I have laughed with the mind, sometimes hard
and with ugly dismissal, how its last conclusions rot out
initial bases or tight lock up the mind
in a cage it cannot escape from and is held there.
But I accede; knowledge is what I am freed
from, as once I was freed from power, not
having any. Knowledge and power are what
we want until we find, at last, they are not.
There is a state outside of me, too, without
these things. Reality? The God? I apply
to it. It has my reverence and awe, my love.
I am content there where I wanted once.
I had some ideas about how it would be, and they were mostly wrong. My net worth is still deep in the red (a lovely shade of debtor’s crimson), and instead of a career, in a couple years I’m going to get a colorful hood and a lottery ticket for a career, and then I’ll probably have to start over. But I have a few good pages tucked under my vest, and I’ve read more wonderful books than I can count; this was what I wanted, better than I thought it would be, and I’d do it again, especially if I could have known that J. was on her way.
My twentieth birthday I spent in the car, by choicefor reasons now hard to remember, I wanted to be alone. I got myself up at six in the morning and found some flowers left for me by someone who was at least half in love with me, and whom I was too unhappy and bound-up to treat with anything like fairness. I was in love too, impossibly, with someone who had been on a different continent all year; so I got in my car and drove down the really dull part of I-5 and the really sunblasted part of I-10, smoking the Camel Reds which seemed that year to confirm my membership in some group. The stretch between Indio and Phoenix is one long glare during the day, and I thought I was approaching the real condition of things.
I made a notebook entry on my twenty-first birthday: “It’s not about resisting, it’s about resenting. Line up everything that has ever hurt you, and lower your slow sad reptile eyes, and glare at them with gentle pain. Happy birthday.” There’s the overreliance on adjectives I got from reading Ulysses all the time, and then the idea that the world owed me something which I wasn’t getting, to which the only appropriate response was a self-pitying passive resistance. I really did think I was cursed by God. I had no idea it could lift if you waited.
When I walk around these days, most of the time I feel a patch of real ground under me. It wasn’t always so.