I Am Almosting It

almost
U.S. National Archives

Almosting it, I am almosting it. I’m almost there. Almost there, but not quite.

…There is a passage in James Joyce’s Ulysses where this term comes up. James Joyce invented the term. My Irish literature professor always wondered why more people didn’t use it. I am almosting it. The phrase is used by the novel’s hero, Stephen Dedalus, as he is walking along the beach. He is trying to remember a dream that he had the night before; a dream that he can’t recall–

I am almosting it.

.–he thinks, and then gives up in despair, as he continues trudging along the beach:

I am almosting it. …I throw this ended shadow from me, manshape ineluctable, call it back. Endless, would it be mine, form of my form? Who watches me here? Who ever anywhere will read these written words?

Such a great phrase; it applies to everything in my life. My professor was quite right; why didn’t the term catch on?


I’m almosting it, almosting almost everything: my career, my love life (or lack of love life), my hopes, my dreams, my fears — all being almosted. I had something profound to write here, some profound insight that occurred to me today, while I was standing in line at the supermarket. But I can’t remember now what that insight was. See? I am almosting my writing too.

You, you who are reading this; you are probably, statistically speaking, a millennial. I am not. I’m practically middle-aged. It seems to make sense that young people would feel like they are “almosting” it. But I still feel the same exact way. And let me tell you, it never ends. No, the story of almosting it never ends; it goes on and on and on…


“The thing about being middle-aged,” says a different character in a different book, “is that people think that you are fully-formed. Right here.” And then he jabs with his finger at his heart. …Nope. You never do end up feeling that way. You never do end up feeling fully-formed. I’ve felt, say, twenty-three-ish ever since the day that I turned twenty-three, which was many years ago now. That’s as mature as I ever felt; ever felt that I became. I’m sure I’ll still feel twenty-three-ish when I’m on my deathbed at age eighty-nine, croaking to death of emphysema. That’s just how I feel and how I always know that’ll feel.

“The world is an incomplete sketch that never came off,” so said another writer, once. In this quotidian world, things only happen once. Having nothing to compare these things to, we never know what to do. If things only happen once — each instant in our life only happening once — then we will never know what is right or wrong to do. Break up with her or don’t break up with her? Quit your job or don’t? Cross that street or not?

Since each event in time is utterly unique, singular, there’s no way to compare any decision with any other decision that we’ve ever made. There’s no way to understand the repercussions of our actions, to know if what we’re doing is right. The world itself is an unfinished sketch; a plan for a painting that was never made. The world itself is unfinished, incomplete. The world itself is almosting it.

Almost life, almost love, almost kiss, almost cigarette, almost fear, almost death, almost hope, almost difference, almost apartment, almost cat, almost dog, almost rain, almost night, almost life again.

What are you yourself almosting? And who will remember you? And who anywhere will ever read these written words? TC mark

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