I am not the fine man you take me for. No no. I come in April to sell a string of horses and try my luck in the streams. What I got for the stock I lost at the wheel, and the flake I washed up I drank the fuck away. I don’t know as I’ll get home at all. I sold my boots. I owe $9 to a whore.
There is something that troubles me about blogging. What troubles me is that we choose what we post, what we share about ourselves, how we present ourselves to others. I wouldn’t have it any other way; relationships with other people online are ill-defined at best, and as much as I like many of you, you are by and large strangers. You are not entitled of more of me that I choose to give you, which is a two-way street, of course.
Like most of you, I try to be intelligent, thoughtful, and courteous when I post. I hope that I succeed more than I fail. But what I think is that being smart or being nice doesn’t mean that I am good. I don’t know that I’m a good person, and I don’t know that y’all are either.
I’m not the son I’d like to be, not the lover I’d like to be, not the adult I’d like to be. I am not the man I hoped I’d be. I am fortunate to have good and patient family and friends who love me and care for me, but there are wrongs there that I cannot ever undo nor fully be forgiven for.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always empathized a bit too much with the TV. I remember watching The Wonder Years with my family, and when that kid (Fred Savage?) was about to make a fool out of himself, I’d get so uncomfortable I’d have to walk out of the room. Today its easier; with VCRs and DVD players, I can simply pause it until I’m ready to handle it. I do this a lot; watching the last four episodes of Friday Night Lights, I’ve had to pause at least ten times already. It is a bit better if I’ve seen it already, but not entirely. I don’t think I’ve made it yet through an episode of The Wire season two.
I love stories. I love that moment in stories, when even if what is happening couldn’t be further from your life or your experience, you hit that moment of recognition. That moment where you feel what the characters are feeling, where you know it like it was your own. That feeling, I believe, is the moment of being all people, that knowledge that while each of our stories is uniquely our own, what we are part of – the grand tale of human love and desire and hope and fear and loss and friendship and despair – is an interwoven tapestry. That moment allows us to see plainly how insignificant and yet beautiful we are; one solitary note played on but a single instrument of a vast orchestra, yet a part of a grand and tragic and gorgeous symphony.
There is another feeling I feel coming up unbidden and irrepressible when I’m watching the TV. I am afraid of this feeling; so afraid, in fact, that I’ve never admitted it to anyone and can barely imagine saying it here: spite. I feel spiteful to the people who make things I enjoy and admire. I am jealous of their ability to make those stories. I am scared that I lack their talent, and that I cannot do what they do. I am bitter at their success and that I do not share it. I hate this feeling. I despise myself for having it.
Sometimes I think it is just that I am getting old, or even that I am getting successful. When I was young, David Lynch and Tom Fontana and Federico Fellini were heroes and inspirations to me. But now, I consider David Milch and Joss Whedon and David Simon as, well, not competitors exactly. I am not that arrogant. But they seem to me like the mechanical rabbit at a dog track; constantly out of reach, exhausting me and taunting me and filling me with rage that I cannot catch up to them. But in my heart, I don’t think it has anything to do with getting old, or with success. In my heart, I think I’m just afraid. To reach the top of anything, to get the opportunity to truly do what you’ve always hoped to do, you have to be as fast as the rabbit. You have to not only have talent, but the discipline to work your ass off and to give everything to doing the best you can, and the will to catch the fucking rabbit, no matter how out of reach it seems. And no matter how hard you try, you must be willing to do so in spite of the fact that your absolute best might yet fail. And in my heart of hearts, I fear that even my very best will not be good enough, and so I do not try my best, so that I will always have an excuse. If I had just gotten my shit together, gotten disciplined, then I might have succeeded. I think I choose the torture of never knowing and blaming myself, rather than the excruciating yet finite pain that could come with measuring myself against greatness and coming up short. And I think that is why I find myself hating those who did not lack the courage to find out.
I don’t have a clue why I am telling you this. I suppose a big part of it is selfish; if I tell you, I can’t take it back. I can’t keep it secret within myself. Part of it is that I cannot stand the reaction that I get sometimes from things I post, those comments letting me know I am admired somehow, or respected. Part of it is because I cannot stand that part of blogging which is about the best of ourselves, where we can represent ourselves as the persons of moral sentiments simply because we are learned, reasoning people with ideas about how we can make our country and our world a better place. I am just another petty, mean asshole with something to say, coming to you and hoping you listen in spite of all the other bullshit. Knowing that I’ve done a million things too shameful to say, and that I am just as stupid now, but in a different way.