May 15, 2012
It has been a minute. Three years to be exact. PTSD was so bad I couldn’t set foot in the hood for all the flashbacks. Would get numb, nervous, agitated. Would feel my hands get clammy and my throat go dry and my heart start to pound. Got to be that I felt like I was a little insane, I mean, PTSD for an entire neighborhood? Yea, well, maybe when the hood is three blocks long.
But then I was on the N train going over the Manhattan Bridge and I looked upon Brooklyn Bridge Park and it looked .. different. The carousel was installed. The land was scaped. And all these memories of my time giggling on the grass came back to me. And I thought, mmmmaybe. And then I remembered one of my favorite spots, P.S. Bookshop, home of all kinds of whatnot.
I’m a lil obsessed with books. In the nicest possible way. There is something infinitely compelling about all those words on the printed page. Books I’ve read a thousand times, books I’ve never read, books I’ve always wanted to read, books I would rather forget. Books with pictures. Books with text. Books with stories, essays, poems, ideas… And so I went. To P.S. Bookshop, which is now located in a huge new space and the walls are lined with volumes new and old, in print and not so much. And I did my thing as I cruised the shelves and I had a stack in my hand, and then I edited through it. And then, without thinking, I found myself with Emerson’s Nature in my paw.
Self Reliance! I’d been thinking of this, thinking of an essay I hadn’t read since I was in college but somehow remembered it the other day. And I’d meant to read it, but the Internet is not suited to contemplation so much as it is good for short bursts of focus. And so I bought the book, three dollars at that, and I started reading it and I thought, This Emerson is something else.
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,—that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost—and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. “
Ahh, do go on…
May 2, 2012
The sun is high and bright and shines in my eyes, warming my skin and reflecting off the deep blue of my nailpolish. And I am tired, a kind of tired that is foreign to me because I cannot understand what has happened to my energy. Except to consider that what I need most in the world is a proper vacation. That would make it the first I have ever taken since I began to work at age fourteen. But something in me resists. It seems so gratuitous, so frivilous, so antithetical to my Protestant Work Ethic.
Except I am not Protestant, I just picked up this belief like so many things, it came up through the concrete and seeped through the shoes cast upon my feet, and invaded my being and made me believe. The only way you will succeed is to work. And there were more words, describing the quality of the work and how hard I must go but those words were but hazy reflections of this unrelenting force. A pressure. An expectation that comes from something I know is sick, but I am still under its spell and it drives me to imbalance. It is everywhere, vibrating off the glass paneled towers that line these streets and it reverberates in my ear, whispering lies like it spoke the truth. But it doesn’t and I know this in my head but my heart is scared.
And so I resist, which is a losing proposition. The paradigm is the problem. But it reminds me of what the doctors told Miss Fitts when she decided to quit benzos: If you stop taking these drugs you will die. Lies to line the pockets of someone else. Fearmongering profiteers controlling the populace with whatever it takes, and in my case, status issues. Which isn’t even it, that’s just obfuscation.
It’s this: charting a path that has no precedent. It is, total independence from everything and everyone. It’s Self Reliance. Is this Emerson?
Man is his own star; and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man,
Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
Nothing to him falls early or too late.
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still.
I started writing this essay yesterday standing on Madison Avenue, waiting on what might be the beginning of a new chapter sure enough. And it was that feeling that I have been set adrift. Allow me to rephrase, for I am not a passive actor in my fate. I had cut myself off from all to which I had held, to which I had wanted to believe could be my salvation because I was too scared to put it all on me. And the further out I go, the fewer ties that bind, and perhaps one of the last tethers that moor me to the shore is the fear of simply being me. Free from all that I have been taught to believe. Free to discover what it is like to live as God and the Universe always intends.