Sunday, July 30, 2017

9790. RUDIMENTS, PT. 29

(Making Cars)
One of those ancient guys, I forget
who, wrote, 'Live your life as if you
were already dead.' I always lived
mine, in that light, full-tilt boogie
anyway, or as much as I could do 
that with very little money. I really
forget who it was  -  Marcus Aurelius,
in his 'Meditations', or maybe in a book
by Boethius entitled 'the Consolations of
Philosophy.' I used to read that stuff, but,
frankly, back then it made very little
import or sense to me, more just like
drudgery. Round-about 2007, when I
began taking the train each day to 
Princeton, I began re-reading a lot of
that material from years before. It made
better sense, but the problem was the way
some train-madman or another was always
intent on interrupting me. Passengers, or
even conductors. Especially the little, extra
Princeton-shuttle train I had to take to get over
to campus  -  that had a conductor who really
liked to yap. Ideally, in one's head, you think,
'Ah, train time! I'll be able to read and get a
lot done.' No so fast, fellow. You see the same 
people each day, mostly in a commuting
misery, and they each begin thinking they're
your best friend. Or should be. There's always
an obstacle. I asked someone once, at a
gathering (he took a different NY train each
day) how he got around that problem, and he 
said 'just keep your head down, do what you're
doing, and don't look up or make eye contact
with anyone.' Hmmm, yeah, right.
So, it's all summed up in 'Living life as if you
were already dead?' That shit's considered 
profound? What's it even mean? Everyone I ever
saw, poor, rich, or in-between, was always
intent on going on, continuing. Had I said, 'live
your life as if you were already dead,' they'd 
have hit me with the nearest bowling ball. It's
more the sort of thing you have no real choice over
and are usually glad for the chance of. Living, I
mean. It's always, seemingly, these deep, weird,
religious guys, Buddhist monk types or whatever,
who get all over the top morose about inaction, 
stillness, being centered, meditation, right thinking, 
good intent, goal-completion, detachment, and all 
the rest. I could never isolate like that, and I admit 
to it. I'm not about to fake my way along by saying 
I achieved some sort of wonderful eastern mysticism 
deep within my non-being by doing and saying all 
those proper things. Hell. no. Like a typical jerk 
human, when I saw something, I reacted; or wanted 
it; or found myself (oh no!) desiring. Why would 
anyone, I used to think, deny the human factor in 
the stuff that they do. It was a young-man's quandary 
for me, for a long time; and the streets of NY City 
anyway were not really any place to try and be 'pure.'
In your own head, that's a different story, and maybe
that's what the saying meant, but that's just as
difficult  -  every other street-corner back then
there was someone or something demanding 
hands-on interaction : someone dying, or throwing 
up or passing out; some bum pulling his pants
down and taking a dump; some drug-addicted
nothing nearly comatose and strung-out to die.
That stuff brings you right back to reality, quickly.
There used to be a place up by Riverside Drive, 
or at Riverside Drive, way west, about 72nd street. 
It was, and still is, an interesting series of passages 
and archways and tunnels where the end of Riverside 
Park sort of dips down on itself to get over to Riverside 
Drive, and then the river. Cars are zooming all by 
on the Drive, and these arches and things take you 
beneath it all, and there are a few exit-type ramps
for cars seeking to enter the larger city at the east.
All through the 1970's and into the 80's, it was its
own mini-Calcutta, this place. Lots of homeless
people who'd made their own little spaces and living
quarters, one after another after another  -  cardboard,
wood, planks, carts, fabric, tents, you  name it. It
was a veritable 'city' of the disenfranchised; it
mostly went unmolested and no one interfered with
it, including cops and round-ups. Any real 'crime'
there was when one or another of them killed or
maimed each other  -  stupid drug feuds, thievery,
whatever. Talk about living as if you were already
dead, I knew these people could fill in a lot of the
blanks about that subject. I would occasionally
find myself there (I had friends who lived then
in the west 70's), walking amidst these people;
they were surly, or drugged, violent sometimes
in severe and weird personal ways, but none of it
really had the 'energy' factor to take it outwards,
to others. I was probably as safe as I was in danger.
All the same. (How's that go, 'when you got nothing,
you got nothing to lose? Or, Freedom's just another
way for nothing left to lose.'  -  I always hated those
stupid, proto-musical, playing at intensity, couplets).
Anybody who got me, so to speak, would just get a
dead body, so I was probably, in those terms, perfect.
As were they  -  wiry, dazed, unfocused humanoids,
(each giving Darwin, surely, a run for his money).
Let the dead bury the dead? Yeah man, we were
all ready for our own shovels each.

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