20 February, 2012

A Baboon in New York, Intermezzo (RE: 39 Years Around The Same Sun)

Christ, I'm feeling dizzy today.

And no. I'm not hungover. Really.

I'm working on a new post -- describing for you, in precipitously close and agonizing detail, my first experience on a New York City Subway. But I thought I'd take the opportunity, on this, the anniversary of my 39th year around the sun, to point out that nn addition to being my birthday, February 20th is also the anniversary of the death of one of the few iconic 20th century heroes I will ever admit to having:

Hunter S. Thompson

He is not just one of the few journalists whose work I never tire of reading; he's the only one, except for maybe Ambrose Bierce, who really understood the function of a journalist in society.

And don't give me crap about Royko or Woodward and Bernstein; Royko was able to do his job because curried favor with the Chicago political machine; and The Watergate boys were just at the right place at the right time, and it was Bernstein who did most of the dirty work, anyway.

In addition to being one of the few journalists in the sordid, torrid media business who had any real balls, he's also one of the few American Literary Giants that came out of the last half of the 20th Century who was really worth all the noise. (There were others; but some never got the noise they deserved and some got it too late.)

And no... I don't try and live like he did. I'm fairly certain it's impossible.
And no... I don't aspire to be like him. I think it's challenging enough to be myself.

But on the anniversary of his death and in a celebration of my lingering -- quite against the laws of common sense and a short list of truly horrible excuses for human trash -- on this planet called Earth Corp., I wanted to spend some time this morning over coffee on the subject of necropsy and the American Dream.

Before I started this east bound leg of my travels, I sent out a post entitled The Third Thing. In it, I talked about the number three, and the idea that everyone needs three things in order to be happy.  I also wrote that one of the problems with needing just three things is that every person needs a different three things -- which obligates everyone to go about the business of finding them.

One of the other problems, though, is that most people accept reality limited by dualities. Republican/ Democrat. Right/Wrong. Left/Right. Weak/Strong. Rich/Poor. Success/Failure. Society raises us up to see only these combinations and to live out our lives based on decisions made with these dualities a priori.

What I've come to realize, though, is that while I was unsure of what my 3rd thing was when I left Mount Carroll, it was there all along:

  1. Writing
  2. Mobility
  3. Hermitage

I'm a writer -- poet, novelist, short story scribbler, journalist, essayist, blogger. I write. I like words. I sometimes like big words, so buy a thesarus. According to the OED  (that's the Oxford English Dictionary). there's more than ONE MILLION Words in the English Language. 


Wrap your head around that for a second. 



Mobility -- I've always liked traveling. Not being a tourist... TRAVELING. And it's not because I think any place I go will be intrinsically better than where I've been, or that I need to meet more interesting people, since I am blessed with amazing friends; I just like to be able to pick up and go.

This has always created problems. Ours is not a nomadic culture, and we don't trust people without identifiable roots. This has little to do with stranger danger as it has to do with categorizing and dismissal. Society preaches that we must categorize and dismiss... other people, other places, other things. ( You know... NOUNS.)  We must be willing to allow ourselves to be categorized and dismissed, and this is considered perfectly normal. Happy. Healthy.


The third thing -- my third thing -- is Hermitage. Not home. Not roots. But a place that is silent where I can work when that's what I need to do. This doesn't necessarily have to be a specific place. It could be one or two or twenty different place. But I know it's something I need because, in looking back over my my adult life, it's something I have always insisted upon having. And when I don't have it... things go to shit.

Which, by the way, is how I define the parameters of my three things. When I don't write, my life goes to shit. When I'm not mobile... or when I can't be... I am miserable and I make the people I love miserable too.  And when I haven't had a quiet place to work, read, listen to my music, and draw energy and solace from the solitude, I get plain bat shit crazy.

What this also means is that some things will probably end up falling by the wayside. It's entirely probable -- in fact, I'm certain it is -- that I inadvertently pushed my wife away. Because, in spite of my intentions... which were genuine, deep, and grew out of the very core of my being... being married has meant having to mediate and compromise on things that I might be incapable of compromising on. And, even in a mobile life, no one can escape their own culpability. and that's something I have to live with. All of it.

And yes, I know that sounds selfish. It is. But it's honest. And honest counts for more.

And somewhere, in that combination of non-compromise, culpability, and grace -- because there is a certain grace that comes upon you when you see another part of yourself for Who You Are rather than What You Are "Supposed" To Be -- there's still more truth left to explore. More places to go. More poems and stories to write. More. And as I meditate on this and on the fact that one of my true and genuine heroes decided to blow his head off  7 years ago today, I am thinking about something he said in a BBC interview once from his Colorado Compound:

"Sometimes you have to kill off a life to find a new one."

Rest in Peace Dr Thompson. Sorry I never really knew ye, but thanks for the gift just the same.

Drink and be merry and wish me well, Dear Readers. This finding a new life stuff isn't always easy. But it isn't dull. And it sure is fun.

Earth Corp. sized Magnetic tornadoes on the sun. Not bad.

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