Ha na ga. Someone once told me this is how you structure story. Character, conflict, resolution. Why is it so often I feel like I’m caught in conflict, uncertain of my character? Why does it feel like that my life is a movie but I wasn’t given any lines? I am an extra, part of the scenery, existing only to give this universe verisimilitude. Maybe I can play a tree, rooted in misery, grounded in nutrient-deficient soil. To look at my life objectively, I’m not doing too badly. Who am I today? Presumably a thinker, or one who is interested in thinking. The normal answer: an online ESL Instructor, a Writing Coach, a lazy talent, an American expat living in Portugal. I live in a cluster of townhouses with my bedroom window overlooking a swimming pool. It hasn’t been warm enough to go swimming but we are on the cusp of summer, a fancy way of saying Spring. Mr. Cuddles made a fine splash as MystiCrystal tricked me into pushing him in by appealing to my ego, assuring me Cuddly was too wily to be pushed in shown by her errant attempts, but I, on the other hand, was sure to succeed if I gave it my best efforts. I felt a mixture of guilt and pleasure after it was over and witnessed the satisfying splash, later learning it had echoed up the roof and through the window into BlueBeard’s room. It never snows here, and I live with Porco Dio, MystiCrystal, and Blue Beard. In the past year or so, I’ve come to think of myself as ChineseSpy. It is not because I am actually a spy, but because I’ve been accused by one by the local Cardiff crazies that must’ve felt I was using my iPad mini video recorder a bit too liberally. Most of my time is my own, yet I feel like I am wasting my time, whenever I’m not writing or fulfilling my ambitions.
I am 900.00 in debt and slowly working my way out. I think about whatever society tells me I should think about: personal success, self-love, and happiness. It is not so much that I think I will ever be rid of the voices that implant the ideological forces into my mind, it is more that I can see through what “the voices” are trying to do. Dismantle the fallacies that crop up in the usual flow of thoughts that involve the pursuit of pictures. I reflect a great deal of where I’ve been and think little of where I am going. I have a beef to take up with desire, as it has left me arthritic and impotent so much of the time, both on a literal and figurative level. I’ve found that I’ve made some enemies in my life, permanent fixtures that filter through my mind like waves of distortions, foes who are living rent-free in the attic. I’m discovering that I’ve never been psychologically alone, but so dependent on those around me to navigate my way through life. When I think about what it is I would like to give to the world, it is something I can’t quite put my finger on, can’t quite summon the words to speak. Is it a warning? A motto? A different perspective? More abstractly, a truth?
Sometimes I just like to perceive wholly, fully, as much as I can, whatever there is to perceive. I’m the kind of person that can wax poetic about something as simple as a shoelace for an extended period of time, riffing simply on the straight-laced functionality of it all, expending creative energy to pinpoint the importance of something we take for granted. It seems to me, so many people spend so much time churning out waste, objects, knick-knacks, paraphernalia, effects, stuff, and things that most of us who are now groomed to be professional consumers don’t think about the path those object will take, the narrative trajectory of it all. Where it’s all been and where it is going. We, the people, all have expiration dates, but nature can neatly and completely recycle us, unlike the plastic flotsam and jetsam floating in our seas. I made a mistake and watched some Holocaust footage on Netflix tonight. So stark and surreal, surprised I didn’t emote with the interviewees who reviewed their experience, the unfathomable toll. I am numb. To bring in any frame of analysis seems disconnected, disingenuous, stupid. How did things go from A to B to C? How is it that this footage even exists? And what were we all thinking? By we, I don’t mean me, but humanity of course.
Sometimes I like to pretend, not as a form of militant self-delusion, but as a means to put things into perspective, that reincarnation is real and that somehow, out of a karmic contract, I chose all this for a very special reason. My life, its particular set of circumstances, my race, my gender, my nationality. I know it is most likely a coping mechanism. I wish I were in control of this all on some level and that life wasn’t the one that was eating into me, but I into it. Of course, I know it isn’t true. I’m not special enough to have a karmic path or a past life. I am not special and someday I will die and will soon be forgotten, by all those other people that act like their every action should be memorialized. I think that for many, this would be a depressing thought, but for me it is freeing because it takes the pressure off. I want to be forgotten, not only so my mistakes can be cleared, but because everyone always seems to misinterpret what I’m about, where I’m coming from, what I was thinking. I think it’s best for everyone if I would just go crawl into a hole and die, at least from a social standpoint, so that no more misunderstandings can occur.
Like most everyone else, I’m aware there are things that I’ve chosen without being aware of what it is I was choosing. I’m aware that I’ve made choices whose consequences left me worse for the wear, though I pretended that those choices were foisted onto me from some sick individual who intended my demise from the get-go. I’ve gone through some bad shit. I look in the mirror and see little evidence of it. I’ve been mistaken for being 18 by an 18 year-old when I was 32. I’ll be turning 34 in a couple of months and I feel in my body I’ve aged somewhat. I don’t value my looks. I am dowdy. I take fewer baths here than I did back in the U.S., once every couple weeks to be exact. My shoulders are perpetually stiff. MystiCrystal has done one of her rigorous massage sessions on me, but somehow I always end up feeling the tension leaking back in. I need to do more pushups. Take up vacuum sales again, so I can work the muscle. I need to move my body, iron out the kinks in my mind, and free myself psychologically.
When I think about what others would’ve done had they faced some of the situations I’ve faced, I wonder if they would’ve handled things any differently. I sometimes wish my life was an elaborate hoax, not that someone was playing on me, but that I was playing on everyone else. I guess I wish my life was like the opposite of the Truman Show, where I am actually the actor that will reveal at some later time, that every interaction I’ve had with the “others” was for the purposes of entertaining an anonymous audience. I guess there are so many ways I wish I could distance myself from what I’ve experienced, represent myself as someone who is the wise tree frog, as MystiCrystal calls people, one of those who sits on her citadel, stoic, and distanced from the common drama. Oh, if only that were the real truth about me. I find it difficult to say what the actual truth was–in so many situations I’ve faced. I’ve known I would miss my mark, though still took a shot. I cannot say for sure, of course, but I get the sense that I’ve failed quite a bit more than most. If I were being euphemistic about my life, I would say, that I’ve tested and counter-tested my null hypotheses with sometimes disastrous results.
I think we all feel compelled, whether we realize it or not, to compress our experience into story. I am aware that some stories, without conflict, are boring. What if I went through life never struggling again, never suffering over any bad news? I’d like to find out how it would be.
I feel like I’ve reigned myself in a bit too much in my life so far, assumed too many times I knew what would make me happy, then doggedly tried to beat life into a shape that would please me. I came by it honestly. I had a family that actually grew angry over the fact that I didn’t have a plan for my life, like I was waging personal attack against them because my indecision gave them the idea that I was never going to get off their sofas. It is a fair interpretation but one entirely false. I have not spoken to my family for quite a while now. Some months…perhaps eight. The circumstances of my life have undergone so many changes in the past 16 years, it makes my head spin. I have never been really that afraid of changes, but I have never really wanted to welcome the chaos into which it slowly devolved. For once in my life, I finally feel like I can make sense what I’ve been through, understand both the highs and the lows.
When I sit down, write out my thoughts, think a bit more seriously about what it’s all about, I’d have to say it’s been about a lifetime of confusion. I have mainly been confused about what I’ve seen…up until now.