It’s not so bad living alone.
There’s this cultural myth that it’s somehow sad or regrettable or lonely, but I find it to be suffused with a kind of optimism and openness that I’ve never experienced when living with others.
— § —
It is said that you can’t really live alone and retain your humanity; that it’s necessary to go out into the world and have “messy” interactions with other humans. Reinforcing ties, constituting norms, freshening experience and cultural literacy, finding yourself challenged by the initiative of other agents, and so on.
Problem is, I’ve never met many humans. Maybe ten in my life? I’m still in touch with most of them.
Our streets seem to be walked primarily by caricatures. They’ve stopped passing out souls in heaven, it would generally seem.
— § —
A calendar is a magical kind of thing. It captures time and structures it with a kind of repetitive beauty, in the same way that watch hands do. One thing I think that I will do when I get my next place (a nice, vintage house, hopefully) is paper one wall entirely with annual calendars (no, not flip calendars and those tiresome postcard images, annual calendars—that show a whole year on one page) stretching from my birth year, 1976, to the present. I should be able to fit my entire lifetime on one wall, just like that.
A life on one wall. That’s the magic I’m talking about.
Someone here begins to go on about how it doesn’t really capture “life” and all of that new age bullshit that comes across the television thing and now the intertubes as well, but as I say, that’s bullshit. They’re all the same, all those days. They disappear into one another. There’s yesterday, there’s today, and there’s tomorrow, and there’s nothing else. Every “worst day I’ve ever had” that anyone talks about is barely memorable six months on; they can’t tell you anything about it other than some abstract notion of “what happened” that is more denotative than it is descriptive.
People are in the business of sentimentalizing their lives so that they don’t have to regret the present and their choices in it. In fact, there is only the present. That’s your life, and mine—a wall of numbers, a well-bounded series of little calendar numbers. A day, a day, a day, a day, a day…
And in fact, that’s the beauty of it. Not the sentimental nonsense, which is all rather pedestrian, but the steely regularity of it, the gorgeous, brutal consistency of time, which stands apart, untarnished by everything else, pure.
— § —
On the notion of “regrets”—I can’t say for sure how many times I’ve been told by a caricature that “I have no regrets in my life! I don’t believe in regrets!” I don’t know how many times, but I do know that it’s a lot. This line is being churned out in vast quantities in a Chinese factory somewhere in Shenzen, and everyone is buying it.
I’ll tell you what it is, it’s stupid.
(1) Anyone who says this is lying.
(2) Anyone who truly has no regrets has never cared in their life about anyone else—they are so atomically self-absorbed as to be nearly invisible without special equipment.
Me, I have tons of regrets, and I love them. I love how they are invisibly embedded into the calendars that are my years, a whole big long string of them that are my self and my history and my living.
I love being alive. That’s why I bother to have regrets. Seriously.