That moment comes each night when we fully embrace its presence. The day has ended and we’re beyond any gray area regarding its continuation. Day things can no longer be done. They are delayed, postponed, and reconsidered or abandoned altogether.
This comes as a relief for some, a reset button of sorts, while for others it remains a cloud comprised of every inevitable tension. An immense pressure hanging uncomfortably over head.
But what the night begins is more than the partial suspension of day to day activity. As it’s limit, it defines our waking world, opening the doorways of possibility. Evoking rememberance of those things that failed to occur.
Dreams of what might have been are resurrected crossing the borders into night. Born anew, these might-have-been moments reemerge as possibilities and are given the chance to be more than fantastic.
These are the whispers that promise better than has been. These are the lures that entice from the well worn path. Day to night, night to day, time and again, over and over. Until night be made more real for the dreams and hopes embraced.
The starting point was a feeling of calm. I felt really content upon waking. That feeling, I wanted to carry it over throughout my day, so I really tried to hold it in my mind. I tried to get at why I felt so relaxed. Comfortable in my skin.
I am sure that one of the first things that helped me get to this sensation was the fact that I had acknowledged my current level of negativity. I got it out in the open. Named it and reclaimed my desire for something other than that. I want to be more constructive. I truly want myself and others to feel good. I want to make a difference. But there was more to it than that.
While relaxing in bed, before falling asleep, I watched a lovely video about Derrida on Alain de Botton’s channel: The School of Life. It was a wonderfully paced review of Derrida’s life, influence, and some of the key lessons to be had from his thought. The idea that most resonated with me last night was the concept of Aporia.
The video went on to explain the point in the life of a ‘mature mind’ when a person realizes that everything is as far from black and white as one can get. Things are tangled up and irreducible to the neat and tidy little binaries that we try and cram them. There are good and bad elements in almost all situations and it is unproductive to believe that there is little value to be had from investigating all sides.
Now it would be silly to imagine that I have somehow, through the course of a single viewing, completely digested and internalized Derrida’s thought on the matter. Further study will no doubt be required and assiduously tended to. But the seed of the idea was planted last night, and it has made all the difference to me.
It’s alright, in fact, it’s downright normal, to find that things are not as they could be. That there are no hard and fast right and wrongs when it comes to constructing the now from the ambiguous offerings the future lies before us. And it was this thought that gave me pause. Helped make me more comfortable in my skin.
All of my feelings, good and bad, had a place. A contented content.
So much more to be done. And I am glad for it.
There are a great number of words that pour out of my mouth that serve no real purpose. I say them for effect. Often as a retaliation for the ignorance I feel pervades a given situation. Someone does or says something stupid and 9 times out of 10 I feel obliged to pipe in.
But nearly every time that I give in to the urge to call out the ‘dumb’ that surrounds me nothing is improved by my noting it and calling it out. In fact the opposite of helpful takes place. I end up discouraging people that might have regretted their own actions or sayings on their own. But now that I have called them out to task they become defensive.
What I am trying to get at is that I say and do a lot of things that don’t improve life around me. I don’t know why I am impulsively negative, but I have my suspicions, none of them admirable. We all do things we aren’t proud of and the last thing we want is to have our errors pointed out by someone that is uninterested in you as a person and more interested in looking smart.
Efforts must be made to curb this. Days when I practice constructive language generally improve my overall well being and that of those dearest to me. I need to bear that in mind before I open my mouth critically. Need to remember to ask: What will this change? How will this make things better?
The character of the street where I live is varied and, to me, somewhat sad. Two blocks from my residence there is an apartment building that houses a number of registered sex offenders. Next to this are two smaller buildings of apartments which house several families with children. Criminality seems to lurk below the surface, just around the corner, in every direction from the house where I live with my own wife and child. And it seems to linger, not quite threatening, but ready to strike should someone, one of us in the neighborhood, protest too much.
Next door to us is a man who rents homes to a number of persons with interesting past times and no discernible means of employment. One man, a regular drunkard, has harangued and harassed not only us but several of our neighbors across the street. He once relieved himself onto the street in front of his landlord’s house, exposing himself to our neighbors grandchildren across the way. The police were called but merely escorted the man back to his hovel with recommendations of ‘sleeping it off’.
This same man has harassed another woman who lives alone. He yells at her in the street and gesticulates wildly when she drives to and from her home. She is frightened and has called the police on many different occasions. The last time she called he was arrested and driven away, only to return two days later.
He stands in the yard drinking from bottles in paper bags, ear buds in place, shouting garbled, incomprehensible lyrics to what appear to be aggressive and angry songs.
Then there are the folks that have bought and remodeled their homes. Turning them into expensive mini-estates. They come and go via their garage. Never venturing forth but to go to and from their jobs. Their eyes concealed by sunglasses. Their faces averted to the street as a whole. They have lawn men, and handy men, that do all that needs doing out in the open where the rest of my neighbors move and breathe.
We are a community of socially exhausted loners and sad reprobates.
There is a strange rhythm to the days that make up the long tail of the Summer in Texas. The air is thick and sticks to the skin and clothes. The kinky unruliness in the curl of hair daily made straight by the different ladies makes for a barometer for the rains likely to come. Clouds invading the otherwise clear and sunny skies faster than an army after oil. Gone just as quick.
On days like these you wait for the breaks and changes. The little moments when the sun is low, in the mornings and evenings, a breeze is easier to come by and the shadows longer and cooler. You stretch and move with a quicker step. Drink down your coffee, which is honestly too hot a thing to be having given the weather, but you do. A light breakfast. No lunch. And a long and full dinner accompanied by ice tea and dessert.
Stories gather importance in these times. They come as welcome breaks against the discomfort of the heat. Summer beats at you with two clenched fists. Not hard enough to knock you over, but strong enough, reminding you that you are small and weak. You think about getting the hell out of the heat. Moving somewhere cooler. Someplace without a 100 degree summer.
But the skies are big and the nights bring bigger dreams. A hearty pride takes up in your heart and you see a place that might be worth making roots for. Home. Things come. Things go. Bad times always seem to linger longer than the good. But it comes down to a balance between the two. I stretch out and find myself where I need to be. The strange pulse of belonging and the promise of a restful peace some time, not too far off, but far enough. Big enough.
There is a strange rhythm to the days that make up the long tail of Summer in Texas.
Change is inevitable, and without it there could be no hope. But the reality of the commonplace, the average, the mean, dictates that hope can only ever be a short lived shuffling. A spark that flares in an instant and then is gone out. It may catch, may light the world around you on fire, but more often it only reveals in a flash the ugly lines of the reality of being. The sharper lines making each difficulty more hurtful than the last.
L. has experienced her first great encounter with change. A friend has moved from our city to another. Her world has been rocked and I can feel the gnawing ache in her chest as she wrestles with sadness. I am hesitant to offer a fix, to try and make things better, too quickly or easily. Life cannot be fixed. It will not become easier, only more commonplace. Truth be told, I have no fix, so I couldn’t do anything even if I wanted.