Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The End of Wanting?

The End of Wanting?

I've been traveling. It was at the top of my “bucket list”. A rare concordance of time, money and life situation has allowed me to challenge myself once again and pry myself out of my physical comfort zone and visit places and people I may never have the chance to visit again. Oh...and play some of my songs. There IS that: my odd and socially uncooperative little songs.

Being the dutiful little project-oriented worker bee that I am, I assigned myself the task of documenting via video the various open mics I play at and places and people I visit (when appropriate). This gives me a goal and a purpose and keeps the gray void at bay.

Now, it's a gray void and not a black one because it's not a particularly sad void...more a neutral one. It doesn't really hurt, it is just a place of stillness that finds no interest in the world of sensation. It is a lack of “want” more than anything else, but it has been begging the question of what is left to you when your “want” abandons you.

As I write these words I'm sitting in a noisy and crowded coffeehouse in Nashville. At the table behind me is a British musician who is droning on loudly and inanely to a younger woman sitting across from him about the vagaries of being a touring musician and how much cooler England and New York City are than little 'ole Nashville. He drops names and talks about his lawyer...the one he apparently owns. His words are all words of wanting: wanting more fame, wanting more money, wanting more attention...the latter specifically, at the moment, from the young lady who he probably envisions in his hotel bed later on that evening. I listen to him and say to myself “that is not me”. It really isn't. I'm not sure if it ever was. Part of it, perhaps...I'm finding it harder and harder to remember. I observe him like I'm observing some kind of predatory insect...but a predatory insect with a massive ego and a heart and groin aflame with desire.

Despite his volume and nature, I feel no contempt...that would imply some kind of attachment...and I'm feeling very unattached...all I feel is a wisp of wry amusement and a bit of annoyance that his braying voice is making it hard to concentrate.

The void is making me feel almost like some kind of statue...some motionless carved thing peering down on the people scampering by with all of their hopes and fears. But a thing that, again, feels no contempt or condescension or any sense of superiority...it just kind of stands there and watches the human drama pass by.

Until I pick up my guitar, or my camera...or have a really engaging conversation...then the statute comes alive.

Interestingly enough, the void has also been increasingly offset by moments of pure joy...mainly when I am alone in nature, but at other random times as well. At those times the void is replaced with a glowing incendiary fullness...my soul catches fire and I have periods where I actually feel incredibly connected and embraced and loved...but by no human agency...more by the collective sum of all existence itself. At those moments I find myself wanting to ride that wave into infinity. I want to rise up from this dying place and find the vibrancy that beckons me from that beautiful shining horizon. It feels like the home I've longed for from the day I came here and found myself living in this strange fleshy frame.

A frame that has been throwing me a few curves of late.

I'm wondering if I'm ill...I should probably find out. There are days when I wake up and I can barely breathe. My lungs are on fire and every inhalation is agonizing. With this, most of my joints and muscles ache and I can barely do more than lie down for the entire day. If I stand or sit or (especially) bend over, my pulse throbs in my head and my lungs scream. This only seems to happen, incidentally, when I wake up on my right side...which people with reflux are not supposed to do. It doesn't feel like reflux though. I'm not sure what it is, but it and my stricken and increasingly aging face collude together on those fortunately-infrequent days to send me the message that time is no longer on my side...and that it has not been for quite a while.

And then the next day it's like nothing happened.

It came again the other day. I woke up on my right side and spent the day in hell. My consciousness seemed to split down the middle: the part attached to my body was truly frightened. That part was terrified that I might be dying all alone in my van in a questionable state park in the middle of Tennessee. The other half...the half that has become so strangely still, observed it with detached acceptance “Is this it? Am I dying? Not how I pictured it, but I'm OK with it. I wish it didn't hurt as much, but if it's my time it's my time”.

It wasn't my time, apparently. When I get back to my woods I may get this looked at. I'd be interested in knowing what it is, even if for that quiet part of me the interest is largely academic.

All of which is a very odd place to be: alone and OK with it...thrilled about it at times, other times a bit wistful...but the hunger is gone, the desire for that heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul connection with another person that followed me everywhere I went for all of my life. Unconcerned about my own future (more concerned about the prospect that I may have more future coming to me than I'm prepared to handle, frankly...life is expensive...and hard). Sad that the natural world around me is falling to pieces, but philosophical about it as it's a mote in the field of infinity...beautiful though it was for a while, before the humans came.

What is the name of this place I find myself in now? People seem to be in charge of naming everything...what name does this thing have? I've tried attaching various names to it, but none seem to suffice. Depression? Burnout? Nope...not even ennui seems to make the grade.

Perhaps when I can give it a name I'll write a song about it. Will that make it go away? Do I want it too?


  1. Wow man. You ARE on fire. Pain and realizations in big mean balance. I love your writing.

  2. Great post! Any idea what might be going on health wise? That's rather scary.
    Totally jealous of the traveling. I've wanted to just hit the road and go for years now... sounds awesome.