|The Best that I Can Do|
by Julian X  /  fiction  /  2 Nov 2007
If only. Belief in other worlds, sci-fi dimensions of wonder and bearded Spocks, beings of breathing light and thinking sound, of designer afterlives ringing with justice and angels, hells of knives where phantom bodies decay under acid and rape while they gobble up their own feces hungrily, a snake eating itself, uncountable lost pantheons, the river gods alone numbering millions. Conspiracies, whole alternate history timelines with Roswell and J.F.K. assassins, Diana the goddess of hunt slaughtered ritually by royals, reverse-engineered alien technologies turn to stealth fighters, secret societies extending backwards through the centuries, the towers imploded in controlled demolition, no Jews aboard. Ghosts everywhere, possessing us ever so slightly, stirring our moods like coffee, curses, coincidence, synchronicity, unseen winged actors engaged in war backstage. ~20% born twins, our doubles reabsorbed back into the womb. Vanishing lakes, miracles, lo! After his death, an unknown bird appeared where birds do not, so much the world un: everything happens for a reason, God works in mysterious ways. Terrible patterns, too large for the mind to take in, grasped only in parts, like the elephant, crushing in belief, hope that there is more at work than what we see, than what we feel, than all of this.
But this is just where the mind goes in the quotidian doldrums: each of these are books, series, full worlds, intricate religions. This is only detritus, distraction, entertainment, the blah blah blah of compensation and daydream. Not:
Soul mates. The “you’re the only one for me” and “you make all my dreams come true” and “I know you’re the one” and the “you complete me.” Swirling violins and fireworks lighting the sky with rightness. The god-certainty of love, static and forever, as eternal as the sea against the rocks, beating. Never wanting another, mutual mutality. Love, at center stage, lights on full all the time. This, we absorb, is not of the same kind as U.F.O.s and the heavens opening above us: this, we learn by rote, is a must.
Yet none. No one. Sure, some affections, parental love and fraternal love, expressed, avowed in bullshit words. Sure, some love on a girl’s face, but always followed by fight, vengeance, wounds, invalidation. No warming love that calms, endures, stays. Stay. No companion to understand, only companions driven by biochemicals and transparent desperation, chocolate. Chest on your chest, hot and beating, no words needed, no words.
Give up. Admit it’s not going to happen. You’re unlovable. Disgusting. Look at yourself in the mirror, those blemishes. Stare at how you want this ferocious, undying love but have only petty wants as basis for your own – as if anyone else could be better, as if this industry standard could be met. As if. You know it’s unreasonable but can’t stop this need. Can’t fill this void. Can’t. Incapable. Break.
We laugh as cover. Forget to live. Smile at little things. Just to go on with this ache inside us we can’t even get at to fill. Fuck that. Fuck a life of recompense, of lies just to get by, to keep the family together, to not hate each other and ourselves: the lie of “how you doing?” – as if all this inexpressible anxiety should really pour out. The lie of growing up, as if adulthood were anything but sublimation, a piling of layers upon the desperation and pain, a thickening of scabs mistook for ourselves.
Not for me. Not this life. How much of our time do we spend on things we don’t want to do? So, what, live? So hard when you know.
Going through the motions your whole life because you can’t pull the trigger. Because you know full well that you’re free to do so, damn everyone else, but that your biology will prevent it, or your programming against it, even if all you’re doing is being a smart enough computer to turn itself off when it knows its programming is haywire. You hate yourself, not least for being unable to end it, for knowing it was right but lacking the strength. No one will ever love you, ever known anyone else. Put the gun down and find some consolation prize, find some secondary strength to live by, some way to fake it for yourself.
A bird upon the windowpane, crashing, the thud alerting you and wounding its poor wing. A bird in the street, poking his mate, crushed under some passing wheel, poking and chirping that strange sad chirp of an animal crushed by sadness you know no less deep than yours, and they only live a few years anyway. A bird caught in the house’s vent, pounding futilely while you try to sleep, night after night, its mate chirping at the closed entrance, day after day, you imagine trying to chirp loud enough to echo down, trying to pass food through the stupid human metal, night after night, not giving up, and its dying hunger, night after night, keeping up the sleeping children encountering death.
Go on, go on. Once more into the breech. Call to sacrifice. Live for children. Live to build in a manifestly meaningless world. Follow your programming. Find the best that you can do, take your comfort there, ejaculate, feel your future kicking, under the skin, make some desperate meaning, collect lovers because you can’t collect love and it breaks your heart like porcelain, erect some reputation and some monuments, leave something behind, find your saint, pile up the days, learn to die well like Socrates taught, and leave your nights for all your secret doubts, with the wife you know you’ll fall out of love with, for your mistress, for the convoluted guilty pleasures of unthinking passive watching of movies that can show you better worlds, when the music swells and it seems to matter, and you cry for the beauty of it, this magic trick, this slight of hand, and by this way forget that we have no answers to tell our children and they are right to kill us. Pretend that it’s worth doing, that it’s not a sandcastle in the tide. Laugh in the face of death surrounding, soldier.
Do your best, knowing we are children playing in business suits, at keeping house with dolls. Do your best to know that we are children playing childish games: hearts and logs, notes to boys and girls and building tools, birds’ nests perched so precariously upon the branch. Do your best to calm down: it’s just your life, your loneliness, your awareness of not getting better, all diseases fatal, and dance until dismemberment.
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