Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Regular Clint Eastwood

Last week on a beautiful spring day I was at work, shades on smoking a hand rolled cigarette when one of my coworkers looks over at me and says "you're a regular Clint Eastwood when you want to be aren't you?" I'd like to say that I grunted in proper Clint fashion but instead I chuckled. I totally understood where he was coming from - I can be laconic, gruff and I smoke unfiltered cigarettes, but I was surprised that someone else would see me that way. Laying in bed that night I relayed the scene to my partner. "It totally fits" she said cracking up laughing. The next morning as I stood on my porch thinking, staring at the trees starting to spread their leaves once again, I pondered the comment. Is that really me? Is it an image I've tried to manufacture? Or is it who I've become? 

It would seem at a cursory glance like the first and last questions are redundant but when I thought back to who I was as a little child, I wondered if I was always destined to be what I appear to have become, or if it is the layer of protection I've built up trying to cope with life. Most people try on various phases throughout their lives as they try to fit into society and this might be no different. In the last few years I've come to believe that what we hold onto as us many times is what hold us back because we are beholden to who we've crafted ourselves to be. Slowly, in recent months, I've accepted the hard fact that the world doesn't (and may never) make much sense to me. I fit in about as much as a loose ball bearing in precision clock - I bounce around, occasionally getting stuck, fucking up what other people think is supposed to happen. I guess that last question posed on the porch is probably the closest to accurate - this is who I've become. It feels nice to have weatherbeaten, calloused skin on my heart because living doesn't hurt quite so much but again - is it all of who I am? 

This may seem like an obsessive quest for something most people don't care to consider but any second your world can be turned upside down and what you thought was real, was who you are, suddenly is gone. People who have lived through terrorist attacks, been blindsided by breakups or divorce, suffered sudden financial losses, you name it -  know first hand how one second can change everything. An athlete that has based their entire identity on being proficient at their sport is left with a gaping hole after the permanent loss of mobility in an accident. Who am I? Who are any of us when you take away all the things that "define us"? 

Radio Lab recently had a fantastic episode about the Death Watch Beetle which caused me to contemplate my own place in the universe. These beetles chew through wood as a little worm for 10-15 years before they turn into a beetle. Once the transformation has occurred, their only purpose is to mate and then die. They cannot even eat in the 3 weeks they have to procreate and many of them die without "getting lucky" even once. They are essentially the universe's way of recycling wood. A simple but effective subroutine that keeps everything going. We think because there are so many choices available to us humans for who we can become that we are special, but in the grand scheme of the universe, we are as insignificant as the Death Watch Beetle. What's my function, to irritate people with my singular perspective as I bounce around trying to figure things out? I don't mean to but I just can't help it. Maybe that is my function and it's as thankless as the job the beetles have chewing through wood year after year. Very few people thank or praise a tree for standing there providing shade. Hell, it's rare that a specific part of nature is even recognized outside of the group it is lumped into.

On average, less than 10 people read anything I write which can be discouraging but I realized today that I wouldn't be sharing my life with the partner I love dearly if it had not been for my writing. The first time we met she thought I was a jackass (I was) but as she read my blog posts on Facebook she was drawn to the proverbial drumming of my head against the timbers. You never know what the fruit of your actions will be but when you are authentic, the return is what is natural and suited to you. 

This weekend my children stayed over and we watched The Never Ending Story part I & II. When the ancient turtle pokes it's head out and blathers on about how nothing matters, I knew exactly what "they" were talking about. Even if humans don't destroy themselves, the universe is going to continue expanding, the sun is going to burn out and earth will be a desolate rock all alone. Our species may develop technology to colonize another planet in a distant galaxy but the chances of that happening and any of our names being remembered is about as probable as winning one of the massive Powerball lotteries. So why do we try so hard? I figure it's mostly because we don't know who we are or what the point of any of this is. We try to keep the wheel rolling so that we don't have to think about it. When the credits rolled I realize that despite being a film is for children, the underlying message is brilliant. There is no point except for the fact that the story never does end.

We are all consciousness in one form or another and we all have a purpose like Death Watch Beetles, Mycorrhizal Fungi, trees, bees, every bit of the universe. It's all part of a story that is being crafted by belief and imagination but most of us haven't woken up to the fact that the exterior isn't who we are. Even the exterior of our soul. Much of what we think is our personality are coats of paint layered on our hearts to cover up and make presentable the parts that were disregarded, mocked or abused by others. Consciousness is a never ending story but most of the characters never are zombies. Instead they let surroundings and the accumulation of life inform who they are when they simply need to realize that the essence at the core of each of us is a pen. No matter what is stripped away on the outside by circumstances you can always scribe additional chapters in your own unique hand. 

Fuck it, I am a bit Clint Eastwood but there's much more than that yet to be revealed. Keep on writing your never ending story. 

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