This thing keeps happening to me. Maybe once or twice a week.
I’m plodding along, doing the things of everyday life—often walking through the house for one reason or another—and I am suddenly overcome by sadness.
Not resentment masquerading as sadness, not anger, not fear, not regret, not a million other things that often get mistaken for sadness. No, this is sadness. Pure, unadulterated sadness.
Not just a little bit of it. An impossible ocean of sadness, a catastrophic tidal flood of sadness that leaves me struggling to stand. Sadness at family and career and friends and goals and time, the inevitable passage of time. In that moment, it is as though I am taking my last breath, seeing my last moment of light, feeling the deep loss of my own eventual death and confronting the realization that from that point forward I will never be able to make anything better for anyone, ever again.
And then, a moment later, it’s gone. Just like that. A few seconds off the clock. Another four or five steps. Not a even a minute in duration.
But the memory of the sadness remains.
What does it mean?
— § —
There’s something beautiful about a wristwatch. Any kind of wristwatch, but especially the many varieties of “perpetual” ones—the mechanical automatics, the Eco-Drives, the solars, and the kinetics. A watch is a tiny little package of miraculously ingenious and precise technology, created precisely to celebrate the miraculously ingenious and precise social technology of time. A watch carries with it a small pocket of time all its own, just as does its wearer.
And, most importantly of all, there is the knowledge that this little thing, and every other one like it, unlike an iPhone or a blender or a Mercedes, will have a unique history that may stretch out as long as does a human life. It will see triumphant events, desperate failures, and quotidian stretches of boredom; it may become battle-scarred, may meet and then leave multiple people, yet it will retain its own little essence throughout, both rigid and somehow also yielding in its concession to marks and scratches and dents, each set unique, until the day that it finally gives up the ghost or is forgotten, never to mark time again.
Wristwatches are like little people with little lives of their own. I swear, they speak to me. They feel like my friends.
— § —
Perfection itself is imperfection, equally anomalous and unexpected.
That is the dark secret of the universe. Everyone longs for perfection, but the nature of being is such that it has been defined out of existence.
Certainly our cognitive schema are incapable of perceiving or valorizing it. This is why human beings invariably attack and destroy everything that approaches perfection in their lives; because anything approaching perfection is the most irritatingly conspicuous anomaly of all.
— § —
Sometimes people tell me I should be more funny here, that I have a great sense of humor that never comes through in my writing.
The thing is that my sense of humor, if that’s what it is, is immediately social. It requires the presence of others. It’s just a kind of delight, not really anything to do with wit.
When I laugh out loud at and banter with my wife or my daughter, it’s because I’m in the process of falling in love with them all over again. When I do the same with my son, it’s because deep in my soul I am feeling that he is a fine fellow, and I am effervescent just at having the privilege of knowing him.
Yes, I realize that the parallel accounts that I just gave are sexist, and if there were someone here with me, I might break wide open smiling, laughing, and talking about the fact that we’ve just shared a “sexist” moment in which we both, in fact, found it amusing that such a thing as simple, irrepressible happiness of the sort that leads to uncontrollable, delighted laugher is inherently sexist in some eyes, precisely what the Best Souls Amongst Us often so seriously wish to repress beneath stern and furrowed brow all in the interest, supposedly, of the general happiness.
When I’m alone, I’m often just as content as when I’m with other people. But it’s true that I don’t generally laugh on my own, nor do I do things on my own that are laugh-worthy. Humor, to me, is a way of reveling in the value of others’ lives.
When others aren’t there, I tend to be carried away on other, more inwardly-directed currents.
— § —
I will be forty years old in a matter of days. I can still remember turning eight. And five. And, vaguely, three.
This is what death feels like—a lot of hazy memories run together inadvertently yet somehow also unavoidably, in order to mark a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
— § —
Don’t think I’m morbid or maudlin. I’m wearing a Seiko, laying on the carpet next to a large dog, and I had ice cream earlier.
These are the things of comfort and triumph; the are the opposite of flies and border checkpoints.
Good thing, too.