(The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 1 year and 1 month ago, on August 01, 2011. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org.)
Look, I'm not even gonna try to say what I think has happened to you since the last time we talked. We did that before and it turned out AWFUL. You were just about to do some stuff and then that email popped up and you were all "awww, depressing."
In fact, here's what I'll do: I'll predict a bunch of stuff that would suck, and then you can feel GOOD that it didn't turn out that way.
- You completely fucked up the marketing courses and proved once and for all that you are an irresponsible parasite. - You went all of three days without a drink before giving up, guzzling the entire case of Keystone Light, and smashing up the walls with a sledgehammer in a fit of rage. - PAX Prime went okay, but then at PAX East you took a swing at a feminist blogger and became the poster boy for every anti-gamer cause under the sun. - The Sens were dead last in the league, and Robin Lehner got his spine broken by some pissed-off career AHLer and will never play hockey again. Meanwhile, Colorado saw Brian Elliot finally come into his own, and the whole country cheered on Winnipeg in an unexpectedly competitive divisional race and deep playoff run. (Actually that last part would be pretty cool after all.) - Russia nuked China, China nuked America, North Korea nuked everybody, everybody nuked Israel. - Everybody in Pearl Jam died in a plane crash and girls still hate you.
Aren't we glad none of that happened? 'Cept for the Winnipeg thing.
Seriously, kid, you're a goddamn legend. You're the superior man on this stage. Remember in Utah when you bowled back-to-back 100-point games? Remember harmonizing on Stayin' Alive? Remember listening to Sam Roberts and thinking, yeah, I could go back and do those things I said I would? I'm saying this as much for me as I am for you. This is where you were, man. I'm really looking forward to finding out where we'll be.
(Oh man, yes, I do totally remember all of those things. Past me would've been really excited about all the stuff that's happening to present me! And a little freaked out -- he's me, after all. But yeah, past me, I'm gonna make you proud. Let's enjoy it.)
"[Leonard] Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for "Hallelujah", including a writing session during a stay at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor."
The idea that it should be so impossible to state what is on one's mind using the glorious pastiche of human language is a foreign one only to those whose communications do not rise to the occasion of the mind's spirit. Simple thoughts lead to simple words; slow, aging ideas take up very little space in the head, and so are easily disgorged through the lips. Not to say that all difficult topics are necessarily deep, of course. Often, it's the shallow things which are the most important. Feelings, secrets, self-loathing behaviours. Personal disappointments and dried-up shells of ancient beliefs we used to hold, even cherish. Existence as withheld information. Unlocking and re-closing the boxes of files which make up the archives of memory.
"Where's the keys?" we might ask, and rightfully so. "What's on your mind? How are you feeling? Why did you do that?" Why do you Do what you Do? What a difficult story to tell, not least because it's long and complex and most people don't have the patience to hear it. The frowns of inflicted sharing. A car alarm goes off. It stops when it realizes it's not actually being stolen.
Someone once told me I was a good man. I wasn't sure I believed them then. What would I think now? Questions would come to mind -- "what makes you say that" foremost. They must have their reasons. A torpedo striking the cliff, knocking wide-track vehicles down the slope. Tweaking the mechanism so it keeps us afloat. Counting the syllables, estimating the average complexity of each clause, arriving at an undesirable result. An eighth-grader could read this? Either grade eight is a lot tougher now (or I was dumber then) or the whole damn system is broken. Give up on everything you love. Fight for right and justice and the good of the pack. Stab yourself in the thigh with a pen, inject the ink straight into your bloodstream. It's a better high than helium and heroin combined. Every night I write a note and every morning I crumple it up after I've woken up again. What are you doing now that you've got all that time on your hands, Detective Liberty? Now that your heart is closed to tourists, you must be truly free to investigate the suspects you really wanted to. The troublemakers who were always just concerning enough to keep a file on, but who never quite managed to generate a proper record. If I had her kind of access I'd pull all the dossiers out and sort them by an algorithm: word count divided by total offenses. Cross-reference by reporting party and stenographer. You never know, maybe we've got a poet in the department. All humans are trees, secretly, waiting to be found. The dragon stirs and teleports away from the forest when the rangers comb through, searching for crusaders who shoved themselves into [[THESAURUS FAILURE]]s where they weren't wanted. I squeeze my forearms together and the dirty pulp runs out to my elbows. You had it right, Tom, don't back down. (And I walk back down.) We inhale the smoky burnt foliage and notice the lingering brimstone: the dragon must be back. Are you afraid? I want to make an offer, to hold you if he roars. To put my car in neutral and roll down the curvature of the earth to your front door. To only whisper good things about people who can't hear me. To drink the wet marks straight from the pot without dipping the quill first. One high and two lows. Inspiration blind in the whirlpool. The weather's so warm, the skin dries on its own in the sun, so make sure you go twice so as to be sure you don't miss anything. She's staring kindly at me across the table. Nobody should be able to sit there, but she seems quite comfortable. "This is really just me whistling, isn't it?"
"Maybe. Look at the clock. Now back to me. Now the clock again. Is it the same?" It isn't, of course, and I can tell because it's almost unreadable. "It can't really be seventy-five past thirteen, of course." She always remembers things for me. (Cheater's olympics. Jump to the right when you feel déjà vu.) "Now look at your paws."
"I don't have -" but then I see that I do, that the grass spreads through clawed toe, and my tail's on fire -- I look back -- the dragon is behind me -- I get up to run -- in a shimmer it's ahead -- I turn away from the haze -- but there's too many trees -- at the last the blaze rips open a dying ash -- it falls -- my skull -- I'm still staring at her across the table. It was just a dream I didn't have. "Are you okay?" She looks like she's on the verge of crying.
Every dragon, every manticore, every abomination of the sky and rain is behind me. We cry, because there is no more way for us to kill our feelings. We're going to sense every indentation on every one of our blue-stained nerves. I wish to gods I could be scared.
Information crushes everything into twice its own effects. We waited for it, and it sort-of happened. Things are wiser now, whiling away the introduction in deserved traces, oddly ministered by cross-track shifts in silence. To the very first, I offer you this: a promise to keep our casts around our injuries and our moments sold in premium. Hey, if you can't let smiles out, you're not watching this lifetime anyway. Look at this jack of spades: the takeaway is we could learn to live without "what if"s. (That means this and then this.) We're doing this too, now. Realest talk is an implosion. We are the hunters. Instinct rider, I've mentioned it before. Nobody believes me when I tell them my real spirit animal.
Special professionals are on the way. We've been becoming for tremendously so long, we're so together we divide, up down intrinsic extrinsic. The rain falls. We're twice the size we've ever been. The rain falls. Throw me a line, I'll never sink as long as I can rove through the teachableness (??) without upsetting/breaking divisible droves. It'll make it as long as he can program a playlist. The rain is falling.
"I used to live here," he tells me. (I know, but it's best not to interrupt when he's opening up.) "I could track and stalk through those forests all day and all night. Nothing could hide from me." That's true! Nothing hides from us, we can't find the nothingness. We are intangible. We are become the translucent people. We lay awake and stared at the roof until the birds came around again with their song. From above me a tracer leans through the window, and drills a hole in my shoulder. I pluck the bullet from its resting place (a fallen bottle) and tuck it up under my lip, beside my fang. All the pieces are organized before me when we change places. Be careful: the door locks behind you.
She lays her hands over his neck. "Quite a place you've got here." He doesn't reply, doesn't want to. Let her play her games. They're more important than minutes.
Arcade Fire -- Sprawl Pt. 2 (Mountains beyond Mountains)
whereas we are stuck in this liferaft, and whereas the sharks have been circling for some time now, and whereas there are still no bars on our cellphones, therefore we come to the inextricable fact that one of us must be devoured in order to save the rest.
I'm speaking in hypotheticals, of course. but we all know those people, those cautionary examples. I wanted to prove to you that I've changed. I have, a little bit. maybe not enough. it's easy to believe that someone has transformed. harder to imagine then going back, maybe. the only thing stronger than the first impression is the sense that you've finally seen the true side. or maybe that's just me. I know how to operate these machines, controllers, steering devices. I don't know how to operate people.
change? what is that, anyway? "change." the word itself evokes a crashing wave. sometimes I imagine that all the spidery feathers of acne in my broken body will stream together onto a single spot, where I can tear it from my skin in a single bloody rocket. a capsule bound in flesh. alien to me. too obvious? I'll slow down. I dreamt last night that I began to show my plans to people, not realizing that my innermost desires were still pictured on the pages. is it hard to believe that I still have secrets? truth is, we keep different secrets from everyone. the girl who won't let her parents know about her secret boyfriend. the student who tells everyone he passed a course that he failed. the friends who swore up and down that no other soul would learn where the treasure was buried. the baserunner's impassioned denial that the fielder's glove so much as brushed his pant-leg. two countries, leveling missiles across borders, shaking hands at a summit.
my secrets? they're just poorly-kept lies. my life is a casual casualty. I'll gladly go into the water. I trust one of you to slow me down so I don't feel the teeth take my feathers.
Because professional athletes only do it for the money. Particularly in the playoffs. Right.
I wonder what she would've said if I'd accused her husband of only being a teacher because it happened to be a paying job that he was qualified for, and not because he cared if any of the children who passed through his classroom went out to the world again knowing more than they did when they came in.
It's a paycheck. Do what you love, do what you hate, who cares? Just as long as you've got those wages lining your pockets. It's not like it's work, even. It's not like it's a job that forces even the best of its employees to resign before the age of 40, possibly with lasting injuries, or maybe just the everlasting connection of your name to bittersweet or even horrible memories. As soon as they step off the ice, or the court, or the field, every one of those people forgets all that happened and goes back to being a normal person. With more money than most normal people, of course.
I'm surrounded by people who have somehow managed to simultaneously believe that life's folly is directly proportional to the size of one's bank account while simultaneously closing their minds to all the good and bad that comes to bear under direct competition. I acquiesced and chewed my dinner in silence, pondering the long-term effects of being brought up by these insidiously mutated creatures instead of a proper pack of wolves in the forest.
Final stats: five for fifteen on picks, -2 on game estimation.
We don't seem to exist to them, and maybe that's okay; maybe we just need to exist to ourselves. Separate spaces for all the things that exist, we just flit in and out of them, rooms in a gallery. Some of them won, and some of them lost, and some of the ones who won and lost were supposed to lose or win.
On the way home we swore loudly and made violent jokes that weren't really funny, and argued about whether a crane was a pelican (not hypothetical -- we saw it in the river, from the bridge) and did not listen to music.
And all along there was this weird sense that another night like it had ended differently, with quiet reflection and private comments that were a little amusing in your head, and music of course, shuffle-draining the batteries. And the days before those nights were nothing to us, they didn't seem to exist, just to themselves.
"I'm thinking of declaring personal bankruptcy," the Madman says to nobody in particular.