Friday, December 20, 2002

"So you must not be frightened ... if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall."

(Rainer Maria Rilke - Letters to a Young Poet, Letter 8 - Excerpt)

Found that on someone else's blog, because I needed it.

Here I was, totally rocking in my life, i felt, and all the sudden, it seems that everything has fallen apart. And not even in a bad way. That would be a little easier, in a sense, because that would presuppose that I knew the way things should be.

As it is, things are falling apart in a maybe-good way. Like, illusions I've cherished--helpful, useful illusions--seem to be crumbling. I'm not sure how I am going to get along without my illusions. I mean, I really used my illusions, man. I got a hell of a lot of work done with those tools, rebuilding my identity from a pile of wreckage.

Three or four years ago, I lost myself for a while. It was pretty challenging to rebuild myself as a solid, three-dimensional person when I didn't have any of the usual structures to hang myself upon: I'd just moved back to L.A. and I had no real job, no apartment, not much family around; no responsibilities; not too many close friends around. These are the usual ways that people form their identities (along with stuff like religion/subculture/etc.). I feel as if I rebuilt myself by hand, out of my own flesh, beginning when i got my first shitty studio apartment in the then-unfashionable part of Silverlake, on Sunset and Descanso, facing a brick wall. That apartment was the saddest place I've ever lived but, in a sense, it was also the most nurturing and triumphant, because that apartment is where I began to fight for my life. And no, I didn't have a drug problem. I still don't understand it, but it was a combination of Irish writer's/female depression/unhingedness; too much free time and too much money (my granny died and left me a bunch of cash); a major late-20s identity crisis, and bad, bad love.

My life improved dramatically after I got that pad and the money ran out. Don't let anybody tell you capitalism and work are all bad: They saved my sanity and put me on the path of righteousness.

I have come to rely on work for my shape, like a vine needs a trellis to grow on. I need it.

But at the moment I'm going through some kind of work-crisis, and I'm really scared.

It's like my buddy Jim, who quit his job and moved to Stanford for a year to study Existentialism and write just for himself. And he's got a wife and two kids to think about. I don't know how he always manages to make things look so easy.

Anyway, I guess I've just discovered in the past week or so that I'm not as "together" as I thought I was. I was really beginning to think I was doing it right. Now I feel all these long-dormant urges coming to the surface and they just won't go away. The voices i ignored when survival was my only goal, the voices that said, "I don't want to do this kind of writing, this is bullshit." Or even, "I don't want to write at all." Or, "I want to write in a totally new way I've never seen before, that won't support me at all."

I ignored them but they refused to be ignored and they came out in bad ways. These voices that confused me so much four years ago. I thought I'd tamed them.

Now I'm starting to think that these voices might be just a normal part of life, forever, and not just a sign of crisis. I mean, maybe feeling unsure of one's identity in "the world" is not a crisis-situation, but a circumstance of existence. And maybe I have been mistaken in ever thinking I could build my identity upon my public life. Maybe I

will never achieve an identity as solid as I'd like. Maybe it will only materialize and dissolve endlessly like an electron, based upon the circumstance of any given moment. Maybe I just have to get used to this feeling of continual transformation. Like what Rilke said--you mustn't be afraid if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.

Even writing about it is an attempt to master it, and inherently ineffectual. I have to just kind of live it and maybe remember that this particular life doesn't last forever. Rilke was real big on shit like "living the questions" and not trying to figure it all out. Now i kind of understand where he's coming from. He's saying, you'll understand it better from inside.

The only thing that seems real to me now is love, and I'm not even sure what that is.

Got to go clean the croquet mallets now.



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