No more fatalist posturing. No more rebel. No more sitting on the steps outside my apartment. It’s so insane (to use hipster speak), or, more accurately articulated, so manic-depressive, so up and down, so back and forth, how rationally and irrationally an addict thinks. How I’m thinking now. The degrees to which we rationalize our desires, our cravings and the degrees in which our desires and rationalizations and cravings are completely irrational. We are embodiments of contradiction. Instruments of conflict. Example: just three weeks ago I thought, “Oh, fuck, this will kill me. I have to quit.” Tonight, four weeks later, I want a cigarette so badly I have actually thought at least four times, “I don’t care if this kills me. I smoke. I want a cigarette. It’s worth it. My cab driver may fall asleep and kill me anyway (which almost happened last week, by the way, so I may as well go buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke my fucking face off). Life is short. Buy a pack. And then, almost silmultaneously, even… No, save the money. You’re saving money now. Oh, who fucking cares, you made good money at the bar tonight. Yeah, but it sucked! And that old Peruvian asshole told me the wine I recommended was disgusting!”
My mind generates the following thought after such an experience: perfect fucking time for a cigarette. And I dedicate it to you, you bastard, idiot, moron, clueless, soul-less, inconsiderate, Peruvian Fuck! What a crazy phenomenon that desire is: the thought of me killing myself smoking on the bench, dedicating a smoke to that asshole who was rude to makes me feel redeemed. Better! I would’ve felt better after a cigarette! Shit, let’s be honest, I’d feel better right now if I were smoking! And that’s the truth! But I know it will kill me, and somehow, now, these days, these long, painful, smoke-free days, I want to live more! Survival! Tsunamis and earthquakes and Mayan proselytizing and all! I somehow feel like I don’t want to leave yet. Don’t want to miss out on what’s now and what could still be. I want more. And then-time for the irrationality, the up and down-I think, “how the hell could you possibly want more of this? Didn’t you see the news?! Didn’t you see the mother almost yank the poor arm off her daughter on the subway? Didn’t you see the homeless man pissing himself on the A-train being ignored by everyone?! Do you not see the mounds of trash everywhere in your neighborhood? The plastic with no where to go, caught against the curl of every curb? The mosaic of miscellany. The paper cups and candy wrappers and bottle caps and cigarette butts and chicken wings and glass and more plastic and no grass and beer bottles and little kids growing up with these images as if they were oceans and parks and air and trees when really they’re just trash, and language like trash, like, yo if really, like, hey yo man, like, dude, yeah, he was all…What if you fell and hit your head and needed medical attention? No one cares. Too busy getting home on the train. Not my homeward bound, late-night-just-trying-to-get-home- problem! Let the dude lie there in his piss. All the more reason for me to chose to smoke. I may as well smoke. Who cares if I die. No more of this shit.
And hope somewhere in the midst of it all. Flowers blooming in the subway grates. The world trying to heal itself.
And Yes, I want more. Still. Of all of it.
We hurt each other every day. We hurt ourselves every day. I run into the man who doesn’t get out of my way as I exit the train. Why? Because he should let me off. If he doesn’t want to, I’ll run his ass over. Maybe I’d be happier if I just stepped aside, but No! I won’t! Let me get off the fucking train! I hurt him. I run into him. He hurts me. He makes no space for me. We both lose. Just as if I were to smoke. I lose. I hurt myself and I feel better. Falsely.
We judge each other every day. We judge ourselves every day. We are always performing. And why shouldn’t we be? Each action, judement and performance, is to each the others’ cause and effect. We judge so we perform. We perform so we judge. Brave is the man who shares, who loves, who gives, who reveals, who knows he will be judged and isn’t afraid to fail.
And now I feel better. Like I may have smoked, or forgotten, briefly, to smoke, forgotten about smoking.
An Image of Hope:
The yellow, industrial aura shimmers over, spills onto, is reflected in the black of the East River looking off the Williamsburg Bridge. There is the yellowish orange light as present as breathing reflecting, marbling, curling off of the black glass of the windows of the high-rises along the riverfront, a huge half circle of moon whose diameter runs north-east to south-west, from 2 to 7 o’clock. The silvers and yellows and blues. And the graffiti. The hyper-religious advertisements on the bricks. A man’s hands painted those words. Beautiful. New York. A man trying to get by. Earning a dollar. Four in the morning painting religious dogma on brownstones along the East River. Smoking. Like those old pictures of men working on the Brooklyn Bridge, tee-ing off of the suspended steel beams hitting golf balls out into the water, eating sandwiches, face to face with fatality. Beautiful. Painful. Hard. Awake. More awake than my driver who is falling asleep. I love this drive and the bridge at night, leaving Manhattan. And I’d still love it more knowing that as soon as I got out of the cab I’d smoke two cigarettes! One at the corner store to look tough as I buy a beer from the 3rd shifter 2nd generation Yemeni man and exchange money through the 8×8 inch bullet-proof window, and one as I drink the beer on the steps. Now no more steps. No more cigarettes. But beauty still and always beauty. We are beautiful, us miserable, conflicted, brutal, addicted, good, helplessly human beings.