Ice Like Sky

4 10 2006

My psychology textbook reads to me: “To survive, we must know the world around us.” People ask why my stories are depressing; if they could defend themselves, and I am sorry that they in themselves cannot, they would say that they are not sad, but instead real. And in that reality, there is a tangle of light and dark, suppressed joy, limited sorrows. Life is far more suited to sadness; maybe we need to take a deep breath, swallow our pride, accept life’s flaws –that it is innately flawed, and instead seek out the glimpses of perfection that sometimes bleed through the smog. A friend, though I haven’t seen him in so long and he doesn’t respond to my correspondence, once told an English professor of mine, who in turn passed on to me, that he would be content if for just five times in his life he was completely happy. To reach nirvana five times and to descend again. Strange, so strange, so miserably painful, to pass through the years of college. English was a good class (reminded me of high school, except we bought more books, spent less time talking, more time listening). When we write stories, or when we share them out loud over a dying campfire beer in hand with the moonlight eroding into sunlight friends all around yellow haze little fireflies, we have an audience, right? That audience we share with, they the listeners, are touched throughout life by experience. So really a story is just one person’s life trying to cross that gap, the space between, to someone else.

I’m always talking about relationships in stories; the bitter joy of a relationship with another. And so I’ve covered something of a range of “events”: adultery in the woods, a lesbian looking for sense and sensation, a lover looking on at a relationship consumed by fire in the distance, and a girl looking for anything. I have not quite yet explored relationships gone stale, maybe that’s worth going into. Passion lost, however, is not quite as interesting (as happy) as passion found. So I try, but of course, reality sets in and everyone rolls their eyes at my stories. My girlfriend, too, sighs at the stories. “Is this one about me,” she asks. “No, but it’s based on you.” Stories approach reality. And that depresses my readers, my fragile and tired audience. But I’m there too, I’ll finish a story and if I engaged it, I cannot remember how it began, so I read from the beginning. And I don’t want a sad story – my life is enough a sad story, just like everyone else’s. But it has to be real, so when we want a happy story, we really only hope for an escape or at best a nirvana-moment. Relationships are just a platform to explore the monotony of life.

I watch a mother leave her crying child in the alley behind my row. Something in my mind brushed a smile onto her face, some pleasure of the strong washing over her sin. I could not care to listen to her cries mixed with the infants’, instead I shut my window. Disappointed in the thoughts I had read upon her face, I began my attempts at rationalizing her motives. She somehow became detached from the crime itself, and when the police came hours later this is all I could recall. Some pleasure of the strong washing over her sin. I could not identify her. She became another story. And it is in the gaps we divide ourselves with that we find ourselves lost in, looking for life – a fully fleshed, joyous and colored in, intelligent life, one painted in the moment.

Just like a mother can so willingly abandon a child, I too, often abandon my craft, my stories. I let them out, never speaking on their behalf (like every author that maintains their own view of a story but accepts and encourages every one to come up with their own, just because it sells more books if they’ve got to try to get it on their own). And everyone to some extent has to let go of their product, or else they get consumed by it; parents know this lesson best of all. And children too, if they can flee the sanctity of impenetrable innocence, if they allow themselves to be poisoned by maturity (it’s both a blessing and a curse), if they choose to see life for what it is (a teeming swamp of failure attempting to save itself from the dredges) instead of what it might be (a swimming pool where everyone gets their fair share and people ask first before jumping in and no one eats less than thirty minutes before getting in). So to grow up, to embrace story, to embrace what we feel is both never true and potentially true, to embrace sadness and look at it not as some morbid fascination with the negative but instead as a genuinely positive perception of what life is, to embrace such a view and learn from it, to do these things, that would be a lot of growing up, and from what I’ve seen, the adult world has a long way to go.


So thanks to my girlfriend because yes, our problems were sometimes cast in slantways light so that I could record (for myself and others maybe too) what was real to me at a time in my life. Thanks to my dad, for giving me the best lie (or double-talk) I could learn from, that we can be optimistic in looking at every potential problem. Thanks to my mom for teaching me that no one wants to read my stories, but that some will do it out of obligation. And thanks to everyone who’s come up to me and shared how depressing my stories are, and have, out of sheer kindness, worried for my life – for you who have stressed about my depression, thanks. I have only embraced the depressions of life, I promise – nothing more, and am wholeheartedly content in knowing my humanity (my depravity?). To more people, so many more, from whom I’ve borrowed incidences of your lives, thank you and sorry and I-hope-it-all-worked-out and a million little emotions I can’t explain; I’ve used your lives as both a canvas and a mirror.

I’m at a turning point in life, another disillusionment from the inside, from which I’m unsure where everything is going. Part of me wants to sort it out in a sudden collectively perfect day, like I used to back when I was younger (back when I could?), but part of me knows it will be sorted out in odd ways knee-deep in a substance I can feel but not understand. And I’m fascinated by the liquid, could it be life, could I drown in it, or could I breathe it, could I escape and walk above it, or float, or rinse my face, is it clear or sticky, and most of all, a question that should put our post-modern sex lives on hold: is it right to introduce someone else to this, can you ethically reproduce without having sorted out what life is or means, or at least whether or not life is honestly worth living. If I could, you know, go back to being a soul and nothing more, just an angel floating above watching people cry, smile, live, I would. But in pursuit of putting on a good show, I go on, for those lucky enough not to live and those who have suffered enough that they’ve stopped living. Maybe this reads like a suicide note to you, but take it instead as a letter, maybe not a “happy” one, but a real one, from me to you, from a friend, a living friend willing to look at life for everything everyone’s prepared an excuse for; I’m against cynics, inside I’m so much the Romantic: feeling is everything, feel the sad, feel that happy, but feel it all at once, let it dance in the icy skies.

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One response

5 10 2006
A Friend

Your mom and I read your last blog entry and we continue to worry about you. Your works of fiction do appear to be cathartic and based upon fact to a significant degree. If they are just you trying to write from another person’s perspective so be it but you do seem to pick extremely depressing issues to explore often, as if you were compelled to discuss your feelings in regards to life and death issues. Why are these things so important to you now Kevin , and why have they have been so important to you since at least the last 2 summers? What worries me the most is that you sometimes appear “clinically depressed”. Kevin, if you are feeling like you are in a dark hole and you can’t climb out of it (you can’t find meaning in life or a reason to live life) you should seek help. You should talk to us and you should be patient with yourself. Maybe you can’t resolve all your concerns by yourself and maybe what you need most is to not worry about it so much right now and give yourself more time. You worry about things way too much. It’s not healthy.

Many of us have had periods in life when we felt that way but if you try to work through those periods they will eventually pass for most of us (they did for me). What worries me the most is that your mom and I wonder why you are so depressed right now. Are you disapointed that you have finally found love in a relationship and it is not perfect so now you want to kill yourself over it? Why are you so obsessed with these issues. When you fell in love it opened up a lot of things which will take some time for you to deal with, at your own pace and to the level of satisfaction you want (you obviously have set very high intellectual standards for yourself).

I knew a guy who shot himself in the foot in high school because his girlfriend broke up with him. One of my best friends in high school was a farm worker on a farm and the farmowner’s daughter also was in our class but when he realized he could never have a loving relationship with her he killed himself. He was a very nice kid and very few other people really knew him inside but that girl and I felt his pain. I told you about another girl who took a shower with her clothes on in college and we had to get her psychiatric help when her boyfriend told her he wanted to move on. I’ve known probably 5 or 6 poeple in life who basically went nuts at your age over relationships. Movies like Basic Instinct explore this phenomena (manefestation of psychological breakdown over relationships) and you are walking on thin ice in general especially at your age and with your experience of never having had more than one true relationship…etc. You do not want to hear it but you are very young and inexperienced. You can say that young people can have the same thoughts or feelings and even more profound thoughts and feelings and of course that is true but I do not think you give credence to the POSSIBILITY that Mom and Dad may actually have some real insight into these issues. We do know you pretty well Kevin and we are not stupid and yes we have had some life experience with these issues ourselves. Our advice to you is stay together if you want but lighten up a little with each other. You are still kids with lots of time to make lifelong decisions. What you do or do not do right now with all the urgent issues going on in your lives are not that critical in the long term view. You are not going to be perfect partners in your relationship. It is not good to have stress in your interpersonal relationship right now especaily. You do not have to make a lifelong decision right now and demonstrate that by every action and thought you have together.

As I’m sure you will show this to Maddy, I want to make it clear to Maddy that you (Kevin) have not discussed any personal issues with us regarding your relationship or even any indication there are any problems in your relationship. I do not want you to get the wrong idea Maddy, Kevin is not complaining to us at all about your relationship. We are just wondering what could cause Kevin to be so up tight and depressed in general unless it was at least a little related to the change you all are experiencing in your lives right now and the pressure of your relationship for both of you. It would seem likely to be at least a factor.

This time of your life can be very stressful, especially in regard to relationships, and my advice to both you and Maddy at this time would be to relax about everything except your schoolwork and just live your lives and focus on each day without letting the stresses of your relationship, those of your roomantes, how your professors appear to percieve you etc. bother you so much. The reality is that you both are very interesting, motivated, gifted and well intentioned kids with a lot to contribute to each other and others in life but you especaiily Kevin are unbelieveably hard on yourself and those around you. You definitely need to lighten up a lot. You do not need to find the meaning of life in one semester. You should be having fun and be experiencing lots of intellectual stimulation and just lighten up a little. Your life should be more interesting now than it’s ever been. You could look at life’s imperfections as being part of a perfect life, one which could not be complete without life’s imperfections. Who gave you the privelege of having a perfect life? You are human and welcome to the party.

The brightest people in the world are often the ones who need the most help psychologically Kevin. The unibomber had an iq in the stratusphere – right. Remember ” The Beautiful Mind” (the movie). Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance sometime as it appears to be exactly what you are going through. You describe life as a zen buddhist would (as pain) and you seem to feel that the most abstract and intellectually valid way to look at life is as “pain”, “shallowness”, “depression”, “disapointment” etc. Imagine a hypothetical person who would read your blog and not know you at all other than from your blog and how would they percieve you? What would they think after reading your blog? You may very well not care what they think but it is insightfull. They would think you need help Kevin. They would percieve a person who is clinically depressed and in need of help. If that is truly the case listen to some advice on how to help yourself a little and lighten up! We do not want to lose our brilliant and noble son for any reason. Get help if you need it. Do not make any rash decisions and give yourself time to work through problems.

Your entire family cannot help but read your blog entries and think you’ve gone completely off the deep end and wonder why. You have every advantage life can give to you (just about) but you do not appear to be happy. Does that sound familiar to you? Why not choose to be happy. If you want to live the moment, why not choose to live it as if it did mean something? Why assume that it doesn’t just because you cannot rationalize it, you cannot prove it intellectually yet, or if ever. Who cares if you are right and also ,,,Can you prove you are right? I doubt that very much. Do you want to take that chance given the facts before you now? What is the long term point of your mission other than a wasted life and hurtful relationships, always finding faults in yourself and others. Life will pass you soon enough. If you come up short to some degree like the rest of us no one will admire that effort. They will think how incredibly stupid that was to waste this incredibly wondrous life feeling that way.

Your mom could not even go to bed tonight because she is so worried. She has to get up tomorrow at 5AM and she cannot even go to sleep because she is worried about you. Your life does have meaning for the rest of us Kevin and we do not have to prove it with a priori logic.

Please seek help if you need it by discussing it with us, with Maddy, your friends or a counselor. I hope this helps you Kevin because we do not want to lose you and we also do not want you to waste whatever happiness life gives you. It’s not worth it and this is not double talk. I do not just make this stuff up Kevin. I do believe every word I said.

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