I am inclined to agree.
See, much like the stuff that leaks out of grandma, life is often nothing more than a thin, brown, horror-filled menagerie of inexplicable cowardice and gruesome, carnavelesque scenes of trauma, occasionally punctuated with gut-stabbing episodes of abrupt terror and/or sorrow.
There are, however, some very beautiful people and events swirling around out there in the dust that just about make it worth sticking around to see what comes next.
This past week has been no different.
Yes, my friend killed herself. No, I still don’t know exactly why, so stop asking me.
A week later, two of my longest-standing friends married each other in a Quaker service that was blessedly short and sweet. And then we danced. Oh, how we danced. (Did I mention it was mostly white people?)
Even as China continued pulling bodies from the rubble Sunday, Passayunk Avenue was awash in a snowstorm of pollen, spring very much in the air. Later, two modern Ford Mustangs randomly side by side at a red light would race down MacDade Boulevard; piloted, I assume, by the kind of people who buy Ford Mustangs and race them in Woodlyn.
Sad and beautiful at every turn. It’s all in the details and, frankly, can all be a bit Zen if you just take the time to balance it out.
Like Friday, I went to see an acquaintance perform at a local rock and roll venue. Sadly, the place wanted $15 for a shot and a beer, and they wouldn’t even serve me between sets. So in a beautiful stroke of rock stardom, I stole their bourbon. Thus, balance was achieved.
There is the lingering problem of existentialism, however. Even witnessing or participating in this balance can crack under prolonged exposure to what Stanhope called "the carnival that starts as soon as you put your head down on that pillow at night" (in the absence of proper medication, of course (read: beer)).
I mean, how do you get past the big-picture problem of nothingness? That creepy-crawly feeling in the back of your mind that death really is the end of all self-consciousness, no matter how many security blankets of religion you apply to the wound?
And if it really all means nothing, in the cosmic sense - if no descision, no matter how grandiose, really effects anything in the end - then what is one to do with the short span one is granted on the planet? The question makes me tired to my very bones, I've asked it so many times.
Most people, I assume, try not to think about it too much. I know I don't want to. So they get married and start spittin’ out rats just as fast as their reproductive organs can handle, which is a kind of immortality, in a sense (see also: biological imperative). But that doesn’t really satisfy for the individual, just the genes that collectively make up that individual.
So what else we got?
Well, you could simply say to hell with the whole thing and go on a killing spree. It happens.
If you are so inclined, you could give up all worldly possessions and work on focusing your chi. People do that, too.
You could move to Hawaii and drink mai-tais on the beach for the rest of your days, which, trust me, I'm working on.
Or you could try to just generally be a good person whenever the opportunity arises, instead of taking the normally easier route of being a total bastard and adding to the bitterness and pain that surrounds so many of us.
Hell, I don't know if life has a purpose. No one does, no matter how fervently they will try to convince you otherwise. Maybe there is no point. Or maybe we're just supposed to learn as much as we can along the way and pass that on to those behind us in line. It is kind of neat to think that at any given moment, you are alive when the sum total of humanity's knowledge is at its zenith. And a moment later, that knowledge has grown.
If you're still alive at that moment, congrabulations! You are again living in a time when humanity is collectively as smart as it has ever been, which admittedly might not always appear to be much to write home about (see previous post) but, you know, it's a work in progress.
And if in one of these moments you should find you aren't still around to help out, well ... good luck, then, I guess. We're all gonna need some one day.
As for me, I think I'll just keep trying to make people laugh while we're stuck together here in what my friend Bill calls "death's waiting room."
What else can you do when everything's so goddamn sad, and so goddamn beautiful?