Here’s Your Non-Inspirational Quote For The Day

Here is your non-inspirational quote for the day, drawn in not-very-good picture form by me. …Previously, I specialized in actual inspirational quotes; there’s one here, and then also here and here and then probably there are a few more that I’m too lazy to find right now. Anyway, below is your non-affirmation for the day — treasure it. Crush it close to your heart.

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Hey, so guess who just broke up with his sort of girlfriend! I was feeling a little depressed, hence the enormous morbid skull above. And now, here’s your non-inspirational quote for the day:

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So I was almost killed on the walk over to this cafe; the cafe where I planned to write this essay, and where I am now currently writing this essay. It wasn’t that close; I wasn’t that close to being killed. …I was just walking through this parking lot that almost no one ever drives through, and a white car decided to whoosh through at yes-I-am-a-‘Type-A’-sort-of-asshole-implying speed. I mean, he was many feet away from me, but had I been walking slightly faster in the few minutes leading up to that point, he would have crushed me and my tender, delicate, beautiful body.

All of which got me to thinking about the above poem, ‘Upoon a deedmans hed’ (‘Upon a Deadman’s Head’), which is by John Skelton, and was written around about the year 1504. Skelton wrote a rough sort of poetry which academics mocked (you might almost compare him to a hip-hop artist, with his use of both comedy and of common slang). He even defended himself from critics who mocked his poetry for not being fancy-pants enough:

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…Which is to say, though his rhymes may be tattered, beaten by the rain, rusty and eaten by moths — nonetheless they have some “pith,” some bite, some SKILLZ, so to speak. So suck on that, haters!


But ANY-way, no doubt you did not come here for an in-depth discussion of medieval poetry. (Why you actually did come here is perhaps a mystery best left to the ages.) So! Let’s return to the thing that we were originally talking about: me almost getting hit by a car.

I almost got hit by a car, and I was already pretty fucking depressed, what with my girlfriend breaking my heart and all. So then I was thinking about the poem:

…We are but dust,
And die we must.
It is general
To be mortal:
For I have well espied
That no man may himself hide
From Death hollow-eyed…

Interesting shit! And depressing. But not if you think about it in the right way. Just the other day, I was reading an essay by another writer, which I wish to fuck I had saved the link to. But I didn’t save the link, and now I’ll never find it again.

The writer was on an airplane when the airplane started to crash. Or at least, it started making horrific sounds, wobbling and rattling and making terrible engine noises and randomly dropping in altitude and essentially doing all of the things that you never want an airplane to do.

There was a little boy sitting across the aisle from him, about eight years old, and the boy turned to him and said, “Mister, is the plane supposed to be doing this?” And the writer — having no fucking option (what was he going to do, scream, “No! And we’re all going to fucking die-eeee!!”) — the writer turned back to the kid and said, “Of course it is. Everything’s going to be just fine.” Meanwhile he was sweating bullets and feeling like he was about to have a heart attack.

And then things kept getting worse; smoke from the wing, even worse goddamn noises. And the woman who was sitting next to him — he had never met her before — took his hand. And he took her hand; a stranger’s hand. Because what else was there to do? They were about to DIE.

And then five minutes later, the plane landed perfectly and everything was just fine.

As though it had all been a dream. But it wasn’t. It had all really happened.

And then…

And then, what do you think happened next?

And then the man, the writer, he walked around for the next five days and he felt amazing and incredible. He hadn’t died! God had chosen him to live!


…I had a moment like this once. My boss in New York, he asked me to drive his massive horrible ugly SUV back to our main store from the warehouse. Down the Bronx River Parkway. Perhaps the worst stretch of road known to humankind. In the middle of the pouring rain. And what’s more, his SUV was an automatic. Basically the kind of car that you buy when you’re a huge raging middle-aged overweight asshole, but you have a tiny dick. So you buy a car that is three-times the size of a normal-sized normal car — but you wouldn’t want a stick-shift, of course, because those require the use of two hands, and then you wouldn’t have one hand free to pour 64-ounce Cokes and Wendy’s Xtra-Tastee-Super-Bacon-Triple-Burgers down your fat gullet.

…I was against all of this, is what I am saying.

“…Uhh, boss,” I said. “I don’t know how to say this and I know that this sounds weird, but I don’t really know how to drive an automatic. I was taught to drive a stick-shift, and I’ve only driven an automatic twice in my life. And when I do drive one, I tend to forget, and revert — to using one foot on the clutch, which doesn’t exist in an automatic. So what happens is I’m pressing on the gas and the brake at the same time, which makes the car go into an insane power-side, which is really bad.”

“Whatever,” he said. “Get that shit back to the warehouse.”

…Well; even I can recognize the limits of rhetoric.

So I got in the awful SUV. I drove down the awful jam-packed NYC freeway in the hostile traffic and pouring rain.

Twenty minutes in, I hit a huge rain-slick, a gigantic pothole filled with rain.

If you’re trained to drive an automatic, and you can remember this training, then what you do is pump gently on the brake. Don’t press hard on it — that will make you slide. Just pump gently.

I was not trained and so I hit the clutch (which was really the brake) while also pressing the gas (which was still the gas, but this would have caused me to slow down slowly, had it actually involved the use of the clutch, which normal Americans used to use and which  current non-obese Europeans still use).

The actual result was that I was hitting the gas and the brake at the same time — AND NEVER DO THIS.

I did a power slide, but a power slide within a power slide.

So I was revolving in circles, in the slick rain, but within a larger, more terrifying circle.

So, SPIN SPIN SPIN SPIN, within a far larger and far more terrifying spin.

At a certain point, I could see myself travelling backwards. Backwards, against the traffic on the four-lane highway. Like; I could see the faces of startled drivers, as I spun and drove in the complete opposite direction from them, in the completely wrong direction, the utterly wrong way on the road.

And yet, I didn’t die.

I  ended up on the grass median strip in the center of the highway, still pointing the wrong way, against the traffic.

I sat there and panted for a while.

Eventually a cop pulled up. He had so many questions, but I was so clearly horrified, and was shrieking things like — “My boss MADE ME drive his SUV when I only know how to drive an automatic” — and the whole thing was so confusing that he just let me go, even though he really shouldn’t have.

And then I drove slowly — very slowly, the rest of the way back to the warehouse.

…And for the rest of the day, I felt blessed. I had been spared.  I deserved to live!  No one else cared about this for longer than five seconds, but it was very exciting for me.


…So to return to our story of the writer who could have died in a plane crash… Well; he didn’t. He didn’t die in a plane crash. And according to his account, for the next five days, he felt amazing. Every gasp of fresh air, every chirp of birdsong, every falling leaf, every moment of life — these things were a blessing. Because he understood now that he could have easily died and would have never experienced any of these things again,


And then — do you know what happened next? You should, but god, you’re so dopey that I’ll probably have to explain it, god knows. Here’s what happened next — after five days, he forgot about it all. …He couldn’t keep feeling that like that. Maybe no one could. …It faded. How could he see the infinite possibilities in every petal of every possible leaf? Maybe no one could. …Maybe it’s impossible. Maybe it’s intrinsic. …Maybe, if we felt this way all the time, then we couldn’t accomplish anything. Maybe we’d have to become the Buddha.

…For how could you go to work, how could you concentrate on your dopey girlfriend — if for every second you were concentrating on this — the immense magical beauty of life itself. …The more than 100,000,000,000,000 odds against there being a single blooming flower, a single blooming petal. How could you think about anything else? Who knows? Who even has any idea?

And so, the writer forgot his feeling. He forgot how privileged he was merely to be be alive. And I also forgot. I was so happy that I didn’t die; and then this feeling vanished — in the space of a single goddamn day. And so I also forgot, almost right away.

…But still, there’s something to think about, there in John Skelton’s poem:

…We are but dust,
And die we must.
It is general
To be mortal:
For I have well espied
That no man may himself hide
From Death hollow-eyed…

…We can’t hide. But still, we do. We do. We do it almost very day. We experience the beauty of life every day, and yet… we can’t appreciate it, and so we cower, shield ourselves from it. We can’t appreciate the storming clouds of beauty that lie on the other side of silence.

Maybe we should do better at this; at appreciating life… Or maybe no one can do this, maybe it lies beyond all human ability — but at least, we can try harder, give it a better shot.. And so, think about it, at least. Think about John Skelton. And think about hiding, and love, and life. …And so, that’s it. …That’s your non-inspirational quote for the day. TC mark

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