How can two things be the same thing?
I am a Go-Bot. For a time I myself allot, I am one thing, and then magically before your eyes, I shift into something else. It is always difficult the first few times you transform me; you are shaping plastic and metal, no doubt, so you know you can’t break me (but then, I am a Go-Bot and not the extremely more popular rendition that all your other friends have, so…) but there’s always a teething process to transforming robots, and you always get it. There was never a time when you couldn’t, not matter how impossible it seemed in the manual (manuals–when the world read). But after awhile, you can flip me from the first form (which is very standard and pedestrian) to the other (which is the more exotic of the two, sometimes by just being that other thing. A car, after all, is not exotic at all until you’ve felt it click and form into your hands in what was first a robot) with the ease of a Rubix cube champion, with fingers moving only. These two things–writer and man–are different from the other and they serve themselves to the other equally. The exotic side is what the kids pay their money to play with but the pedestrian side has his say in the matter as well. Sometimes it’s just the matter of transforming them that you can get by on. But ultimately, they need to be equals. A robot that is just a robot is just a robot and the same for the car. What is wonderful about the idea of the transforming robot is that it is most fully enjoyed when there is a narrative attached to the child’s play. Why did the robot change into the car at that exact moment, to flee or fight?
How can four people be in one person?
I am a Gemini and I am a writer. The philosopher, the poet, the artist, and the pedestrian. There are grand and bombastic themes and theories and then there is a single time-curled corner of a bumper sticker, dirt-coated and brittle. There is the churning, self-afflicting angel blinded by passion and love while always always always babbling morse-codeded messages in an invented language to the Gods and to you and then there is the thirty-nine-year-old man flexing his sore fingers while riding the bus to his job at the pizzeria.
How can this be another year gone and yet I’m the same?
I remember existence starting for me somewhere around grade school. When people tell you about the earliest memories, they should be telling you about grade school, because no one remembers what the old photos and family movies have told them already. Our memories are double-exposed with the stories our parents and family have told us since we were kids, and then those were in turn double exposed by things we’ve had happen to us that we wish to misremember and those things that we wished had happened that we misforget. I remember all the tables pushed together for a half-day in October. I was dressed as a ninja. I fantasized about candy. I saw Kim Blasco and smiled. I never once looked at a girl seductively (it wasn’t the time for that or maybe it was and I didn’t want to play along. The body knows and then the mind knows something different but the two don’t talk until you get older) but I noticed that some were cuter than others and so I unknowingly paid attention to them more in hopes of one day being their friend and then their boyfriend. They were safe, girls (though impossibly confusing and even more impossible to talk to them) since the boys were my enemies, or, at the most benign, my competitors. I am a boy: I need to compare, to compete, to win and keep winning. (But this is my adult brain now-forming and writing; let me go back). I remember Cub Scout meetings at various kids’ houses and basements and backyards, and then, always a big meeting every month at my soon-to-be-attended high school cafeteria. I remember teachers tall and scary and annoying and dumb. I remember a girl puking a Shamrock shake (and to this day, I have yet to have one). This particular memory is something I always remember, and it brings up a good point: a cause makes an effect. Happenstance is so much more powerful and sometimes more dangerous than people could ever do to you, anything you could ever do to yourself or to others in shaping your life. The good and wise ones say, ‘That is what happened and that is that’. But for the rest of us, we carve and cut and break through our past to some kind of truth like we’re pulling apart an over-cooked chicken. And after the carving, and our gristle-coated hands are washed and dried, and the folks are fed and the food is digesting in our stomachs, we’re so happy when we think we have our answers. But, alas, the stomach always empties. Because this is Time and this is Space and this is a Human Life. Begin.
You ask me these questions on the eve of my birthday as if to teach me a lesson somewhere in them, but I tell you, friend, their answers will not help me and they will not help you in asking me them. They are like “shoveling fleas across a barnyard: not half of them get there”, as Mr. Lincoln once said of sending troops to a cautious-crippling general one day in 1862. But send those troops he did, and so ask these questions you must. Because no matter how futile, they must be asked. A human being that does not engage in some sort of art of futility is not a human being but a fictional character. Every breath of life is futile, every drop of rain or flower petal or sunset is futile; and putting yourself through the process of an art form–of beginning cloud-eyed and wondrously passionate and then continuing bleak but experienced and then finally coming closer to that self-same person of cloud-eyed and passionate love but WITH experience–knowing that it is futile, is one of the most rewarding adventures you must ever endure through. It is not something we do so much as something we realize we’ve been doing. Everything else is fiction–your ideals and your expectations for happiness or even fulfillment; your photoshopped selfies of who you are and who you want to be, double-exposed on a glossy 4×6 print you picked up from Walgreens just an hour ago; your actions versus your words, and your words versus your emotional thoughts; and all of the things that don’t fit what you think are true of a human being and their own purpose here on earth. Don’t become a bastardization of what you could be by trying to be something. Be. And don’t ever lose at tic tac toe.
What is your art of futility?