Old woman in seaman's bethel: You are not at peace, young man.
C: No. No, I'm not. I don't even remember what peace is.
Owisb: Ask God. He will tell you.
The thing about advice is you can reach a point in life when you have tried, a thousands times over, anything that anyone might say to you. You are not wrong to not admit defeat and give in--you can't--because you do something better than someone has ever done anything else and that thing has value for the world, for your time period, for history, for commerce and personal money matters, and what should be there for you is there for you--if only you can get to it.
Some people in your life who know or should know you have tried these things, tried them twice, tried them twenty times, tried everything your creative brain could come up with, will tell you to do them anyway, as this was an original idea they just hatched, as if they never once actually paid attention to anything happening or that you labored to share with them.
When you do do what they say, because you already do a thousand things at once, so what's 1001, and it does not, of course, work, they will then reverse course and say, "I told you so."
You wonder if they are that obtuse or that hypocritical. But you keep the weather eye on them after that, and you know you can never, ever, truly--and things could be wonderful, you could have gotten to where you're trying to get and be the happiest person ever--view them as completely on your side. You know you have to always be wary of them, no matter what. You can smile, you can hide it, but how you think and feel about them will always be what it became. And you can never forget that, even if you want to. It becomes as ingrained as your DNA. You know what you're dealing with. There is no un-knowing.
There will come a time when you won't be able to handle them anymore, when it takes all you have to not slip over the edge as it is, as each day gets worse. And you accrue this kind of awful, sad wisdom that you can't talk to anyone about: Because the truth is, even people who in theory ought to like you, the people in your life, are going to be threatened by you when their weaknesses are your extreme, unique strengths. They will be defensive, and angry. They'll project. It will be a very rare person in your life, I mean up close and present in it, who will not try to get a knife into you.
Things are not going well. They are slipping further. This world, this life, recedes further from me, or I from it. Them. Today I paced back and forth across a seaman's bethel asking God what he could possibly want of me. Why give someone this much ability, strength, will, and this much of so much else, only to have them suffer more the greater they get, the better they get, as an artist and a person?
Is it a joke between God and Moses? Is it some experiment to see what some person, one person, can endure? Am I a hypothesis of the beyond?
I am at the point where I am arranging my plans for my days based upon finishing certain works, organizing this computer, buying hard drives and sending my files to various people--none of whom I expect to do anything with them after I am gone save throw them away or forget about them--so that should the worm turn after I am gone, my legacy will have what it needs. Right now, it needs novels (specifically, it needs four I have started or am staring--The Freeze Tag Sessions, Musings with Franklin, Done Eden, Wing Wax--and one I have finished, Meatheads Say the Realest Things: Satire from the End of Civilization.) But I tell myself, "You can at least organize it, each hard drive can be, at minimum, the formal work you want to be known by. Tend to it the best you can." The body of work right now, in a massive understatement, is massive. The millions of pieces of correspondence that comprise my Comcast email account I am less sure how to handle. They document something, over many years, that even this journal does not, being relatively new.
So it's like a deadline, but an actual deadline. I don't belong in this world. Is that what I am supposed to do? Take a leap of faith and leave this world and maybe I go to another world where it is Keats and Beethoven and me and we all compete and everyone grows and may the best person win? Increasingly it seems that there is nothing here for me, no one who does not bore me, no commonality. I am like some alien who is where he has no business being. I learn more, I grow more, I create ever more works of art to always last--and I get further away from everyone else. I would love a world where it's Proust, Shakespeare, me, Melville, Fitzgerald, and there's only one slot for one work of art after we each came up with one, and it is going to the person who created the actual best work, it will be solely on merit. I would love that. I would do that all day every day against those guys. Let's compete. I'd be so confident every day walking into that room. Talking some trash. Waving my papers around. And they'd be like, "Oh, shit, here he comes again."
I used to think that's what life was about, learning and growing, and you always tried to learn and grow more. But if you do, you'll be screwed, it seems. Isn't that just the worst ever cosmic joke? But who does it really affect or bite in the ass? Because most people can't grow, most don't learn. So they're fine. It's like you are rewarded for indolence and ignorance. Here, have a present. Meanwhile, you, over there: it's time to beat your ass down in the house of pain. Grow and learn on our watch, will you?
The other night I went out on a date. Which I never do. So many people now can't spell four words correctly consecutively. I'm not looking to have involved discussions on The Pickwick Papers and if Van Gogh was an underrated draughtsman or if Sam Morgan's jazz is the most authentic New Orleans jazz we have or if Doug Harvey was a better defenseman than Ray Bourque. I can only have those conversations with myself, because people don't know anything about anything usually anymore, let alone all of that. I'm not going to have an intellectual peer who can go everywhere I go. But if you were smart on your own, and open-minded, I could kind of coach you up, maybe? Bring you into new worlds? I used to hope that could be the case. But now I stare at these notes comprised of misspellings, acronyms, and emojis--and they can be from doctors, lawyers, business presidents--and I think, "What the hell? This is the best there is? I am supposed to make this work?" That's before you get into the shoddy thinking, all of the depression and mental illness, the anger that dominates personalities and personas today. The people who can only say the same three things. How was your weekend? People who have no passion who need you to have none. People who have no idea what the concept of purpose is. People whose lives are social media and Netflix and self-medicating. People who scream their politics at you without any prompting or relevance. People who ask you what you did on your weekend, get an honest answer, and then quail over the gap between you and them. People you could reveal so much to about what you just did, what you learned, what you created, and each and every time--because they have either nothing to say, or so much fear, or both--will respond with a "Wow!" an "Awesome!" a "Neat!" and you can experiment with this and see how many times in a row you can get them to respond thusly, and it will be an indefinite amount of times. You can hang in for a week or two, but what they want is either A. Someone who also can make due with just a "Wow!" and that is the communicative basis of being together or B. Someone much closer to who they are, to whom they will say more things, albeit things of a prosaic nature, but with some added words and specificity, because they are more comfortable, they recognize that kind of person, it's familiar to them because it's like who they are. Most people flat out say, "I'm a simple person looking for the same."
So, the date. Four hours. Just talking. You'd think that's good. I knew it wasn't good. There was nothing there for me. So why did I stay out? I try to force myself. I'm lonely. I try and say, "You never know." But I know. And I knew, too, that we'd never speak again. I knew that all along.
People want someone like them. Someone wants to spend four hours with me because I'm a spectacle to them, a night's entertainment. I'm an experience. It's fascinating and moving and I talk differently than other people and I'm funny and there are huge whole new perspectives and it's thought-provoking and larger-than-life.
But it's not your life if you're not me. I'm not like you. I am far beyond your familiar, accepted, assumed ken. And people don't want that. My friend says they do and will, and people I know and knew will come out of the woodwork with all kinds of new tunes, too, but he is talking about in the sense of my work, provided I have the proper chance, some semblance of a fair chance, but I do not know that he is correct. But in this instance I am talking about on a one-to-one basis. Plato would want that person. I don't meet female Plato. Plato is not out there anymore in this world.
And I don't think, right now, that anything is going to become of all of the great works of art and entertainment I have, because what is put out is garbage by people who are well-liked by an evil, reader-killing industry. They will not let you do anything new. They won't let good writing through. Everything has to be some combo of cliched, pretentious, obvious, bathetic, hackneyed, awful, and it has to be able to be pitched as, "This awful work is like this old awful work crossed with this other old awful work." The greater you are, the more your work could be loved, truly loved, the more screwed you are as this system presently functions. And right now, you also have to be the right color and/or the right gender. You have to trade on your gender and you have to race bait. You have to be liked by bad, petty, elitist, insecure, visionless people of an endlessly backwards system.
I don't know what to do. Something needs to happen soon. I'm feeling like I'm an empty, cracked coffee cup. And each day, I'm put in the microwave and time-cooked for eighteen hours. No water in me. Just this cracked coffee cup. And each day I go back into the microwave. And at some point, I'm going to bust apart, I'm not going to be anymore if I don't get out of that microwave, getting filled instead with lovely fresh coffee, aired out on a back porch by the seaside with salty breezes in the air, enjoyed by good people who welcome me.
I trust no one at this point. I am not sure if I love anyone. I am, at most, loved by one person. It's just a silly TV show, but there is an episode of Cheers where the bar patrons are debating the worst way to die. Norm and Cliff, of course, are offering up physical ways--sliding down a greased razor banister, for instance. Frasier then opines that there is no worse way to die than knowing you are alone and unloved. And they laugh him out of the room, because they don't get it, as they are only conceiving of physical pain. I think about that line a lot. I am headed there.