I'm rarely around anyone during this phase of my life, and nor do I talk to anyone, but when I do, it's reaffirmed to me just how much people usually simply want to die. They don't want to live. They think they're all done, and when that's what you believe, you are all done. Doesn't matter your age. But people settle into this early on. It can be around thirty. There is no hope, no plans, no dreams, and no effort. No vision, no purpose. What happens is what happens. People want to see people they know be okay, I guess, as they get older. But that's like a checklist attended to by computerized feelings. Is that person okay? Did I see that kid or grandkid do this or that? Was I at their birthday party? Did I have the perfunctory conversation with my child over the phone that we have every week to ten days?
I find this incredibly depressing and defeatist. No one has had a worse life to date than I have. No one has a worse quality of life. No one is in a worse situation, when you look at all of that and measure it against who I am, what I do, what I put out there, what I deserve, and what is happening to me and the reasons why. No one has ever lived with more injustice done to them. No one has ever been this discriminated against. There has never been an artist close to the level of this one, and this one is being kept from the world. I have been entirely alone for more than a decade. There is twenty hours or so of work every day. Which makes matters worse. And that's it, unless you count stairs, so that I don't have a heart attack and die.
But I am not dead or wishing to be, like pretty much everyone I do encounter when I encounter them. They've given up. They speak the language of having given up, of playing out the string.
I rip--wring--meaning from every single thing in my life. I seek out things to rip and wring meaning from. I am fired. Every day, I stoke the flames again, I add to the fire. I burn with life. I submerge myself in that fire. I inhale it, feed it, feel it, learn from it. I am alive with it.
I make decisions that allow me to add to it, get more from it, ready myself for a future when the fire pairs with joy in other parts of my life.
I was talking to someone yesterday, and they were going on about death. How maybe they'd live another ten years. I'm sitting there saying, well, there's a lot to live for, and there are things to do. We can influence our quality of health.
They wouldn't have it. They said, no, it's mostly genetics, and you can't change after a certain point or age.
I'm thinking, you can change in two seconds. You can change this very moment. We could go do this.
I don't know my family health history. People think that's scary. I don't want to know. If I knew that everyone I'm biologically related to had a heart attack at an early age, what do yo think I'd do? Accept that for me? Or would I fight against it by taking steps?
I believe we have a huge say in our health and how long we live, and how active we are later in life. I think I could be an amazing parent. If I become a parent at seventy, I will be a parent for thirty odds years. I will be as active as I am now. Because I will never have stopped. My spirit will not let me. I am not someone who gives in, says, eh, that's probably enough, or "I don't feel like it, so I won't."
I say to myself, "I don't care whether you feel like it or not, chief. Get off your fucking ass." I answer to that voice. I will always answer to that voice. So why tell me how it will be later on? Your rules don't apply to me. I am in the fire. I am the fire.
With physical health, for all of the studies, there are just things that help you live a long life. Call them consistent themes. Don't drink. I have that sorted. Exercise. I have that sorted. Drink water. I have that sorted. I think if you run thousands of stairs every day, don't consume alcohol, dump things down your throat throughout the day that are good for you, that you'll be okay for a long time.
But what I have learned is people don't want to do anything. They are intractably unwilling to try. It's not just a physical thing. People are unwilling to think. To go out and learn anything, too. To add anything to themselves or their minds. Do you not understand that this adds to how long you will be on this earth? The body takes its cue from your mind and spirit.
This Zulu thing is funny in a way, but I believe it. Being this fire is being a Zulu warrior. I never do can't. I refuse. Things are obviously not happening at the rate I want, and I should have had a lot of what I deserve about fifteen years ago. I will get it. I will get it all. It will be a bigger all than we'e ever seen. I don't know when.
But I do know that when I get it, I will be here for a long time after, with it. What that number--that age--is when I do get it doesn't matter because of all of the time that will be left to me in following. I want it sooner, because I don't believe God--and I make no apologies for that belief--could endure what I endure now, and I would not like to have to fight through another single hour to endure it if I don't have to.
But I have put myself outside of the space-time continuum. If someone asks me how old I am, in a real way, I don't know the answer. I don't know what to tell them. What are Colin years? What's Colin time? It's different. In many ways, it's irrelevant, save that there will be a day--and it better be after triple digits--when my body is not here. But when my body is not here, I will still be alive in this world. I will never go anywhere, because my work will never go anywhere. And I am story. I am those stories of those people. I am alive in Amara or Fitty. I am as alive in them--more--than I am in Colin Fleming, body.
I would ask, What is death as death to me, and what is death in life to you?
People never do anything different. Even with things that are so easy to do. "I sit on the couch every damn night and watch football. Well, that's over now. I'm reading these ten books about the French Revolution. I'm learning it."
People who don't exercise never say, "Enough! Each day I will walk three miles. I'll go to the lighthouse and back. I will get a strong black coffee when I am done, because I've read that's good for my heart." That's an hour. Think about that. A single hour. How much would that add to your life? How much would understanding the French Revolution add to your life? The Civil War? Partaking of Beethoven's symphonies? The history of the Negro Leagues? Some classic sci-fi novels? The Frog and Toad books?
You're not dying then. You're not waiting to die. You're not playing out the string. You're not making excuses. You're not doing nothing. You're not passive.
Life just goes past most people. They're passengers in a car, looking out the window. They don't stop to get out. Everything becomes this blur, so that they see very little, save a few fixed points to which they're accustomed. Then what is the point? Of course you want to die. You're bored, you're empty, you have no purpose, each day is the same as the last.
No two seconds of your life should be the same. I learn and experience in the next second what I did not learn or experience in the last. I feel as I did not. I feel it change like that. I feel new flames for my fire.
Life is awful for me right now. There is no one who should wish to die more. Anyone else would not last two days in my world. They'd be dead. They wouldn't last a morning with what is happening and what is being done to this one person. And could you spend your life being all alone? Not even know human touch for the better part of a decade? Being detested because of greatness? Being feared? Envied to the point of hatred? Having an entire industry set against you? Being in that war, with no support? Living in filth and poverty? When everyone who is adding to that situation, trying to keep it going, needing to keep it going so that you don't topple their system, knows exactly what you are. That is the why. That is why it's all happening. You are this amazing thing, this unprecedented thing, and everyone knows it.
People barely get through when they think they didn't get enough likes for their latest pathetic post on Facebook for attention that they closed out with twenty-five different hashmark inanities because there is more substance to the weight of a feather than there is to their entire existence. This? Humans are not meant or made to endure anything like this. But I have become something more than human in my humanness. I am a force unlike anything there has ever been or will ever be. That fire is part of this force, but that fire also has to do with choices, with will, with effort, with resolve. With decision.
Anyone can make a decision. Anyone can put forth effort. Anyone can make better choices. Anyone can exert will. Anyone can behave and conduct themselves with resolve. Anyone can take a bloody walk. Drink three liters of water. Type in "Duke Ellington concert" on YouTube. Stop dumping sugar in their coffee. Stretch.
But no one does. They look around them, and it's always something else. How the world works. The way things are done (publishing loves this, which is one of a seemingly endless list of reason why publishing sucks and there is nothing new worth reading; maybe do something different?). Genetics. Age.
That is bullshit. It's you. People are okay with having it be them. They're okay with the string. The playing out of it. Especially if they are surrounded by other people doing the same thing.
Never underestimate what negative reenforcement means, and now means more than ever in this current version of the world. Tacit, unstated negative reenforcement. Think of how much we despise and fear someone who models something else--that is to say, the truly best qualities. Because of the contrast. That's the antithesis of parallelism, which is wallowing and sinking, the opposite of rising up.
If you are going to live once, if you are here, how the fuck could you not want to rise up constantly? How little respect would you have to have for yourself and your life and life not to want to rise up?
When Dylan Thomas advised his father to rage against the dying of the light, he didn't just mean bodily death, and he wasn't just talking to or about his father. He was talking about this fire. Build your collection of flames. Your conflation. Let it rage. Let it fire you. Fire it. Rip and wring the meaning. Be ravenous for that meaning. Need it. Because you do.
Then go out--and also in--and get it.