The following is a note I sent to one of my oldest friends earlier this year when I was facing a whole lot of issues, not the least of which was impending unemployment. I will not sit here and pretend to know why I am sharing it. Perhaps the reason is contained within the note itself. No one else has ever read these words prior to today.
There are things I have never even tried to explain to another person. I suppose all of us, in our own little worlds, assume no one else would understand. Of course, someone else would. None of us are unique in this world. But, I find no comfort in the thought that I am not alone. One can in fact be in a room full of people, and still be alone…
There are people around me who want me to do things for them. I am slowly losing my ability to do anything for anyone, including myself. There is, of course, a certain fear involved in becoming destitute, dependent, powerless… But, there is also an intrigue. There is a part of me that waits patiently for the end to come, solely so that I might see who is still standing there once the dust settles.
It is odd to me that as each day passes I find myself feeling less and less. It’s a strange sensation. I recently took up playing the bass. The tips of my fingers have begun to callous and I cannot feel the keys as I type this. Not as I did before. So too with my emotions.
I stare in to the eyes of my wife. In to the eyes of abject love. And I use that word because there is a part of me that sees it as something to be pitied. A desperate, heart-wrenching, world shaking love. A “please don’t go, because I am nothing without you”. And I cannot help but wonder what it is to feel like that.
There are people who call me friend. Were I to die tonight, they would dutifully make their way to my funeral. They would gather in the little groups to which they belong and whisper to each other about how they didn’t see this coming. A few would say that they did in fact see this coming. But if I could rise from the casket and shout one last word it would be “Pretenders!”. Go back to where you came from. You never knew me. No one ever really did.
I have struggled a lot recently, being torn between two ways of being. There is a part of me which seeks significance in the memories of others. I write and pass along my writings, so that I may be known. I speak, so that I might be known. I engage in activities, take on leadership roles, accept responsibilities…so that I might be known.
But the knowing brings with it entanglements, complications, and drama. The knowing forces others in to my space, and in to my face. It raises questions…and they demand answers. And so I strive to be known, and at the same time I strive to be left alone. It is both fame and anonymity that I seek. I want to discover wondrous things , and live a simple life in a log cabin on a river somewhere in Montana at the same time.
In short, I want to be…and not be… at the same time.
The constant rubbing; the back and forth; is wearing calluses on my soul. I find I care so very much, and not at all, at the same time. And so I swing, back and forth, back and forth, like a pendulum. Confusing and hurting those around me. Caring that I do, and doing it anyway. Not caring that I do, but trying to stop nonetheless.
Meanwhile, a frightened few wait to see what I will do. Because what I do will impact them directly. Some care because they care about me, and some care because they care about themselves. But the mass of the people, like a crowd gathered around the base of a building where a man stands on a ledge, is simply waiting to see what will happen because they have nothing better to do.
I too am eager to see what I will do…