At the first sign of discomfort, I reach… I reach for something to put in my mouth. I reach for something to check. I reach for another something to drink. I reach for an old flame. A new flame. An extinguished flame.
People have their little families, their little groups, their little places, their little jobs, their little countries, their little clubs and the one thing all these little things have in common is that they’re full. When you ask one of the people with their little things how they are, usually they answer something along the lines of, “I’m SO busy!” They say “so” as if “busy” were a badge of honor. But the short of it is, they just aren’t available.
It’s not personal. I know that. But I want more. So much more. I am driving an 18-wheeler down a bicycle path here and it is, um, what’s the word I’m looking for—
There’s an expression for what I keep doing. Something about barking up the wrong tree.
Sometimes I want to pull a Henry David Thoreau. I want to leave all the little places of wrong trees and go build a cabin with and among the real trees, next to a real pond, with some real food I’ve planted and then watered and watched grow in some real dirt, the kind that gets under your real nails… and at the end of the day, which will end for real when the sun goes down, I will reach for my real paper and real pen to write it all down. And if I stay up past sun down, it will only be for as long as the wick of my candle, or the flames of my, very real, fire.
I wonder what made Henry David Thoreau finally up and leave for Walden. I imagine he was tired of noise. Maybe he was tired of everything. He said he wanted to “live deliberately.” Maybe, left to his habitual ways, he was a reacher, too, a reacher tired of not being filled by the whats he kept reaching for.
I want to say, “Henry David, you have no idea, man! There’s this thing called Facebook now, and cable news, and the whole world has turned into a noisy dribble of soundbites.”
To which he might be all, “Soundbite? I am not familiar with that word.”
And I, “Oh Henry David, trust me. You don’t want to be.”
I am sitting on a little planet, like the little prince on the cover of The Little Prince. Sometimes I am sitting quietly, and sometimes I am flailing. Sometimes I get up and shout, “Are you there?… Anybody?” It’s dark and it’s beautiful and I am alone and so much I am wanting connection, but not just any old noisy connection will do. No. Not just any old faux connection I compulsively reach for will do. No. I want the real goddam cheese, not the processed orange bullshit. I want the flesh and bones arms around, not the “Like” button. I want the listening. I want the truth. The real, down-in-the-bones truth. The underbelly, beautiful, though not always pretty, truth.
I’m tired to death of regurgitated quotes. I’m tired to death of the rah rah rah and the blah blah blah. I want the grit and grime, but only if it’s true. True grit. Don’t pretty it up with bullshit, though I wouldn’t mind if you put a lovely scarf around your hips. But scarf or no scarf, make it true.
Right now I want to write about how the birds are making noise. Not singing, but a boisterous, somewhat excited, noise, like a classroom-full of middle schoolers the moment before the teacher opens the door. Squaw squaw squaw didyouknow didyouhear didyousee… That’s what I want to say. It’s true.
I want to write about how the only thing that gets anywhere close to expressing what is trapped in my chest is a drum. No other sound is big or raw or gritty or beautiful or loud enough for that trapped stallion.
Yes. Stallion. I have a fucking stallion trapped in my chest. It pounds from the inside, Let! Me! Out! And I’ll be damned if I know how to, except for this drum of truth. Bam!
Right now I want to go check on all the little people with all the little things again. I want to check on the man, yes, the one I let break my heart again. I reach to click on my Facebook app, only to remember I deactivated Facebook 10, make that 11 now, days ago.
This morning I meditated for 10 minutes. Ten wee minutes. And yet, 10 minutes more than I would have if I hadn’t. Ten straight up minutes. It was the most honest thing I did all morning. And the ground was strong and true.
You may understand nothing of what I’ve just said, and I don’t care. I mean, I do. Very much. But the stallion in my chest is trumping even my concern about what you might think. And that’s saying something.
Connection. For real. Like Christopher and Anne, our neighbors who knocked on our door the other night during Hurricane Sandy. I answered and said, “Come in, come in!” and they did. They goddam did. And we sat in real chairs, and we sipped on real tea, and we talked and we laughed and we sang. Verily, we sang.
Let’s play a game, wanna?
Tell me something true, something very very true
I’ll tell you something true, something very very true
OK. Here’s something: The hydrangea outside my window is purple and dry and makes me happy and want to cry all at once.
OK. Now you…