Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
– Frank Herbert, Dune
I saw, as if for the first time, the great beauty of the things of this world: waterdrops in the woods around us plopped from leaf to ground; the stars were low, blue-white, tentative; the wind-scent bore traces of fire, dryweed, rivermuck; the tssking drybrush rattles swelled with a peaking breeze, as some distant cross-creek sleigh-nag tossed its neckbells.
– George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
I might have known better, nothing is what everybody wants, the world runs on that law. Personally, if I could, I would instigate Meat-Axe Day, and out of the goodness of my heart I would whack your head off with a couple of others. Every man should be allowed one day and a hatchet just to ease his heart.
– Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
I am eight. It is 6 days before Christmas. Night time, I think. My father returns from the hospital, wakes me to tell me my mother has died. My half-asleep response: “OK.” What is there to say? He hugs me. I hug back. The entire world, aside from my bed and father, has just been sucked into a blackhole. I wonder if a dandelion feels this way when yanked from the earth roots-and-all.
I had been warned. There were signs. I believed them. He told me she was sick and there was a chance “she might not make it.” I confessed to him I didn’t know how upset I’d be because you’re supposed to be upset when your mother might die. I wasn’t. I didn’t want her to die, I just didn’t feel like I’d miss her because she’d turned mean the last few months. The results of a second, failed kidney transplant: depression, impatience, anger. She kicked me once in the ass on our way in the house from the car. I was in the way, struggling with the metal garbage can and she was carrying heavy stuff. I knew I was supposed to feel upset or sad and I knew my feelings didn’t match.
My father told her this. That she was pushing me away. He wanted us to come together again. To be whole. So one of the last messages she got indirectly from me was that I wouldn’t miss her or didn’t love her. Perhaps that’s why I still can’t go to sleep when there’s an apology to be made, a peace to be negotiated.
A few years later, while my father was showering, I sat on the closed toilet and told him it didn’t seem like such a bad thing to die. Like maybe it was preferable to living. Why wait for the inevitable. I could see his blurred form through the frosted shower glass. He continued washing as he said God forbids it. My life was not mine to take. The response was either the surest example of faith I have ever experienced or the absolute limit of parental hubris. Things can be both, I suppose.
I’m still here. My mother still is not.
I got a new phone.
It asked me
if I wanted
to know what
I would be doing
into the future.
Top 10 List
I have 768
in four days.
snorting Red Dye 40
as an exercise
I called my
I learned that
not only is their
longer in service,
several years ago.
action I could
take to save
to kill myself.
359,160 hours. That’s how long it’s taken me. An elliptical trip I keep repeating around the source of most everything. But I’m not steering this vessel. I’d be hard pressed to get off it even if I wanted to. Do I want to? Honestly, the time passes so quickly I’m not even counting. Each moment is supersaturated with mysteries I could spend a lifetime unraveling. If you peel the onion that is me, you’ll find nothing at the center. If I’m incinerated into ash, it will be the same ash left behind by a burnt log. What is this to you? What is this to me? I can’t say. I started off with the premise that this was all building toward something. To be neatly wrapped up by the shimmery bow of aggregate knowledge. But it’s an unraveling. Each successive picture snaps from behind a lens accumulating scratches and smudges. The order once held by these snapshots effaced by the slip of the hand, scattering the narrative across these well-worn floors. That’s my history now face-up/face-down. 359,160 hours.
“The customs of man are like footholds carved into inhumanity, she thinks, something a person who’s been shipwrecked can clutch at to pull himself up, and nothing more. How much better it would be, she thinks, if the world were ruled by chance and not God.
–Jenny Erpenbeck, The End of Days