Moments in Time

They taunt me like little spirits as I walk down the street, as I sit on the train, as I stand patiently by the oven cooking my dinner, as I sit here in front of this fancy fucking machine.

I ‘feel’ and ‘see’ and ‘hear’ words in my head everywhere I go, small compositions of carbon-based clarity turning this way and that, catching the light, giving shape and form to nothingness, bright imperfections summoned from the ground. I try to capture them, sketch them out, speak them into existence, but when I reach for the net of the pen, they slide out from under my thumb like a fragment of eggshell in a bowl. I make a motion toward my notebook and they burn to nothing like fog in the sunlight. I’ve had visions of forever.

I’ve seen the Fourth Dimension. I’ve watched gateways to other worlds spin silently before me, wholly indescribable in their elegance and simplicity. But all that’s left behind as proof sits naked on the page like a bowl of dead shit, flat, wet, smelling something awful. Stupid fucking words. I want something that plugs directly into my skull and translates those images instantaneously.

Walking down the street, observing, struggling to ascertain The Full Meaning. DASH bus in blue glass glides past, empty seats, no passengers. Old black man with a song and dance asks for a dollar, some spare change. Sorry, I have nothing to offer, I only carry plastic. “God bless you!” he shouts at my back, as though this might guilt me into handing over a twenty. I stop, turn around. “If there was a God, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?” That stops him for a moment, giving me time to wander on.

We broadcast our personalities like little radio stations in the endless details of our clothing, our cell phone colors, our accessories, choice in footwear. Then we hide in the little DJ booth of our minds, screening callers, hoping the right listener will pick up the phone and make our half-understood dreams come true. How the fuck is someone else supposed to understand us when we’re not even sure what or who we are? There’s a good chance we’ll blow ourselves to Hell before we get a chance to evolve further. Time spent dealing with issues of racism, religion, sexism and politics are undermining our efforts to turn our focus inward, improve ourselves from within.

We are born, we become aware of ourselves and our surroundings. (Red comes first, I read somewhere, and circles soon after. Toy companies exploit this fact. It is the only feasible explanation for an abomination like Barney.) We begin to live our lives in response to our environments, at first, and later as response to life itself. We run this traveling road show by a wild list of rules which seems to change with the wind. Sometimes we bend it to suit others who may or may not realize the impact they have on our lives, while struggling to impart some sort of permanence or meaning to what feels like an eternal existence, but in reality lasts eight decades at best.

There is no such thing as security, not really. Iron bars can hold back a man’s flesh, but not his spirit. The expensive sports car wraps around a telephone pole just as easily as the Ford Fiesta. Your mobile home glows just as hot and burns just as bright as the palatial estate of some bad boy actor in the Hollywood hills. Your wealth can’t be carried across the River in clay jars, as once believed.

‘There are more goddamned/
cars on this planet than we/
know what to do with.’

It would take an entire lifetime for us to fully understand one person – picture a well equipped facility somewhere; men wearing safety goggles and dressed in white lab coats take apart your childhood one moment at a time, carefully unraveling the timeline of every curious thing that ever happened to you. Hold it up to the light, weigh it on a scale, measure it against some agreed-upon chart, examine how this might have affected you later in life, move on to the next one… Freeze one of these moments: See, the elderly man boarding the morning train at the front of an impatient crowd. You let him go first, out of respect for your elders. More follow in the gap you just created. The old man takes a second too long to find an empty seat, creating a bottleneck in the doorway. This effect ripples, until you find yourself at the back of the slow-moving crowd, and then the doors close. You missed your train. Had you been to work ten minutes earlier, there would have been ample hot water for your coffee. As it was, you were forced to fill your mug with warm water.

If I could give my childhood self one piece of advice, it would have been this: “Skip the toys – and stop worrying about the girls, they’re as lost as you right now. Here’s what I want you to do. Get yourself a cassette player, and then beg, borrow or grovel your way into a word processor. Start massing tapes, different kinds of music. Anything that sounds good to you. Start writing music reviews and submitting them to magazines. I don’t care if they reject the first five, the second ten, the next fifty – keep ‘em coming, striving to get better and better with each attempt. And read this list of books! Get familiar with these concepts! Oh, and be on the lookout for something called a ‘Dot Com.’”

I’m counting on you, kid…


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