Sunday, June 12, 2011


Every so often I'll stop and think to myself: Oh, right, you're alive.

This thought, unoriginal as it is, usually arrives when I'm engaged in an act that approaches the 'difficult' -- physically, mentally, unsettling. Often when I'm running, and sweating, and spitting, and holding back the urge to piss, I'll spot a weed by the river gently being blown by a breeze. I won't feel that I am that weed, or that breeze, or even the space between both, but I will feel myself as a force, physical and tactile. How many times have I tried not to pee in my pants as I've run down a road? Hundreds? Such an urge long withweld gathers a weight all its own. From such elementary beginnings are grand notions embedded.

(So I'd like to believe. Hope to believe. Need to believe?)

When reading Japanese, my mind bends and distorts, does backflips and front-fakes. Honest and tiring, this kind of mental gynamstics. (Or is it more akin to a kind of sexless masturbation? Getting one's own intellectual rocks off to the point where the ego begins to believe that one's brain is quite bold?) I tell myself: Such exertions must mean that you're somehow still able to engage with quite alien concepts. Attack their odd foreign shapes, until, if only vaguely, I can hear through a gauze what these characters might say. If I sit there long enough, I revert. Get younger. I'm aware of myself, learning.


I can remember the moment in life where my dad took my shoelace in his hands and told me just what to do. The rabbit going around the tree, looping around the wide trunk, diving down deep into the ground.


That first drive home with my mum, learner's permit in hand, steering the wheel with both hands, my heart thumping its bump.


The first class that I taught, my student an old white-haired man, distinguished and wise, a heart doctor who put the first pacemaker in place.


Studying, turning pages, cursing, I feel myself learning, and suddenly I think with surprise: I'm alive!

For shouldn't we all be reminded that life is still here, alive in its own right, alongside our small selves that continue to believe that Time on its own is just one more straight line?

Just a few hours ago, a YOU TUBE video I stumbled upon on a whim took me right back to a point that I guess that I've never quite left. A person I'd known long before, now a small square box on a screen. Time laughed in my face. Spit in it, even. I could feel its saliva drip straight off of my nose and right down onto my tongue. Bitter and vile but also sweet with the taste of who we once used to be.

Me, thinking that we actually age, get mature, become wise. Deluded. Watching that video, the 'past' became 'now', and my 'here' became 'then', and I thought: I'm alive! (A childhood memory intruded: cracking open a cold and fresh can of that fruit drink FIVE ALIVE, pulling the metal tab, taking a gulp, burping with the kind of long belch a ten-year old enacts with great pride, saying: "Num-ber Five aliiiiive, Ste-phan-!" A ritual of sorts, every time I drank that great drink, me repeating the line from Steve Guttenberg's eighties classic, that dumb robot from SHORT CIRCUIT activating its self and its own sense of space. Now kind of close to profound.)

Life, an unlikely ally against time's nefarious means. After being surprised by that video, nothing made any more sense, true, but life had once again announced its brash self with a slap to my cheek. The thought wasn't filled with any kind of straight joy, or suffused with pure dread. I just understood: I'm here. Life is with me. Life as my buddy. Where you been, old pal?


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