Sunday, May 06, 2007

I can read your minds...

...or at least can predict what you'll be thinking if you manage to crawl through the verbiage ahead:

Is he whining again?

Yes, he is.

I learned a lesson yesterday: only happy people should drive long distances alone. I'm not saying that because I managed, by inches, to avoid a six-car accident in downtown L.A. made up primarily of SUVs carrying Cinco de Mayo revelers who may or may not have been hitting the cerveza early and often. Nor am I saying it because there is something disturbing about paying $3.70/gallon for gasoline.

I'm saying it because I had five hours of behind-the-wheel time to think. And my thoughts were not pleasant.

PARENTHETICAL IT-WASN'T-ALL-BAD THOUGHT: I did enjoy meeting up with friends, and talking with one friend I haven't seen in years. It was worth driving 285 miles round-trip. I'm just whining about the time before and after the party....

I seldom go to Bakersfield voluntarily. Beyond Tejon Pass, beyond Weed Patch, Pumpkin Center and Arvin, and on the way to Mettler, Wasco, Shafter and Earlimart, it is simply too close to the desolate edge of the Earth for me. Once over the mountains, one is confronted with endless miles of non-picturesque flatlands, bombarded by chicken feathers from livestock trucks and threatened by rattletrap vans full of "migrant workers...."

I thought about work, about loneliness, about the futility of my current situation. I suppose I'm selfish, but I can't help thinking that my skills, my loyalty and labors should, by now, have brought me some measure of comfort or, at least, more pleasure than I have experienced.

Over five hours, one can replay a lot of incidents and situations, second-guess actions, try to find the points where things went wrong, imagine what one might have done differently, wish that those one dealt with might have been more honest, might have responded to sincerity, love and effort in kind. You see every stupid thing you've done, match them against the consequences. You beat yourself up, even when you shouldn't.

Eventually, on an endless dark stretch of road, it all boiled down to a simple answer: "they" (the personal and professional "theys," almost without exception) did not respond in kind. They saw no need to.

Obviously, there are details I am now, and always will be, leaving out.

In fact, I'm not entirely certain why the hell I'm writing about this.

Here, as I see it, is the moral of the story: If you have love in your life from someone you feel you can trust, if you have any small measure of professional respect shown you (or at least a regular, dependable paycheck), hang on to those things as if they are life preservers.

Because they are. Without them, you are doomed to drown.

Use my experiences, my life, as a warning.

Ignore the self-help gurus and the apologists for individual choice. If you don't have other people to love and trust, if you can't find people with whom you can work in a mutually creative way, you will drown.

And it will be worse if you put yourself in situations where you have too much time think.


joan said...

We're going to have to get you some music to listen to in your car on long trips. You are right though - we should know what is precious and treasure it.

John said...

Life on the dark side is not much fun.

Kelly said...

How is your health? Do you have cancer? Or the dark cloud of a biopsy on the 23rd of May looming over your head like a wet wool blanket - a biopsy that no matter what the outcome has already changed the way you think about life? If you do then, ok, complain away. If not, then at least you have your health.

You can spend the rest of your life whining about what was or what could have been or you can live the 'now' the with as much gusto as you can....and if you don't feel you have any 'gusto' left to give....fake it until you have got it.

Gill said...

I know how tough it can be, but hang on in there, mate.