To when I was a younger man, alone and touching myself. There I am, staring at a computer screen. Now I’m finishing on the floor.
After, blood flowing back to my brain, I’m compelled – I think by God – to scrub away what I’ve done: the chair I sat on, the shower that sprayed the water, the towel which dried me, the clothes I wore when I first thought of doing it. After I clean everything I can, I remember from my early 20s, I am lost in a sea of murky thought. For days, weeks, I obsess. I think, worried of when it’ll happen all over again.
I cannot count the number of hours I spent thinking of whether or not I should clean up the imaginary sin I left in the apartments and houses I lived in then. That insanity, I think, followed me into adulthood. Little things can push me into a maze of anxious thought. I can be lost for hours. This preventive cycle is the most consistent “thought” I’ll have. When I’m free from it, I have others.
Over and over I’ll think this: when I get to a certain amount of money everything will be perfect. This capitalistic notion is connected to my dreams – getting a novel published, mainly – so it’s not completely out of bounds. My dream, however, is not connected to any real world job, and as I grow older I know – I think – I should focus on that instead of thinking some book will provide for my grandson’s college education.
The third thought I have in a given day revolves around falling in love. Usually the thought strikes me late at night. Unable to sleep, I think of how old I am and how I’m not beside anyone and how that seems strange. Stranger still, I think I don’t know what love is. Each time it “happened” – a volleyball player from Iowa, a thrower from Alabama, a hippie from Minnesota – was so unsuccessful I find it uncomfortable to theorize.
Maybe this idea stubbornly remains because I don’t want to be the one who fails at love so much. No one likes being a real life rom-com, like they were plucked from a Cathy cartoon. And no likes being boring, which is what always failing at love is. If something happens over and over without success, like the Generals always losing to the Globetrotters, where is the suspense?
I think, as well, I think of love because I hope to be reassured, by whatever tenuously guiding fate, that I didn’t botch up the few chances I had. Because of that, however unromantic that might be, I think about love. Though not as much as my anxieties, and not as much as publishing novels.
These three are my main thoughts, but now that I’ve written them, what did I accomplish? How was that valuable in any way?
On why it wasn’t, take when I lived in Seattle. Everyday I drove past a high rise under construction. I saw them hoist beams into position. They fastened those beams with heavy metal pins. It all needed drywall and electrical outlets and plumbing and doors, all of which took real work. It cost money and the building, when finished, would take up a real space. People would rely on its existence.
I’d think about that as I drove and compare the work it took to make the building to my work of writing, and I would feel hopelessness. Not all words are worthless compared to buildings, some are life-saving, but they have to be the right words, arranged in the right way.
Sometimes, I think, it is breathtaking how some words came to be in the order they’re in. Though the words that form bad books? What can be said for them? Hardly they’re worth more than a speck of dust on that construction site.
Still another thought I have. I think I am too old to chase a dream. I think I should’ve already learned the guitar or figured out math or written something truly great. And if I didn’t do any of those things, I think I should’ve scratched out a nest egg by going everyday to a job I hate.
I think I should forget it all now and find a hobby. Put toy boats inside bottles. Little sails and little white hulls and strips of little teak decks and tiny little men on board swabbing little poop decks. Or show dogs, cut pieces of dried poop out of bushy tails. Or even woodcarving, notch out pieces of oak and pine and ash into recognizable faces with tools. A man could be happy with something like that.
But I always return to my thoughts. First, the anxiety. Then to the thought of being a novelist. I think about now how long I’ve been working on these meaningless projects. Being published on blogs where the men in charge use as fronts for capturing the affections of women. Their sites are ruses, yet are more than I can say for myself. At least a ruse is a start. I wanted to spell ruse as rouse. I think about my poor language skills.
Thoughts will be my ending, I’m sure of that, but I want that ending to be spectacular. When I move to the next world I want everyone I once knew, or had a passing acquaintance with, to be pinched with grief. To have such a profound realization on how much I meant in their life.
Why would do the thinkers think this way? If I’m being real I think I know my funeral will be an extension of my life – inward and reflective. But I want to believe a light is dormant inside me, and when I turn to dust a joy so great will shine. Everyone will be overtaken by it.
Though it must be natural for someone like me who thinks so much to believe in something more. But when your time alive is only thoughts, at what point is it worth mentioning that they are a crippling collection of nothing? Now I’m reminded of a story.
There was once a man who wanted to be important. He spent his whole life wishing for it to be so. He tried as best as he could, though mostly he just thought about it. And when he realized those thoughts would never materialize, he thought maybe death could be his way to substance.
I don’t know if his family, who loved him, or his few friends, who thought of him, would’ve appreciated it, but when you sift his life down to the bottom, it could be said like this, “Here’s a man who lived. He thought so much. Then he died.”