Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

When the world is about to end, you take up taekwondo.  §

Yesterday I rushed the kids into, then out of, a restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City for lunch. Before that, I rushed them into, then out of Liberty Park. After the restaurant, we hit I-15 and I rushed them back to Orem for M’s sparring class. We were late. I told them it was my fault. It was. I can’t seem to catch up, even though there isn’t much to catch up to.

I am running behind. I have been running behind for at least two weeks because someone has modified what “day” means recently, and they are all now too short.

Time has been moving ridiculously quickly. I even took the week off thinking that doing so would give me more of it. It didn’t. I have had no time all week. The powers that be have taken time from me. Nothing that I need to get done is getting done, and I don’t theoretically even have all that much to do.

— § —

For at least ten days now, every night around the time when I start to press the kids to go to bed, I have been itching in every finger to write something here.

Every night I have fallen asleep as I read bedtime stories, etc. Every night when I have awakened at 2:00 am, as I invariably do, I have opened an editor window and stared at it in silence, not knowing what it was that I wanted to write.

Everything that a few hours before had been explosively trying to escape me was now missing.

In the middle of the day, there are a million things and no time. In the middle of the night, there is time, but without a single clear thing.

As always, I have gone back to bed around 4:00 am—recently, feeling bewildered each time.

— § —

Not for the first time recently, I woke up this morning feeling deeply apocalyptic. Almost in a panic. It is not a nice feeling.

It settles down a bit over the course of the morning, but on days when the apocalypse rises with the sun, it doesn’t ever quite go away, and I have to watch myself throughout the day.

Taken by someone with small hands.

Having a meta outlook on the world is not always a good thing, but when you’re feeling apocalyptic it’s probably the only thing separating you from self-imposed catastrophe of one kind or another.

— § —

I recently started training in taekwondo. I have gone to two classes at this point. I think it’s already the highlight of my week, if for no other reason than that it’s something different.

A good something different.

It has been a very long time since there was something different in my life, and the “something differents” that I last recall were not good ones. You might even say that they were awful.

There are a few other “something differents” now coming down the line over the next few weeks and months after several years of utter stasis, and they are also hard to face.

One good something different is something to cling to. Hi-ya.

— § —

My theory is increasingly that time speeds up precisely when you don’t decisively know what to do with it. It falls through your grasp like so much sand, lost forever. When you’re unfocused and unsure, there is nothing to really mark the hours other than the always inevitably approaching ends of transcendental things:

  • Summer vacation with your kids

  • Your current employment and living arrangements

  • The childhoods of your children

  • Your working years

  • Your parents’ lives

  • Your own life

When you don’t have any purpose for “today,” every life-event “someday” is drawn into relief. Today disappears in a flash of abstraction. What’s left are the bare facts of life.

You can’t subsist in modernity on the bare facts of life, because we’ve removed all of the tolerable, everyday ones. “Feed yourself,” which used to be a daily task to focus on, has instead been concentrated into a periodic mega-event that is a kind of threat—you only think about it and have to work at it in the catastrophic and unusual event that you can’t actually do it.

Such is the case with everything. The removal of all of life’s little problems, with which we have been so concerned since the Enlightenment, also erases most of the time that is life’s substance, unless you are able to find other little problems to make your own.

If you can’t, then all of the moments—hours, days, weeks, months, years, whatever—between now and then next problem—which of course is now invariably a large one, all the little ones having been ameliorated—simply disappear.

— § —

The British once tended to do deeply philosophical light television. We’ve done it a couple of times ourselves. Right now I am reminded of three programs:

  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

  • Good Neighbours

  • Northern Exposure

Somewhere in the moral universe where these three programs touch is where I am living right now.

I hope to leave these environs behind, at length, because apocalyptic is, in the final calculation, just not all that nice.

— § —

Time is a lot of things:

  • Money

  • Life

  • Freedom

  • Memory

  • Experience

  • Work

And time… is always running out.

Find something to keep you grounded, they say. That’s good advice.

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