to a bar or knew what last call was, I knew it was coming too soon. If I was going to get my point, my drink, or my end in, I’d best see to it quickly and well, and then get as many others as I could before it was Too Late — because it has always been Too Late.
What I’ve spent the last few years edging up to learning is that, even when the bar has closed, one can always take the wittiest of the lushes out to one’s car, where one has a bottle stashed under the seat, and nail her on the hood.
Uhm. Maybe that’s not exactly it. I’ve learned…I don’t know just what I’ve learned. But I’m a bit calmer now about the possibility of Losing Out. I’m going as fast as I’m going. I’ll get some chocolate, some words written, or just Some … or not. Meanwhile I’ll enjoy what I do get as best I can. Write the pages, read the pages, whatever.
This isn’t, as it happens, a Sudden Insight. It’s more a sudden realization that I’ve grown into this Gradual Insight and have been a lot calmer for quite a while. And, as I said, it goes back, I believe, to having come to some sort of terms with mortality.
Tonight a close friend told me that his father had died. This wasn’t unexpected. It’s been coming for weeks, and he’d had time to go and say his good bye, and then had time (barely) again to see his father off. Things had, under that circumstance, gone as well as they could possibly go for everyone. Gentle, timely, with enough space to say the things that needed said.
I’m furious. The kitchen nearly slammed apart under my hand. I finally determined that I was going to create a huge mess and some repair bills (and thereby become angrier), so I retired with a glass of the Macallen. I festered in place for a sip or two and realized that it wasn’t enough, so Jarvis was mobilized. And here we are.
When I rule the world, there will never be a Last Call. You can stay and drink until you’re good and ready to go home.
All the time there is. That’s all I want, I think.
Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry