“It really sickens me that you can’t take this life straight,” she said.
Her eyes were afire with a pink halo of hatred that smote her compassion. She reached for her coat and wrenched the cheap motel room door open. It made a small dull thud as it hit the brittle plaster wall. (I hoped my deposit would cover the damage.)
She was one surreal moment’s breath away from leaving me there for good.
“You’re a lonely old man because you’re a selfish old *******,” she said.
She disappeared down the walkway like some direful wraith caught in the night wind. The curt sound of her red highheeled shoes clicking the worn concrete. The inexplicable proof of her existence ferried away in a sea of incandescent tail lights that shown from the highway.
Maybe she was right. Maybe I can’t take this life straight and never hope to. And, maybe I am selfish. But, I’m only selfish because I’m so **** lonely all the time. That’s the ***** of it. Life is a never-ending toilet bowl flush of selfishness, drunkenness, *****, and utter loneliness.
It took me too many years to figure out that the problem wasn’t her, or even with other people for that matter, it was with me.
It’s only when we figure ourselves out that we realize that we’ve been doing a lot of things wrong with our lives. Listening to the wrong voices in our heads. Taking the wrong advice from strangers. Avoiding the admonitions of those who really love you. These things happen all the time. None of us has the answers. I don’t know anything.
In fact, after all the years I spent searching for meaning in academia perusing dusty libraries and old bookstores for that gem of knowledge, I can tell you definitively that only ignorance is bliss. That it’s even true when it comes to dating. The less you think you know the better you are.
I guess this is where the train stops for me. Time to get off. Try something else. Take to the woods and grow a manly neck-beard like Thoreau did in Walden. Adhere to the early American philosophy of rugged individualism and all that. Too soon would I realize that life isn’t about solitude, or a separation from others; rather it’s about the connections we make. Solid connections.
The hedonistic Epicurus tells us to live a life of pleasure through the temperance of desire, and warns us not to seek what is inappropriate for us mortals, but to enjoy our mortal needs.
I do not know if Epicurus ever found a mate, a friendship, or even a partner to share his most intimate thoughts with besides his raucous audience, but I do know he died in isolation away from society. I’ve never been a hedonist. I’m far too traditional for all that.
My sordid love life is more akin to Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the tragic story of Echo and Narcissus.
I’ve been Narcissus for too many years to count and what’s worse I was in oblivion. For too long have I been unto myself. Admiring only myself. The time has come to choose. Either die like Narcissus or live and love with Écho.
I’d like to walk in the sunlight, drink from the cool springs, and with a Shakespearian passion bask in it’s eternal glow and live inside the warm, but ever ethereal, love of another’s heart.
To love another with such Shakespearian passion would lead me to realize that the only thing my love can save is myself. And, all the time this duality would haunt me—to unequivocally know that without the tenderness of Echo in one’s life there is only the vain Narcissus.
For now you know the duality, that is also the tragedy, of this man. Let that echo in your ears and see if it does not ring with the truth of all men.