Letâs get this party started. Iâm currently listening to Dntel, the name of the band that the mixer from Postal Service uses for his personal stuff. Itâs moody and atmospheric and simply awesome to listen to. Iâm on track two, which has the repeated lyric, âHow can I love you if you donât love yourselfâ followed by âHow can you love me if I donât love myselfâ followed by âWeâre not going anywhere, the sun is bright weâre standing still and itâs alright.â And it all just fits. While I first heard the song on my computer, in my office in the apartment in Bellevue, the song has become inextricably linked to a compilation I put it on. The song automagically conjures up exact mood I feel when driving through the city late, late at night, when the traffic is non-existent, and youâre just cruising, it rained earlier in the day and the pavement still has moisture around the edges, but the road itself is dry, the rain wrung from the asphalt by countless tires rolling over it. It should be dark and you shouldnât be able to see anything, but itâs the city, with concrete canyons towering around you eternally lit in a tungsten vigil. And thatâs okay, somehow, and you just cruise, like an outsider in his little rocket ship, listening to a song that says itâs alright. And it is.
The album has continued; it took me longer to write that paragraph that the song itself continues, but that doesnât really matter. Moods and feelings can linger for far longer than the cause of those moods or feelings. We can be bitter a year later, and then look back to a lazy summer afternoon three years past and decide that itâs alright. Thereâs a reason for that, and I shanât go into it. Itâs unnecessary. The more times I tread on that, the more of a rut I get into, and ruts are only good for getting you mired in the muck and
Itâs raining outside, with a strong wind dictating the direction each droplet falls with surprising similarity. The trees, leaves open to the air in spring green ferocity sway in the gusts, as the rain falls abruptly from the sky, then stops. From a steady, soul soothing rainfall, giant drops plummeting from clouds above, it just stops, completely. Just the wind is left, and across the road out my office window (Federal Way, this time), some of the larger leaves have flipped over to show their silver bellies to the sky, something I used to always delight in seeing as a child, because it meant a big storm was coming and soon, not more than a few hours away. The storm would bring rain and wind and sometimes lightning and thunder and would sweep everything away. Giant rivulets of rainwater would gush down the driveway, pulling the gravel with it, leaving giant ravines in the road that we would have to avoid when driving. And now itâs raining
again. A finer rain this time, more gentle.
I remember when I was seven, a huge windstorm came through town during the summer evening, and we all rushed outside. It was only 5 or 6 in the evening, but it was dark, the clouds like a ceiling blocking out sunlight. The wind was everywhere, and we scrambled to pick up various outdoor implements and put them away before the rains came, or before they were blown away. Leaves were ripped from the trees, and spun around in swirls of whirlygigs, and one got in my eye, which put me out of commission for the evening. I spent the next hour inside, blinking and running water over my eye to get the dirt out of it, but I canât help but wonder if there was something more outside then that if Iâd only stayed, would have happened. Pretentious, perhaps, but I never said I wasnât.
There is something in those woods, the woods I grew up in. The hill is old, very old, and was at one point nearly clearcut to make way for sheep farmers. A few trees remained, however, and naturally they are the largest in the forest. They are also the most gnarled and twisted trees in the forest, and there is an absolute silence that exists near them. There is a perfect space for deer to sleep beneath one, but Iâve never seen any deersign there, in 18 years of exploring those woods. There is a cave on the edge of the property that we were told to stay away from, because my parents suspected a skunk lived inside. Iâve never approached the cave, even now, years and years later: some places are meant to be left alone. The thought of going inside that hill unnerves me. Mind you, Iâve explored caves before, gone into mines and caverns and quarries, without qualm. Itâs that place, that hill that unsettles. The hill cries in several places, water oozing from exposed bedrock in the middle of the forest, even in the middle of droughts and the heat of summer, even when the frog pond at the top of the hill is nothing but clay and a puddle.
The trees grow tall by that pond, plenty of water and nutrients to nourish, obviously, but I canât help but feel that there is something more to it than that. Iâve walked through old growth forests that felt younger than those woods. Itâs like the land itself trends towards the ancient, no matter what happens on the surface. I remember walking through the woods with a walking stick, and planting it in the ground as you do with walking sticks, and hearing a hollow sound, an echoing deep hollow sound, like the entire hill was hollow. I went home and collected a shovel, but I could never find that place again. I wonder what would have happened if I had. When I was in my early teens, 12 or 13, I stayed up late to watch a concert on television, the inauguration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a concert that started out somewhat disappointingly, but became much better as it went along and the musicians and technicians got more comfortable. It finished around 4:30 in the morning, and I crept up to bed, stopping to go pee, but not bothering to turn on a light. As I stood there, I looked out the window towards the backyard, and there in the middle of it, maybe a dozen feet from the swingset, was something. Like a woman but not. She glowed phosphorescently, and the image of her wafted, like a piece of cloth in front of a fan, except it was the entire image, the entire person who shifted so. I went to my room and looked out my bedroom window, but there was nothing there. It was already gone, in the 10 seconds it took me to walk from the bathroom to my bed, and I still wonder some evenings what would have happened if Iâd walked out to it. Yes, there is definitely something in those woods. As for whether it is good, or evil, both completely useless terms in their binary exclusionism, is anyoneâs guess. My father, is inclined to feel that it is evil, or at the very least âungoodâ, but I lean more towards neutral or at least moderately benevolent. We agree completely, however that it is ancient, and is beyond mankindâs current idea of reality. Shakespeare had it right: âThere are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.â
As for why I think itâs benevolent or neutral, the simple matter of it is that I have done some incredibly stupid things in those woods, jumping off ledges, sprinting through dense thickets of trees with no idea what was coming up, barefoot, just things that probably should have had repercussions, but didnât. The extent of injuries I ever received in those woods were grime in the eyes and a goose egg on my forehead from breaking branches with a metal pipe and having the pipe rebound on me one time. I mean hell, I used to push dead trees over, and then run out of the way in case they started to fall in a different direction. My brother and I used to hide under the ledge that the snowplow would push the snowbanks over, and then struggle to climb out. These are not things that smart people do. But we were kids, and thus immortal in our own minds. All the same, I do think there was something watching out for us.
Returning to the rain, there are flecks of sunlight hitting the trees across the road, and I see flecks of blue among the clouds. All the same, I suspect it will be raining again before too long. This is fine with me. There is something really rewarding about these days, the days where it rains and yet is sunny, and the wind blows and itâs 50 degrees and thatâs okay because youâre in a jacket or sweater and simply appreciate the wind and the rain and the sun and the visceral experience of weather. The sudden glowing radiance of light when the sun peeks between the clouds and illuminates the tree whose leaves were barely buds a week prior, glowing this lime emerald green.
I just got back inside from puppy wrangling and eating some goldfish (cheddar flavor, we buy it in a vast carton that lasts for weeks). Freya peed outside, and came trotting inside, so I fed her, then fixed myself the snack of goldfish, and ate them while chatting with my brother and both of my parents. Dad sent me a link to a humorous 404 File Not Found page, which treats the Apache server as a variant of Marvin from Hitchhikerâs Guide to the Galaxy. Definitely cute. With mom, I chatted about getting distracted by looking up a court case for someone, involving a lawsuit between Sony and Immersion. You see back in 1998-1999, Sony came out with their âDual Shockâ controllers, which have two analog control sticks and a force feedback system using tiny motors inside the controller. The problem here is that Immersion patented that exact technology back in 1995. They sued, and the case has finally completed, in favor of Immersion. Sony has to pay 86 million to Immersion in damages, and will be hard pressed to convince Immersion to let them use the technology for the upcoming Playstation 3. ($14 million in legal fees will do that.) The forums and geek sites are of course in an uproar, mostly involving blithering idiots screaming âIâm gonna burn Immersionâs offices down if I canât use dualshock on the PS3!!!!111!!1â followed by a smaller minority of at least moderately intelligent responders saying âDude, itâs called Intellectual Property. They were well within their rights. Read the fucking documents.â I err on the side of the IP people. Big companies are not inherently evil, but theyâre big enough that the little evil shit people do adds up. Even if they get called on it, theyâll tie up the court case in an attempt to drain the legal funds of the opposition dry: not hard when your a multinational multibillion dollar company. Winning through outlasting instead of through being right. And thatâs just plain WRONG. So, fuck Sony. For that matter, fuck Nintendo and Microsoft too, for their bullshit new next-generation systems that by their own admission is going to completely strangle any sort of innovation in video games that is left. As recently as 5 years ago, a high end AAA game cost roughly $200,000 to make. Currently, the average budget is over a million dollars, and some are creeping into the 10s and 20s. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all stated at the 2005 GDC proceedings that their new systems will likely require teams and budgets triple OR MORE than what they are now. The only people with the money to develop in that arena are the publishers, but is simultaneously a large enough amount of money that they will maintain strict control over what is made, leaving the developers themselves as essentially automatons, drones doing what the masters say. Which is an absurd situation for the industry to be in, if you think about it. The gaming industry more than any other that immediately comes to mind is populated by people who do it for a genuine love of games. Itâs virtually a requirement to get into the industry; if youâre in it for the money, you wonât last long, statistically speaking. Suddenly, we are no longer able to exert any creative control over what we create, weâre no longer truly creating games. Love of games no longer enters into it, and the only way to survive in that sort of situation is to hide yourself in the paycheck. Anything else is simply heartbreaking. And yet, a paycheck isnât enough for the hours the game industry currently demands. You donât work a 70 hour week for a 40 hour a week paycheck without any compensation if you donât LOVE WHAT YOU DO. The industry is shooting itself in the foot, and several designers are abundantly aware of it. We need a new distribution model, and we need to start thinking of methods to continue to push things forward without breaking the budget. There are some good ideas being tossed around, but thereâs no real solution yet.
We need to rethink the gaming paradigm. The design principles of the first computer game (Spacewar, on a PDP1 back in the 60s) were threefold:
1) It should demonstrate as many of the computerâs resources as possible, and tax those resources to the limit;
2) Within a consistent framework, it should be interesting, which means every run should be different;
3) It should involve the onlooker in a pleasurable and active way — it short, it should be a game.
If you think about these basic design principles, they are the basis for the entire game industry to date. It is an automatic assumption that the game must continue to evolve visually, to push the limits of the system it is placed on. This first principle has become so much a part of the game design philosophy that it has reversed the development cycle: hardware now plays catchup to the games. We talk about the need for innovation in games lest we stagnate and die, and but I think the problem is much larger and more fundamental than the way we PLAY games. We need to innovate the way that we THINK about games. We need to examine whether that first design principle is truly necessary, or perhaps even detrimental to the advancement of the industry. Weâve grown exponentially, weâve become bloated, and now it is time to go back and get fit. There are more ways to enhance and advance than just the content. We need easier methods to create that content, and we need to spend less time worrying about maximizing the hardware capabilities. Does it really matter? Will anyone really care if an RPG on the PS3 looks no better than Tekken Tag Tournament on the PS2? Thatâs well within reasonable expectations, and frankly, itâs enough. With movies and music successfully presenting a minimalist presentation (hand-held camerawork, less polished and more raw work, ala White Stripes, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), is it really that alien a concept to apply those principles to games? How is it that so many companies are putting out collections of their âclassicsâ in order to cash in on the retro gaming movement, and yet they completely miss the point that there is more to the interest in retro gaming than just wanting to play games from their childhood? While that certainly is an element, there is a whole other aspect to this: games were simpler then, in every way. That does not mean they were easier (far from it, many older games are harder than their modern counterparts). It means there was a fundamental simplicity to the interface (both visual interface and game interface), regardless of the reasons for it (limited technology for instance). How novel it would be to have a minimalist interface in a modern game! A situation where everything is easily readable and abundantly clear, and where within 30 seconds of picking up a controller and trying out buttons, you know what everything does. This is feasible: modern systems have MORE functionality than the older systems, not less, and as such, it stands to reason that what worked before could work now. Advancement does not equal complication, damnit.
Listening to the Eels at the moment. âWrite âI am okayâ one hundred times, the doctors say. I am okay. I am okay. I am okay. Iâm not okay.â Itâs a great album, a great band for that matter, but kind of depressing. Theyâre what Emo would be if the fuckers were ACTUALLY depressed, and not just angsting. Even their upbeat songs (âLast Stop this Townâ, âGoddamn Right itâs a beautiful dayâ) are fucking depressing if you actually listen to the lyrics. But thatâs okay. Itâs kind of nice to deposit your depression into a song and sing along with it and appreciate it. It lets you grok the depression, and yourself, and come out of it all in a sort of catharsis, a connection (real or imaginary) with someone else, the person who wrote it, the people who performed it, the other people who listen to it and appreciate and grok it. Shared pain is lessened, after all. (And shared joy is increased.)
I just watched the new Hitchhikerâs Guide to the Galaxy trailer, the third trailer for it if you include the original teaser trailer. It was delightful fun, done in a style as if the trailer was in fact an entry in the Guide, under âmovie trailersâ. It was very tongue in cheek, and Iâm actually beginning to really look forward to seeing the movie. Iâd previously been dreading it a bit, especially after the complete lack of actual footage for so long. It didnât bode well, to say the least. But now that Iâve seen actual footage, I think it really could be a good deal of fun.
Listening to Fatboy Slim at the moment. I dunno why I decided to go with Fatboy Slim, itâs quite a bit unlike what Iâve been listening to up to now, but whatever. Fatboy Slim is good. Itâs currently playing âBetter Living Through Chemistryâ (the album), which I picked up from Pelsor when he was living with us in Bellevue. From there, it will be migrating to Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, followed by Youâve Come a Long Way, Baby, despite the fact that those two should probably be reversed if I wanted to get a feel for the evolution of the music. Honestly, I donât really care. Theyâre both good albums, and I actually picked up Halfway well before I picked up Youâve Come. His style is very mainstream/tradition techno, and thereâs absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it is interesting to return to after listening to mostly trance, ambient, and triphop. I think of the styles I just listed, Iâd say I prefer triphop. Portishead, Tricky, Massive Attack, stuff like that. I also enjoy tossing in Moby every once in a while. I used to listen to Moby far more often before my music collection really grew… I guess I just donât get to the Ms very often anymore. Itâs kind of too bad, I have a lot of good memories of listening to Play while driving across the country (I bought Play when it first came out, so weâre talking 1998-99), and a lot of the good times with Alison (Iâll admit it, there were good times), because we both liked it. And then when 18 came out, I picked that up, and met Mickey shortly after. 18 was playing in my Legacy as I was driving around in Pennsylvania with her at Ethan and Cortneyâs wedding. So I suppose there is an emotional connection with these albums in addition to simple appreciation. All the more curious that I havenât listened to either in so long.
What have I been listening to instead? Compilations, almost entirely. ADP volume 1, Uri volume 3, both excellent compilations in my opinion, with a good breadth of music on them that Iâm glad I selected. But there is so much more in my music collection that I havenât listened to in ages. When was the last time I listened to Smashing Pumpkins? Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is a fucking brilliant album, and I donât think Iâve listened to it more than once in the past year, possibly longer. As I said before, Moby. Portishead. Oysterhead I lost two moves ago. Even my massive collection of King Crimson doesnât get listened to all that often, and I think theyâre the catâs meow. I donât even know what I have anymore; I think I would be honestly surprised to browse through my music collection at this point. The physical one, the shelves of CDs downstairs in the den, beneath the DVDs. So much I just donât listen to not because I donât like it, but because I donât remember that I have it. It has passed outside the purview of my attention so much that even if itâs precisely the music I may be craving, it doesnât occur to me. That sucks. And just listening through my iTunes library doesnât do it. 37 days of music simply takes too long, thatâs 3 months listening 8 hours a day to get through the collection, and covers too many styles and songs to have any cohesive feeling for what song is which, or even which artist is which.
I think itâs time to start repopulating my cd case with albums, and listening to complete albums again when driving around. I drive north to Seattle often enough (usually twice a week, sometimes more, sometimes less) that I have time to get through a complete 40-60 minute album in the course of the drive. Assuming itâs just an errand, there and back, thatâs two full listens to an album in any given day, and thatâs not even including any driving I might do while up there. I really am starting to realize that I miss hearing full albums, and my older music. Thereâs a lot to be said for it, as much as I appreciate and enjoy the newer additions to my collection. But just the simple meditation of me, my car, and an album for extended periods is something I really really enjoy, itâs like a spiritual recharge, and I end up appreciating what Iâm listening to more that way than simply listening to it at home or on the computer. It becomes peripheral there instead of the central role it plays in the car, like another person. That may be something I picked up when I started going on long drives, driving 4 hours to Rhode Island, driving 2 hours to visit my cousins, driving an hour and a quarter to Squam for the hell of it and then back, driving an hour and a half to visit Uri and Eli and Dave and the frat up in Burlington, spending 3 months alone, driving across the country with no goal other than to explore and appreciate the world around me (and thus, explore and appreciate myself). 6 to 12 hours a day with nothing but myself and my music, in a late 80s minivan. You do a hell of a lot of thinking in that situation, for better or worse. I drove to the Florida Keys, twice, in about two days each time. You just sort of GO. The first time, we didnât even have music; Uri and Eli and myself, in that same van, whose radio/tape player had broken in such a fashion that we couldnât listen to anything. We talked for part of it, and after a while, Uri just started breaking into song and dancing around in his seat, and we realized that we were all going a little starkers, and prayed to god that weâd get the radio working in time for the return trip. Eli got a speeding ticket that trip, in Pennsylvania, after we stopped and stayed with Tim in western Virginia (Eastern Mennonite University), coming back north after camping in Bahia Honda Key just north of Key West (and just south of Marathon). The second trip included Dave, and we took two cars, since both Eli and I had upgraded our vehicles in the intervening year to Subarus. It was also a good trip, though a bit more disjointed than before, and included possibly the fastest trip through North Carolina Iâd ever done. Eli decided to pace this tricked out Camero that was doing 120 up the interstate, and I sped up to around 110 to follow suit (this isnât fear of tickets, this is knowing your limits as a driver. I donât feel comfortable driving over 100mph). I think we did the entire state in about an hour. Itâs not something I would do again, nor do I think Eli would be quite so insane to do that again either; weâve both matured and stabilized at least a little bit.
So, believe it or not, the rain appears to have cleared out for now. It will probably be back tomorrow, but for now, thereâs just a few tufts of cloud in the sky, and the trees out the window are bathed in golden afternoon sun. Itâs quite lovely and vibrant and alive, and thatâs a great experience. Iâve wrangled the puppy several times since I started writing this, which has definitely eaten into my time. Also, Iâve done a load of dishes and brought in the trash and recycling bins, along with the mail. I need to unload the dishwasher and start another load (itâs been a while) shortly, but weâll see how much more writing I get done before that happens. For the record, I started writing around noon, and it is currently 5:25pm, same day. Iâve also taken an hour and a half to eat, and many many 15 minute breaks to take the dog out or get chores done. So that in mind, despite this really just being a running commentary of my mind and my thoughts on things both esoteric and scattered, Iâm feeling pretty good for being on page 16. I have no idea what Iâll be writing about the next few days, though. Itâs quite a hurdle to write 20 pages A DAY, if you think about it. Itâs a workout, and thatâs good. Itâs something that needs to happen if I ever plan to write professionally, I need to get the writing muscles, mostly mental, ready for that process. And fast. Iâm sick of feeling like Iâm up against a wall, and in six short months, I have to enter the working world and all the bullshit that accompanies it. Iâm sick of feeling like if I donât get my act together in the next six months, Iâm going to end up in a shit job and be miserable for the rest of my life. Itâs all true, mind you, but itâs still a pretty shitty and counterproductive feeling to have. I should instead focus on enjoying these six months and really diving into my subject wholeheartedly. Stop worrying about the future and start living in the present, damnit.
Which brings about the question of what I want to do. Iâm so scattered that Iâm not sure if I can honestly answer that question. I love games, and want to create games. MY games. Story driven turn based games. To do this, I need to get a smattering of understanding of design principles, art, writing, and probably some programming. I then need to likely start my own development company, which involves capital I donât have, which means getting a job elsewhere and doing something else for a while until Iâm in a position I can do that. Take two: I love writing, and want to write stories and articles. I want to write comics and movies and novels and short stories, and be published and do that as my full time job. To do this, I need to start writing at least 10 if not these 20 pages every day, and SIGNIFICANTLY refine my writing ability, because right now I still write in sketches rather than full images. This involves finding a different job and working there while writing in the evenings for several years, until my abilities are at a point I can get published consistently. Take three: I love art, and would love to create art in various forms, paintings, sculpture, photography, fine art work. To do this I need to find a different job and start drawing for several hours a day, every day, plus possibly extra coursework, until Iâm at a point that I can adequately depict what I want to depict, in an aesthetically pleasing and salable fashion.
So, the top three things I want to do for a living are all outside my reach. Itâs a pretty upsetting realization, partly because it makes me feel like I just wasted 5 years and $150,000 of my life. At the end of it all, Iâll have a piece of paper that wonât mean squat to the jobs Iâm trying to get. Unless I really bust some shit out in the next six months, it wonât mean anything to ME, either, and thatâs a pretty shitty feeling.
Iâm on the last song of Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars by Fatboy Slim at the moment, which is called Song for Shelter. Itâs a great song. I really really dig it, and have since I first heard it. Itâs a raver anthem. It talks about things like: âHow on earth are you supposed to vibe around the fake ones, the ones who say they know what is what, but donât know what is what, what the fuckâ âI just get deeper and deeper and deeper into this vibe and pretend that theyâre not there.â I think the reason I like the song so much is the pure passion in it. This isnât the most well spoken person, far from it, but they are PASSIONATE about what theyâre doing. They love to dance, they love house parties, and the experience redeems any negatives that might occur. Itâs a beautiful thing. Thereâs this purity there, no bullshit. Itâs you and the music and others and the music, and this glorious universal sharing, this communication on a cosmic physical level, the whole room jumping at once and smiling and laughing and itâs just beautiful. Iâve been to two raves in my life, and while the second one had some politics, the first one was just that, a beautiful thing, dancing the entire night through, until 6am, your feet sore and loving every fucking second of that pain, and at the end, the end of dancing until your lungs are on fire and your legs are coated in acid and cheering when that song you love comes on and you dance again even when you thought you had nothing left to give, when thatâs all over, and the morning air hits your lungs for the first time, you go to some diner, or Dennyâs, or hell, even McDonalds, and you order food and take a bite into it and nothing has tasted so good in your whole life. THAT is beautiful. Thatâs why I like Song for Shelter.
And now itâs a new album. Well, an old album, older in fact than the album I just listened to, but newer to me, and occurring in the immediacy of this moment and thus, new. Reborn every second of our lives.
On the subject of beauty. Thereâs a lot to it, a lot more than traditional or nontraditional beauty, thereâs more to it than simply aesthetics and traits, visual or internal. There is the pure visceral EXPERIENCE of beauty. The first day in fall when the sun is shining and the leaves are falling and the wind blows steadily from the west, sending wind elementals skittering across the street, tossing dried leaves between them, an elaborate game of catch. The scene is beautiful, but can just as easily be seen as a blustery windy day in autumn, best be careful on the interstate, wind gusts are supposed to get up to 50. Itâs not the scene, itâs the experience of the scene that is beautiful. It is the act of existing within the universe and appreciating that specific moment, grokking the connection between the viewer and the viewed, appreciating your role with every fiber of your being. The experience of beauty. Plucking an apple from a tree in the morning, and climbing a mountain, pulling it out of your knapsack at the summit, the world spreading out in every direction and taking a bite, the juices inside exploding in your mouth. The flavors are richer, the nuances more subtle, there is nothing that tastes quite like it. Itâs all in your head, of course; the change in elevation is not significant enough to actually have a measurable impact on the appleâs composition, but that doesnât matter. The experience of bringing that apple to what is, in essence, the top of the world, and taking that first bite, itâs beautiful. Made up of many worthwhile parts, nothing is as beautiful as the experience. Sitting on the dock at Squam, eating extra rich blueberry pie as a light breeze wafts across the water. Itâs noon, and youâve already been swimming once that day, and will be swimming again shortly after finishing that slice of pie, and the day is just about as idyllic as is possible, and you remember browsing over the point for blueberries, and collecting enough to make that pie, and when itâs done, itâs rich and delicious and exactly what a blueberry pie should be. It is a quintessential blueberry pie, unrepeatable and enjoyed with every bite. The components are beautiful, but the experience outstrips it easily.
It was a sobering and depressing realization when I was younger that others donât feel that way. I would feel so endeared to people when I was able to share these beautiful moments with them, these treasures. I was so quick to love, through sharing these moments, and that love was never returned, and that was isolating. No one âgot itâ. Shel Silverstein got it though. He wrote a poem called Hector the Collector, about a boy who collected little doodads and bits of trash and called out to people to share his treasure and they looked it and called it junk. That pretty much sums up how I felt and feel about my younger years, and to a lesser extent now. The difference now is 3 years old, on a summer afternoon, a cousin playing banjo in the background and sharing the beauty of an experience with a girl, and having her share that experience. I canât quantify how important that is to me, I canât explain that connection, and frankly I donât want to. It simply IS, and thatâs that. Things get rough, and trust is broken and rebuilt, over time, and weâre still going strong. I suppose thatâs what love is, to some extent: the willingness to share the experience with someone else. Hah, getting all mushy, in my final few lines. Ah well, page 20, Iâll pick up again tomorrow.
I was going to write about other things, but at the moment, Iâm listening to a conversation on the other side of the coffee house about how weâve fucked over Mexicans and the complete stupidity of people. Itâs interesting, because theyâre hardcore urbanite liberals. Nothing wrong with that; Iâm pretty liberal myself. Itâs just funny, because they speaking liberally, their opinions are generally attached to the liberal viewpoint, but theyâre acting just as judgemental as the conservative assholes they decry. I suppose I should expect it, people are people after all, but itâs just sort of disappointing.
Uri is reading about witchcraft next to me, and the conversation on the other end has just wound down, one guy finally heading out and a new person now standing at the counter, simply ordering, no extra conversation. The sky outside is a mosaic of blue and clouds, and the sun blurs the edges between the two in glowing light. Thereâs a tree outside that has white blossoms hanging heavily from the branches, mixed with green leaves. I donât know what kind of tree it actually is, and I donât care. Itâs beautiful and shimmers as the light shines through it and the leaves blow in the breeze. Itâs a lotus tree, even if it isnât really. The essence is there, the idea of sitting beneath it in a bucolic other world, reading a book as sheep graze in the fields further down the hill. Achievement of nirvana (though that would be a Boddah Tree, technically; the tree under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment). If you really think about it, nirvana and enlightenment is, ultimately, learning to truly let go and be at peace with yourself and the universe.
Cafe Coccinella, which is the name of this coffee house that I tend to come to and am at now, is an interesting space. It was originally much smaller (well before I began coming), and has expanded into a sideways âhâ of sorts; Uri and I are sitting at the top of the h, on a leather couch that faces the bottom of the h, where the counter is. If I stood up and walked towards the counter and then took a right, it would open out into the âlegâ of the h, where there are more chairs and tables and couches. The coffee house is an afterthought to the building, the pet project of the dentist office next door, from what I understand (I may be wrong). Itâs run by Bahaâis, which doesnât really have any relation to why I come here, at least consciously. Iâm just comfortable here, moreso than other places Iâve gone which tend to have a more commercial feel to them. Those other places are less welcoming. Here, they honestly donât mind if I sit and order a coffee and nurse it for hours while I write and take up space. Iâve spoken with the owner, and know this is true, not just an assumption. They have free wireless access, and want to encourage the atmosphere of it being a place you can hang out or get work done. He started it because he and his friends realized that there werenât really any âcoolâ coffee houses like it on the Eastside, which I can corroborate from my time living here. Thatâs all, thatâs the reason for it: to be a cool place to hang out without having to haul ass to Seattle. Thatâs a pretty awesome reason, in my opinion, and I hope that sentiment proves to be successful. Itâs the sort of thing that needs to be successful. Any example of business being successful without succumbing to corporate mentality is good, and worth supporting. Thatâs still not why I come here with the regularity I do, even now that I live an hour away. Itâs all about comfort. Itâs all about the lack of presumption and pretension, you do what you do and no one is going to give you shit about it.
Soul sickness. I donât really know why I wrote that, but I felt it was important, those two words. We keep on looking at physical or mental illness, we look at the physical effects of disease and disorder. Itâs Lyme Disease. Itâs a bad heart. Itâs depression. These are quantifiable things, these are observable and declarative, definable. But thereâs more to it than that. Thereâs a sickness that isnât definable, that doesnât declare itself in the observable world, but itâs there. The soul, the spirit that defines us as individuals, that is what gets sick in this case. It hinders our energy, our motivation, our imagination, our self worth. It manifests itself in the real world as other problems, which can be treated, but it doesnât treat the soul. Science brushes it off as the purview of religion, and yet we are disillusioned with religion. The soul remains sick. Thatâs what needs fixing. That is what needs help. By we, of course, I mean I. My soul isnât lost, itâs just not well.
What happens when a Godâs soul becomes ill? Are we not like Gods ourselves? I talked about that with Uri over AIM a while ago, that I genuinely feel that we have within ourselves a Godlike self, one that has become trapped and blocked by our bodies and the world around us. We have untapped and untold potential within us, and every once in a while it exerts itself and the truth becomes apparent, and then our self image and our confidence and our fears re-exert themselves, and we become locked away again. This needs to change. We need to reconnect with the world, and our inner selves, our inner Gods, and become who we should be. Face our destiny, our fate, and become our true selves. Bounding through the forest, leaping up mountainsides, these are things that we CAN do, if we just allow ourselves to do so.