Tag Archives: Identity

Palingenesis

 

Stepping off the curb to cross the street, his foot lands on a piece of cardboard, and it slips under his feet. Everything goes off-center. He is falling backwards.

He slips into a familiar, momentary lapse of time. Weightless. Maybe like being in the womb. Maybe like death. 

He remembers, in that one second, being someone else, a tiny child, whom his parents would toss in the air, eliciting delighted giggles. He feels again what it was to be a grinning kid who went sledding, who rode amusement park rides, who loved the loose sensation of roller skates under his feet, the dizzying slide of tennis shoes on a frozen pond, closing his eyes and jumping off the swing at its apogee, leaping from the monkey bars. As he got older, he needed to make bigger jumps: from the second story window of his bedroom, the stomach-dropping fall from the front car of a roller coaster, perilous speeding car rides down mountain back roads.

He used to seek that. The sensation of being stunned. The joy of getting turned up-side-down. Thrilling in the unexpected. Always finding a bigger risk. 

Gravity returns with a vengeance. It knocks him flat, kicks the breath out of him. 

He can’t breathe. There is something wrong with his tailbone. His toes tingle. This is the kind of fall that will leave traces for the rest of his life. Drawing lines of pain through his bones, down his nerves, trailing in his new limp, slowing him down. His routine will change. His shoes will change. The content of his conversation will change.

A college kid hunkers down beside him, concerned. “Are you OK?” She says. 

He sees himself reflected in her eyes, distinguished gentleman with graying temples, ass over teakettle in the gutter, and finds his breath, taking in a great gasp of air.

He can’t answer her for his own wheezing laugh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Nothing Without You

 

Please don’t leave me.

I need you

To be myself.

I can’t take life without you.

I don’t know what I would do.

I will change.

Whatever I have done wrong, I can change it.

I’ll do the dishes more.

I’ll work out.

I’ll get a better job.

Don’t leave me.

You like that guy better?

I can be that guy.

Whatever he has that I don’t have,

Just let me know what it is,

And I’ll have it too.

Yes, people can change.

I am a blank, empty shell.

Please

Fill me with whatever you need.

I don’t know what I am without you.

I’ll be whoever you need.

How can you turn an offer like this down?

Don’t you want to be worshipped?

Don’t you want a slave?

Isn’t this

The ultimate love?

How can I give you

A fulfilling relationship?

Please

One more chance.

I’ll try harder

To be better.

A new man.

A different man.

Let me try again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

On Immortality

Who do you think you are?

There is no immortality.

Immortality is impossible.

Everything dies.

Writers who claim to immortality by their body of work?

Two generations tops.

But what if you’re a great writer?

Your work could last hundreds of years.

If you are truly great, a thousand years.

The culling process of time is cruel and relentless.

What about Plato, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching?

They have lasted millennia.

But nothing can be saved forever.

One day the library will burn.

There were great works, immortal works, before these were written.

Mankind has long existed

And long has it thought

And of these thoughts

We know nothing.

They are dead.

But

The ideas renew in us.

Stories are reinvented, retold

Concepts are worked out anew

The same mistakes get made

Over

And over

It is a parent’s pain

To watch a child stumble through life

It is our pain

That each generation must live a war

It is a country’s pain

To bloat, to weaken, to topple

It is a people’s pain

To forget.

In the end the sun will burn us out.

After that the universe will collapse.

And some say

A new universe will be born

And the same mistakes made over again.

 

We will all be forgotten.

We all only have one life.

We can’t even impress who we really are

On our closest friends.

An identity is transient

It changes with each emotion.

How then can a life be remembered?

How can a great work of art

No matter how perfect

No matter how true

No matter how it affects the people

Each person will read into it

What matches their feelings at the time.

One may read the same book

Two, three different times

And feel something different each time.

Nobody knows exactly what you felt when you wrote it.

No one can ever know.

You don’t even know.

Every new thought, your old thought dies.

Every new cell, your old cells die.

You want immortality?

You with the ever changeable identity

Which you deem so important?

You, who are already dead?