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Thursday
May102012

The Ghost Town King

Sometimes I forget what the sun looks like. Still cottony orange? I forget because I stop looking. I stop seeing. But it's not just the sun that I neglect to gaze upon. It's trees too, and faces, people. Those things are well beyond my walls and territory. And I rarely get that far. No, the farthest I’ll often let my eyes travel is to the end of me. My own border. My personal dam.
Every day I’m writing. I’m thinking and wrestling, doing the whole introspective thing, hoping to create something compelling or interesting, magical even, something that will rattle someone else awake, something that will rattle me awake. So I pour and pour over my experiences and thoughts and emotions, processing the books I’m reading and the movies I’m seeing and the music that I’m listening to. And then I pour some more. I do a cannonball into my own imagination, sinking deeper and deeper into the reefs and caves where ideas hide. I digest conversations, phrases, the stories people share, the manner in which those stories are shared, and ask myself questions in order to understand just a bit more of this thing called humanity, art, love, pain. And when I'm not sledding down that creative hill, I’m trying to figure out where my life is headed, and how I’m supposed to get there, and who I need to enlist for help and miracles along the way. I put my head down. I plug in my headphones. I turn up the music. Oh sure, mouths are moving, but I don't hear a word. I'm too busy asking myself what I like, don’t like, what I want to do, don’t want to do, and working out how to communicate that in such a precise and elegant way that I get exactly what I want, what I need.
Every now and again though, something/one interrupts this sacred temple space of my mind by asking me a question, sharing a need, a frustration, a joy. They approach. They climb the wall. Then they invade. They break in and shatter the stain-glass conversations I'm having in my head. They crash the party. Desecrate the mood. Irreverent bandits. Static. Marauders. Illegal immigrants. Interruption. Ransacked. That's what it feels like. I get so caught up in the taffy of me, in all my things, what I’m doing, and how vitally important and essential it is--it is, right?--that life outside of me begins to feel toxic to my environment, as if the perfect balance I've established will be compromised or infected by the entry of another. Virus. And I convince myself of that. So convincing. I'm a con-man. And I con myself every day. Believing that I must preserve my own domain, I don’t ever drop it for long enough to see something else, someone else. I get trapped in me, ruling a one man country, governing an abandoned city.

The Ghost Town King.
What color is the sun this week? Are the flowers in bloom yet? What’s going on with my friend? Is his divorce final? How does my wife feel? Why is my sister stressed? When's the last time I was more passionate about someone else's art than my own, someone else's needs than my own, someone else? And when is the last time I thought about any of that, dwelled on that, swam a hundred laps in the water of someone else's heart? I cut ties to everything outside of me, and then I wonder why I sometimes feel so alone. I grow impatient, irritable with anyone who barges into me, my world, and then I wonder why they don’t want to make it their home. I wonder why creativity feels like such a curse. Selfish man: I forget that life outside of me exists. Or maybe I forget that life only exists outside of me, and that self-absorption is the most common cause of death.