Sometimes it takes the whole world stopping to rediscover what you love.
When things come to a grinding halt maybe you first glut yourself on the vices you’d used to distract yourself from misery. Maybe the very things you’d framed yourself with, the girders and beams used to build your days and life, were in themselves distractions.
As the world comes to a slowing stop like a carnival ride that’s lost power, speech and music slurring slowing down, a space has opened up. And honestly, I’ve never felt quite so alive.
Before it was alive in spite of, in the face of things. Alive in stark opposition. But with the circus come to a stop there seems to be so much more room, and time, and empty space in which to grow. After the recoil, eyes blink in new light, and there is just silence.
I keep expecting to feel guilty, as if I miss the whole system or I am supposed to miss it, but there’s just no way. The obligations that had seemed the best are grudgingly forgotten. Only space stands in its stead, and in that space a clearer picture of myself. The clarity afforded by leisure. The intellectuals see themselves as fortunate to have the time for thought, and me too. In the dearth of obligations, things begin to grow.
I turn over my old artifacts like a farmer turning loam, and there is value. I had saved them for this purpose. In the current age where things have begun to drop away all the parts I’d named most relevant to me come surging back, and here I am alight again and hot on their tail with no hint of pretension. Did it have to take this long? I ask myself. Maybe it did. And there is no shame. There is only progress, only momentum, and each step forward seems ensured and irreversible.
Everything I’d laid in place so long ago is ready for me still. It feels like coming home—except to home as a process, home as long rails stretching to the horizon.
There is only sureness in me in the midst of these times labelled uncertain and chaotic. Each day as the sordid past falls away I recover more and better parts of myself in what seems like a perverse vacation. I know as an adult, with my conscience, that the gears of civilization will start turning again and I should welcome this with open arms the way that each adult must welcome evil and tragedy in the world. But the perverse wish, the immature part of me, wishes that maybe this would not end, that I would feel no more shame in my lifetime and no more compromise, and that my spirit should go on unhindered and childlike forever.
This is maybe not “the happiest I’ve ever been,” but it’s damn close. So many of the pictures, words, and trinkets I’ve saved are straight from heaven—but again, the concrete etchings from this time, which point to still more solid states of mind, were just lights amidst the overwhelming darkness. The constructions of this time were my salvation, everything—because indeed I dreaded all, and that dread redoubled my clasping and reinforced the clamor in my heart.
This was the immaturity in my perspective. The current year feels different, like this is reality and last time was the child obstinately holding fast to dream, waking life informed by the recent passing of that fantasy. This year upon waking I come to learn of myself more and more, and reality itself seems the more palatable. What I had feared before is nullified and tempered by my life thus far, the good and bad experiences lived in the interim. What I had defied is disarmed by an enhanced understanding—for what we fear is made safer by understanding.
Again I am grateful for those structures I had set up for myself, the bookmarks. “You’ll need all this again someday,” said past to future me, and here we are—satisfied, expectant; in repose, awake.
Is this salvation? Does this change not contain some traces of perfection such as I’d imagined? No, this can’t be it—this is not it, it is not perfect—and there has been no work done. My change will be greater, and it will be earned. No chance or circumstance ever allowed a man exactly what he wanted. Chance only dictates that we adjust and acquiesce, provides the canvas for our becoming.
So maybe this isn’t it—the same perfection which was surveyed only instantaneously in the past may have yet to wait—but maybe, with enough work done now, I can capture this time in a bottle, mold another signpost hinting at the presence of an ever-concrete emotion, and produce another artifact.
Such an interesting post, Joe!
I enjoyed reading your thoughtful, and uncommon, response, to the current situation.
that’s nice, thank you very much!