I have a friend who likes to tell me–whether sincerely or sarcastically I sometimes cannot tell–that I’m the kind of guy who, when life throws shit at me, just keeps on smiling. And I suppose it’s true. If you’re a longtime reader, you might recall past discussions on regret and pessimism that asserted I believe everything must work out in the end, and that the best way to survive is to keep smiling–even if it’s only a choice, not a direct response.
So I keep on smiling.
But sometimes it feels there’s no need–because everything’s in order anyways.
In another universe I am not the one writing this. In another universe I am still who I am, but wholly different–the personification of another facet of myself. In another universe I am the same man but different, a secondary, tertiary–an nth degree version of myself wholly unknown yet wholly undifferentiated.
That’s a good way of saying it.
Where all these universes meet–a place in time or space, removed from either or both–there is an integral self that exists beyond all possibilities.
The act of reality forming from thought differentiates these forms, causing universal constants to slip behind subliminal ideals, each variable taking upon itself a new manifestation based upon those factors that surround it.
Today I feel undifferentiated. It’s an integral part of my identity.
There’s a man in my writing class who is perhaps one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met at N.C. State. He’s a little scruffy, has an adorable smile, and says some pretty cool things sometimes. For our second round of short stories, his protagonist was gay, and it made me think, here’s my chance to see where things could go.
So after class, I told him again how believable the character’s voice was (because honestly, it was) and then I asked, “Are you gay?”
I like to think all things begin with chaos. It is order of the most profound nature. Order so precise, the slightest variation at the start can lead to endings worlds apart. I like to think, the further from this primordial chaos we become, the more distilled is the order around us. We begin to detect patterns. We begin to feel the rhythms of the world, the rise and fall of our breathing, the beating of our hearts. We gain the order upon which we can build our lives, upon which we can foster freedom for ourselves, moving forward toward the future.
Other times we get lost in that chaos. We lose ourselves.
This is not a story about that. Instead it’s a story about much more.
Fate is such a subtle seamstress. Even when my life is unraveling down to its smallest fibers, right around the corner the loom is suddenly strung once more and everything is pulling itself back together again. In a matter of days, I had died. In a matter of minutes, hours, I had been brought back to life. I had lost both sleep and sanity last month–both responsibility and intention had vanished with the moderation of my mind. And now, now all of that has been brought back to me. Now all of that has left me overflowing with such joy I’m on the brink of tears in any given moment, simply overwhelmed with this magnificent and beautiful intensity.
Taking a look at my goals for March is depressing. It starts off on the left-hand side remarkably green, but as the weeks progress, one by one green dots turn to orange–failure. Lack of achievement. Missed accomplishment.
I could easily give up. I could easily say, like with many New Year Resolutions, I’ve missed my mark. I have loosed my arrows and now my quiver is empty. I have nothing left to give. I shall break my bow and bow down to the powers that be, the societies and stigmas that have kept me from the success I had dreamed of months ago.
But I refuse to do so. I refuse to succumb to the fates that weave reality. I refuse to do it. I did not make resolutions to be broken–I made goals to be kept. My long-term goals have not changed, not changed one bit; only my short-term goals, those steps I am taking to get there, have transformed into something new, into a path with greater clarity. Every moment is a moment to learn from–and when good things come into your life, time seems to make itself. I have had my hand at failure. I will not lie and say I have only found success in my life. But to hide my failures is unbecoming; by embracing them, I can learn from them and grow into something–someone–greater.
Life is a lovely conglomeration of chaos at the best of times. At the worst it is pure tovavo, that bleeding existence before creation where there was something, something so beyond human understanding, it was purer than any chaos we could hope to understand.
The irony of chaos is that it can feel very calm at the center of things. Take me for the moment: Right now I’m very at ease. I spent the afternoon sleeping. I woke up around six or so and didn’t even know what day it was. Things seem serene.
But right beneath–no, not “beneath” this at all; my awareness is somehow transitory, superficial, as if I am a fish and it is the fishbowl and I am looking out at a world distorted by the very medium that keeps me afloat–right around all of this, I can see and feel everything unraveling.
November first. Tuesday. Busy at school all day. Didn’t write a word till the kick-off party–but we had such a great turn-out, it was awesome. So glad so many people showed up. It really made my day. I got just past two-thousand words. Reaching my daily goal made me happy.
But I missed Tuesday. And then I missed Wednesday. And then I missed Thursday. And then the weekend came and homework followed and I realized I still hadn’t even posted here. At all.
1.8 Yehuda ben Tabbai and Shimon ben Shetah received the tradition from them.
Yehuda ben Tabbai taught:
When serving as a judge do not play the role of counsel for either litigant; when the litigants appear before you, deem them both guilty. But when they depart, having accepted the verdict, regard them both as innocent.
It’s a common misconception that life is like we see on TV. We believe shows like CSI and Law & Order are like life; we think that the Closer and Raising the Bar are how it really happens. And for as lifelike as they may seem (and as clued into proper practice as they are), in the end, when we sit down to watch the credits roll, they’re only TV shows. It’s easy to forget.