On Boxes

I'm sitting amidst boxes, and newspaper, and books. Mostly, I'm sitting amidst a lot of stuff piled up around me that I have yet to determine the sentimental value of, in terms of what I will keep and what I will not. I've been here before. I guess each time it feels the same, yet also different. It's so weird to pick up something and hold it in my hand and decide once again to keep it. A whole series of little moments like that will determine what stuff I will still have when I'm ninety and wrinkled and living in some old house somewhere, if I make it that far. And it's a whole series of little moments like that which will determine what memories I will retain, to some extent; since so many memories are triggered by a glance at a letter, or a sideways look at an old knick-knack, or a book, or a photograph. I would like to get rid of all of this, but only if it means placing it in the hand of a dear friend and closing their hand over it and putting my hand on theirs to make sure that they have it firmly clasped in their own. I can't do that, as friends are not storage spaces and they should not be treated as such. Instead, I will send a lot of this stuff out into the ether. It's weird how many things we manage acquire and then shed during our lives, and it's weird how much of it will still exist after we die. Unlike other animals, we don't manage to shed a big chunk of our skin in one long sheath, but we manage to make the things and people around us our protective layer, and we shed some of it as we go, but hold onto what matters. The older I get, the more I realize that the things that matter the most are few, but worth holding on to; and I realize that I only need so very few things to carry on.

We do so much in our lives to try to make ourselves live longer and to try to remind others of ourselves after we're gone, yet some little piece of wood that does nothing and says nothing manages to outlive us every time. Maybe that's why we cut down trees: We have an innate inability to bear the simple fact that these beautiful entities are going to keep living and growing longer than we can or will, unless we do something about it. This thought makes me sad; and yet it reminds me that I can't wait to be living in the trees again. It's comforting to be surrounded by things that have been around since before I was born and are going to still be around even after I am gone. If there's anything heartbreaking about moving, it's the thought that I might not be able to show people that I care as well as I would like to when I am not around to see them and let them know; but that's where trust comes in. No one wants to hear me tell them all the time that I'm glad they exists, and one of my faults it that I have a gross habit of doing this. People want, I think, to just have it be understood that their presence is meaningful in another person's life. I think I only say it so much because the more I care, the more I fear. Perhaps growing older is about learning to detach oneself not only from what matters the least, but more importantly from what matters the most. Strangely enough, it seems sometimes that the most guaranteed way of holding on to something is also the most intangible. A loose grip is a strong grip, especially when it comes to people. It will be nice to have a lot of space around me in which to loosely hold onto things and in which to learn how to hold on to very little. There's a lot of fullness in that empty space, and a lot of this fullness seems to be comprised of thoughts and dreams and songs and love and art.

Sitting amidst boxes, strangely enough, it is my future that flashes before my eyes more than my past. I've had moves in which the memories flooded over me and overwhelmed me to tears, but this time there's a feeling of acceptance that rushes over me. None of what awaits me beyond this point is yet determined, and somehow this is comforting where it should be terrifying. There's a point where it means being more at peace with oneself to just toss the dice. I feel more comfortable in my own skin when I let myself exist outside of what I know and what I love, in a place where I know very little and can expect nothing. I trust the people in my life enough to know that although I may see them rarely, I will still see them. Some may slip through the cracks, but they'll still manage to have changed my life forever, dramatically or subtly.

I don't know where I will land, but eventually I will land somewhere, and it will be home.

On Packing

Each of these objects that I pack into boxes is not an object at all, but a thousand tiny little memories wrapped up together; some of them bigger than others. Some of the smallest objects have the most memories associated with them. Some of the largest have very few. All of these things, all this crap; it's just stuff. It's stuff that I love, but it's still just stuff. It's the people in my life, not this stuff, that I really wish I put into boxes and take with me. But I hate to see the people that I love stuffed into boxes.

One of the hardest things to throw away today was a tiny, plastic, parachuting man that I bought once, using prize-tickets won in a game of skee-ball with a really dear friend. I threw it away because I recognized that it in itself had little significance to me, and I recognized that the memories existed there even in its absence. I'm going to a place where I hardly know anyone. I look forward to feeling small and I look forward to being surrounded by strangers. I look forward to trusting only those who earn my trust and I look forward to spending a lot of time alone. I look forward to filling that space with thoughts and adventures and new things that I might make. I look forward to reading new books and shaking new hands. There are plenty of other piece-of-crap just-object objects for me to fill with memories, and I have plenty of time left in my life in which to do this.

Packing this stuff, this stuff that I suppose I do love, I realize how easy it would be for me to just get rid of it all. The more I pack, the more I realize that none of this constitutes who I am or what my life is. None of it gives me the sense of my life itself. The real grit and the backbone of what matters is totally invisible. It's the memories, and it's the people. When it comes to moving these objects, it could be simple. I could store these items, and wait long enough to forget what I had stored, and then stop paying for the storage unit and let the storage company people just get rid of it all for me. I've heard of people doing that, as a way of being more cutthroat about what they are willing to get rid of. It seems instead to me that they are paying the storage sheds, and paying time itself, to make them forget what it is that they are supposed to not be cutthroat about. I guess this makes sense. I'm not going to do it, and it wouldn't be my style really, anyway; but I could. It's far more plausible that I'd just decide to put everything in a huge dumpster and then walk away from it, with a great sense of loss accompanied by a feeling of victory. The thing is, I can't forget anyone who mattered to me, and no one's going to come along and get rid of them if I try to forget them for a long enough period of time. I don't want anybody to come along and get rid of them. I want to sit on porches with them and drink whiskey and lie in fields, staring at the sun. All of them.

It's strange: I'm bringing with me all the things that I could see myself so easily getting rid of; and I'm leaving behind all the things that, try as I might, I don't think I could ever truly walk away from. Perhaps this is a good exercise in independence; or perhaps it's a realization that I've put myself in storage for too long. Whatever it is, I'm not convinced that what I'm actually throwing away amounts in any way to a little plastic parachuting man, and I'm not convinced that what I'm planning to take with me is really stuff at all. I'm taking with me a million moments and laughs and pangs of sadness and every other emotion I've felt over the years. I'm taking this with me, and it's all at once lighter than air and heavier than lead. Maybe this is what Kundera was talking about, but in the context of a shift in geographical location.

I've got so many amazing people in my life, and I've loved fiercely until it hurt. But this time, I'm going to find myself a home. I'm going to fill my rooms with all the memories that I have, and I'm going to cover the walls with all of your faces, because that's just how it has to be. Maybe I should call off the moving truck and just consider myself smashed under the weight of the things that I hate to leave behind. I'd rather, I suppose, not do this; and just lug the crap that I do own all the way to my new home. I'd rather be smashed in the embrace of an old friend's hug when I finally get to see them again. I'd rather keep everything that matters, because only the things that do not embrace one-another are crap (the books, and the cables, and the kinked wires), and even the crap reminds me of those that do embrace.

To distract myself from the strong sense of missing that I am already anticipating, I think I'll probably learn to find comfort in these objects, even if they are just objects. There's something to be said for a warm quilt that smells of laundry detergent, even if it just reminds me of someplace else. Until I have new friends and until I make new memories, this will do: a warm quilt, and a cup of tea, and my own young old self.


On Being Awake in the Dead of Night

It's been a while since I've written much here, but perhaps it's been a while since I've slept so little. I find it somewhat strange that insomnia is so often associated with distress, anxiety, and the like. I certainly am awful at sleeping - or at least I am awful at sleeping during the normal hours - but it is not always because I am feeling any of these things. I don't pretend to be immune to distress or anxiety, and in fact I can excel at both if I put my mind to it, but insomnia for me is something different. At times, it's felt like rebellion - a strange sort of semi-voluntary nonconformity. At other times, it's been a respite from the noise and chaos of excessive sensory stimulus. At times, it's been the time in which I can do all the things that I wanted to do during the daytime hours, but couldn't find time for: like reading, or drawing, or daydreaming, or drafting designs on the rest of my life and figuring out how best to direct my creative energies. I can't say I've figured it out yet, but I've got another fifty or sixty years to get it right.

There are nights in which I try to sleep, and I toss and turn for hours, but this sort of night is extremely rare. It may happen perhaps once every several months. The more common sort of night for me is the night in which I, finally having a large chunk of silence and space and time to work with, feel that I am free to think, and process, and sort through the things that I am feeling. It's important for me to have this time be alone and think about things and decompress, and it's easiest to do this in the middle of the night when the likelihood of any sort of responsibility interrupting my thoughts, or the likelihood of their being a loud voice in the next room, is slim.

I think it started out when I would stay up just an hour or two past my bedtime as a kid. I'd do all sorts of different things, and always it felt magical, like stolen time that I was using to do things that I had the pleasure of sharing with no one except for nighttime itself. Some nights I'd stay up late reading. My Dad or Mom would put me to bed, and I'd get out a little flashlight and hide under the sheets to read, like in the movies. Other nights, during the short time-period in which we shared a bunk-bed, my brother and I would talk about stuff to one another.

For a while, when I was thirteen or so, I'd try to quietly practice ballet within the small space of my bedroom. My Mom had recently made me quit taking classes, and I had this idea in the back of my mind that maybe if I practiced late into the night, even if it meant sacrificing sleep and being tired in class the next day, I could be a great ballerina. I eventually stopped doing this, because it was hard to do in the dark, and I realized that I was only fooling myself. Maybe I was doing it more for the sake of being obsessed with a craft - something that I feel strongly yet often direct at too many sorts of crafts at once, to the point where it is overwhelming and frustrating - than for the sake of being good at something. I'd really rather just obsess over one craft or art form and manage to pull off being good at it than obsess over every art form and obsess over creative expression in general. There is a point where it hurts to love something like, say, music, if one is forced to face one's own limitations; and these limitations are only increased when you throw in an additional love for drawing, and writing, and theatre, and ballet, or... The list could go on, and I don't want to get too hypothetical here.

Sometimes I'd stay up in my grandparents' house in Berkeley and read all of the old books on their bookshelf. Or I'd stay up at my other grandparents' house in Davis and tiptoe around, spooking myself out by glimpsing my own reflection in a window and then running, barefoot, on the cold brown tiles of the floor. Sometimes my cousin and I would stay up late whispering and giggling and talking about our lives and our families and the stories that we knew and liked. Sometimes we'd sneak out of the bedroom and just tiptoe around the house for the sake of making mischief. We weren't supposed to be up, and yet there we were, wide awake, with the clock above the stove to serve as a reminder of our delinquency. For such good kids, we sure loved to get into trouble, and we'd cry and then laugh about it once we were scolded.

Other nights, I'd open my bedroom window and press my nose against the screen, feeling the night air. I still remember the smell of that air, and the smell of the screen as I pressed my nose up against it. I did a lot of wishing on stars, and praying to Gods just in case they existed, and mouthing little wishes to whoever might listen. I wished a lot about my future, and about my family, and about people I cared about or people I had crushes on. I think I did a lot of crying while smelling that screen and while smelling that night air, too. But as much as I wished my nights away, I also just stared at the sky quite a bit. I looked for constellations, and I tried to sharpen my eyes to an extent that would allow me to see the deer running around in the back yard. Sometimes our cat would perch itself on the wooden railing near my window, and it would reach its nose far enough so that I could see its face through the screen. Sometimes I thought about removing the screen entirely and escaping from my room by climbing onto that railing, thirty feet or so off the ground; but when it came down to it, I had nothing really to escape from, and didn't know yet what I wanted to escape to.

At my Mom's house, it was different. I would stay up reading or writing or drawing, but I'd also often stay up playing my guitar, or listening to CD's in my discman. I had a copy of Sgt. Pepper's that I would listen to a lot. I had a copy of Peter and the Wolf that got some listening.

The best thing to do, though, was to open the door from my room to the front porch really softly, and leave my room. I'd step lightly on the front porch, and lightly in the front yard, and I'd open the gate softly so as not to let it squeak, and I'd be free. I spent a lot of time just walking around the old neighborhoods. Sometimes I'd go to the park and just sit in the middle of a field, or on the steps of the bleachers there. Sometimes I'd go to my old elementary school and look into the dark windows of the old classrooms. Sometimes I'd walk for hours and just keep walking because I felt I had a lot to sort through in my head. I didn't really sneak out for the purpose of meeting up with friends, although to this day I still like the feel of that notion, but mainly just for the purpose of seeing what it felt like to be out there in the night on my own terms, with my own thoughts. Sometimes I'd run into people while walking around - usually folks a bit older than me that I knew from the music scene back home - but usually I'd walk alone; and usually I'd walk for a long time.

I guess eventually this time of solitude had to be pushed back even further into the hours of the night, once I went to college and started living with other folks who stayed up late. Sometimes finding those hours of time to myself would mean waiting until three, or four, or five in the morning. After a while I think it just became habit.

I supposed the notion of insomnia being a vessel for anxiety hits home to some extent, in that I tend to do a lot of thinking during those wee hours of the night, but I still spot something of a misconception here, at least in terms of how I relate to the concept. The thoughts that I have are rarely thoughts of stress or anger or sadness. I get most of that kind of thinking done earlier in the day, if at all. Rather, I tend to find myself just remarking on the awe that I feel in response to life itself and in response to the world around me. I find myself dwelling in a sort of state of wonder. It's this state of wonder that keeps me reaching out to people, and letting myself open up my heart, and reminding myself to make art and music, and knowing why I live the kind of life that I live and do the things that I do. This sense of wonder can be found everywhere, and certainly not just in that space that exists in the silent middle of the night, but it's so immediate in that late, late hour, that I've grown fond of being acquainted with it in that way.

There's a comfort in the silence of the night, because it's a silence I know well. It's strange that different kinds of silence can feel so different. I think my favorite sort of silence is the kind that can be found by way of riding my bike way out into the country, stopping roadside, and walking into the middle of some orchard to just sit there amongst the little saplings or tomato plants or the tall grasses. It's a silence that seems to go well with the smell of grasses in the warm summer air. It's a silence that is rarely broken in a way that is abrasive, and more often broken in a way that indicates signs of life, sans the chaos of life. The buzzing of a fly, for instance, may break the silence, and although the fly has a more abrasive kind of sound to it, it still seems to be a sound that belongs.

Hours awake in the middle of the night never seem to bring about any confusion or unrest, despite the fact that what I experience during those hours is a very literal kind of unrest. Instead, I find myself coming to comforting kinds of conclusions. I find myself reminding myself why it is that I love what I love, and knowing - knowing that it is worth it, no matter how painful. I find myself remembering why I take risks in my interactions with people and why I remain open to people despite my own fears. I find myself reestablishing my love of music and art and writing if I need to, and if ever I find myself doubting whether I am wasting my time, within a few hours alone, wrapped in my own ponderings, I will manage to assure myself that I do these things because I must, and because that is who I am. Mostly, I find myself feeling great amounts of care - not care directed at anyone or anything in particular, but care still in the inlets of my heart, waiting to be applied toward some project or song or something. I find myself noting the great amounts of love that I have for the things in my life, and trying to find the best way to show this. I find myself thinking that maybe love is really all that I need, and the fact that I still find myself thinking this despite the number of times that i have been hurt only makes me believe it more. I find myself thinking about art and music and writing as extensions of this feeling, and feeling grateful that the source of these things is seemingly infinite and in no way confined within myself but existing in the people that I know and the songs that I listen to again and again.

The hours I spend awake at night are mostly spent thinking about why I am glad that I get to spend hours awake during the day. Sometimes I wish there were more of both - the daytime hours, and the nighttime hours.

Maybe it'll shorten my life, or render me too sleepy or sound-sensitive or introverted or ponderous; but fuck it. There is a clarity of thought that I find there, in the middle of the night, that I crave; and that I store for later use, lest I need it during the light of day.


On Lemon Trees and Spinning 'Round in Chairs

I'm thinking of a particular tree, in a particular yard, in a particular town. I haven't seen this tree in years. Maybe a decade. But i think it's probably still there. This time of year, it's likely bearing bright yellow fruit, and it's leaning toward the house and away from the house as a breeze that smells of flowers sways its branches. I've seen this tree a hundred times, but not in years. Something about knowing this tree, and thinking of it, and knowing that it's probably right where I left it those many years ago (not knowing then how long it would be that I would go without seeing it), makes me glad.

I'm thinking, too, of my Mom's old drafting table, and where it used to be in the house that I grew up in. I'm thinking of the spinning office chair that stood in front of it, that I used to sit on. I remember the exact feel of the metal circular bar at the base of it that I used to put my bare feet on - feet that grew in size as I did so. My feet, in all their different stages of growth, rested bare on that cool metal bar at the base of it, and many afternoons I spun around in the chair again and again, sometimes going so fast that I was sure I would fly off. Maybe I did. I don't remember. But I remember that feeling of just sitting in the chair and spinning, and again I feel glad.

I've written many-an-ode to solitude, and time spent alone. I've written many things about the reasons for letting people go, and letting people leave my life, and letting people know only a piece of me, but what I've come to realize is that there's something really incredible about truly getting to know people. There's something about things happening slowly, like the growth of those feet or the fruiting of that tree, that is really indescribable. It's been, lately, the people in my life who have made me realize how amazing it can be just to, well, be. It's not that my life is enjoyable only because these people are in it. It's sort of the other way around. I love these people because they are able to see and understand and appreciate all of those things that have always made life so rich - rich in ways I've often wondered if I could share with people, and rich in ways I've always hoped I wasn't the only person to understand. I love the people that I love not because they make life worth living, but because they understand why life is worth living, and they choose to live it, because they know how worth it it can be to do so. This makes me love many-a-small-thing about life, and it's manifested in my mind an ever-growing list of things that I would like to do, and places that I would like to see, and things that I would like to cook, and songs that I would like to find (if they exist) or write (if they don't). This ever-growing list of things that I would like to do, and experience, and see, and revisit, is something I'd like to share with other people. Maybe I'll do some of these things with people that I love, or maybe I'll do some of them alone. Maybe I won't do them, but I'll always know that I can. Maybe I'll meet people with similar ever-growing lists and we'll swap list-items, and we'll spend our lives doing things, and just being. And some of these things can be done again and again and somehow never be the same, because that's the nature of the mind, and one's thoughts and ideas, and the heart: It's constantly growing, and it relishes being somewhere beautiful or doing something fun or being with good people every time it happens, and always in a new way.

Sometimes those fleeting moments of happiness and awe and inspiration that I've talked about so much, usually couched as such (as being fleeting and ephemeral) are not so fleeting. Sometimes they come again and again. Sometimes they don't, but the memories remain. Sometimes new moments appear in their wake. Sometimes they're just dreams. But the beautiful thing is that so much can happen that cannot be anticipated, and there's a beauty to be experienced that even the most intricate and fruitful imagination can't, in its deepest state or REM or its most inspired years, ever guess would or could occur. There's a shaking of hands between will and volition and passion and determination and the unknown and that which is not apprehended and that which one never even dreamed existed. I'm ready for all of it.

Sometimes life can be so damn beautiful.

I'm thinking of impulsive decisions to jump on a bus with a dear friend in the middle of the night without checking to see where the bus is going, and I'm thinking of just letting the bus take me somewhere far away, where maybe I'll sit on a rocky beach, or drink a bottle of wine next to a redwood, or find some strange relic of yore in a little store in a box that hasn't been opened in years. I'm thinking of trains, and cars, and deserts, and night skies, and planes, and vehicles that take the individual away from one thing and toward another. And I'm also thinking of these trains and buses and planes as vehicles that move in two directions, and vehicles that will bring me home when I am ready to come home. I'm thinking of home, and somehow I can't help but think of it as a large and ever-growing entity that spreads out over my present and my past and the people I have known and know and will know, lost and kept and may lose and may not, and I am glad that all of these moments and all of these people comprise this feeling of comfort, and inspiration, and warmth, and nostalgia, and excitement, and anticipation, and home.

I just feel lucky. Lucky to be. And lucky to be in whatever way I choose to be. Lucky that the nature of this being can be whatever it should ultimately be. Lucky not to know yet what that may be, and lucky to get to find out.

Right now, I'm glad that when I think of why I am lucky to be here, I think of a lemon tree in a backyard on Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Berkeley, California; and I think of a drafting chair from long ago; and I think of the people in my life. I like, too, the fact that the changing of the seasons and the coming about of new smells in the air brings to mind new memories that cycle through me although I had for a long while forgotten them. There are things that I probably do not remember now that someday, maybe on some porch in front of some house I've never seen, next to who-knows-who or nobody or a cat, next to a tree bearing blossoms or fruit of a kind I can't predict, with a cup of tea that maybe I've had a hundred times before or maybe I've never had, I'll remember. And I look forward to remembering as much as I look forward to experiencing something new.


I've spent a lot of time trying to match up the things that I feel with the way that I live my life. There was an initial period of trying to understand the way that I felt, and why I felt the things that I did. This lasted probably through my adolescence, and in my adolescence it became the most difficult to reconcile with the world around me. It was during adolescence that I, like most people, learned about injustice, and the lack of immediate gratification, and the necessity of at certain points learning to let things go. One of the hardest things to learn was that the act of letting something go was not an act of betrayal toward the self, but rather an act of honor and respect for the self. In addition, I found that it was an act of respect for the thing that was let go. There's a certain point where one has to realize that the beauty of the world lies largely in its chaotic nature. The inability of one person to see what will happen in his or her life, and the inability to control that future, is easily seen as a cage inside of which the individual is bound. From a different point of view, it is a kind of adventure that is better than that with a self-prescribed itinerary, because the things presented to the self when control is relinquished are things that the individual wouldn't have chosen on his or her own. Because of this simple quality that these things have in common - the quality of being unexpected and unanticipated - they are exciting, and incredible, and capable of inducing awe. It's difficult to be awestruck by anything that is anticipated, so it seems that the best way to admit awe into one's life is to be open to things beyond one's control.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to wield my feelings, and how to wield them gracefully. I've come to the conclusion as of late that perhaps the best way to wield emotions is with absolute, shameless honesty. By this, I don't mean that they should be blown out of proportion, or played up, or wielded with the intent of gaining or manipulating. Instead, I mean that they should be held as precious simply because they are one's own, and because they are indicative of an honesty held with one's own self. They should be held as absolutely sacred because they are birthed out of real experiences, and interactions with real people, and because they exist as a direct result of the way that one's mind interacts not only with the world around it but with the heart, too. Where I was unable to find any sense of peace in downplaying or undermining the things that I felt because of a fear concerning how they would be received, I find one of the only comforts I've ever felt in accepting them as they are, and presenting them as they are, because each instance of this kind of behavior - an honest kind, that holds in high esteem the emotions and priorities of the self - reinforces the feeling of being alive in a completely sincere and vulnerable way. It's good to be vulnerable if the vulnerability is presented with absolute honesty and confidence, because it then embodies a kind of power instead of a weakness. No one can know what an individual truly feels, so if that individual presents something other than that which is real and sincere, the individual will feel out of place, not because he or she is misunderstood, but because he or she is out of touch with the self. The mind and heart may communicate clearly, but the mind and the individual's actions may exist in opposition to one another; or the mind and heart may disagree. The mind and heart may fail to even consult one-another, or the mind and the individual's actions may entirely contradict each other. The best way to enable a smooth travel from heart to mind and back to heart, or heart to mind to action, is to allow for each communication between each of these to be entirely honest, and open. Regardless of the seemingly stupid nature of any action that may be taken, it can be an utterly holy action so long as it comes from a place of honesty. And, because being honest with oneself can in itself be difficult, allowing for contradiction between past and present is another kind of honesty, and one that makes way for change and growth.

There's not enough time to silence the heart, and there's not enough time to be concerned with how things might be misinterpreted. The guarantee is this: if what is said is anything other than what is truly felt, misinterpretation is not only possible but absolutely present; and, worse, it is a misinterpretation not only held by others but also held by the self. It's hard enough, God knows, to understand oneself. Why make it harder for others to understand you, too?

Here's what I conclude: Seek to understand the self, of course, but don't hesitate to act in a situation that requires courage or strength. We remember this as children, but we somehow forget it as we get older. Could it be, then, that the act of maturing and growing is the act of remembering why we were right all along as children when we smiled at strangers, or hugged someone when we wanted to, or cried when we wanted to? Could it be that the act of growing up is nothing but learning to be a child again in all of the right ways, but now equipped with the emotional and mental maturity that it takes to truly appreciate what it is to be childlike? Maybe we force that emotional honesty out of our systems and, if we are lucky, we learn that it is absolutely imperative that we reestablish this. It is when we encounter things that we truly care about, and things that we can't risk being dishonest with, that we remember the reasons for being straightforward; and the strange thing is that, in being straightforward in these situations, we must take action, and through taking action we risk a change. Sometimes this change can mean losing that very thing that we hold dear - the very thing that made us aware of this need for emotional integrity. But, again, the guarantee is this: If we do nothing when we want to do something, we will absolutely lose that thing, not because of a sudden change, but because of a gradual loss caused by a lack of respect all around: respect for the self, and respect for other individuals' selves. If any one person loses someone or something simply by token of their being honest toward that person or that situation, then that thing was not nearly as precious as they initially perceived it to be. The most precious things in the world are not necessarily the easiest, but the ones that risk losing someone or something for the sake of letting that person or situation view their inner self and true feelings more clearly. The greatest gift I would ever want to give somebody would be a situation of trust, and this is the same gift that we should give ourselves. In trusting ourselves, we let ourselves trust others, and vice versa. Honesty - the shameless, brutal honesty of frolicking in the muck of life and love and risk and fear - may not be the quickest route toward comfortability, but it seems to be one of the surest routes toward feeling understood by the world, and understanding the world in turn. Maybe if we can all learn to do this, we can learn to feel at home wherever we go. What is home, after all, but a place where you are free to be understood, not just as you would like to be but as you are? I'd rather be understood as the absolute honest mess that each of us can be sometimes than as a composed shell of a human being, lacking in passion for the world around me. There's a lot in this world that warrants my love and my enthusiasm and my awe and my passion, and not only would I regret not experiencing those things in a way that lets me feel those things - I'd also regret not letting those things and people in the world know just how inspiring they are to me. It's selfish of me to fail to inform the world of the incredible extent to which it is capable of blowing my mind. From here on out, if something floors me more than I thought I was capable of being floored, I'll damn well let it know. If all this does is terrify it, then at least it will know more about itself by way of understanding its place as an influencing factor in the world and in the lives of others.

Frolic in the muck, I say, because we only get one chance to experience muck of any caliber at all. I don't know about everyone else, but I have an inkling that most people would agree that they would like to be around for their lives, no matter how awful or embarrassing the events in those lives may be. Sometimes you can't look at the ground closely unless you trip and fall flat on your face, and if you don't look at things closely you might miss something. I think it's important to give things the attention they warrant when they are interesting, and to be open to the possibility of failing and falling and embarrassing oneself, because that's just what life sometime entails, and it'll only make the good things better because we will know that we got there by way of unabashedly opening our hearts to the possibility of their occurrence. There's no reason to be afraid of truly living, in an honest way; and most of the time it seems that life is more painful when it is pain that we are most concerned with and worried about. Life is more painful when one exists in a strange interim, in which things are felt but not expressed, than it is when everything that is trusted and true is expressed - even if this sometimes results in loss or hurt or chaos. Better to have the bad kind of chaos along with the good kind of chaos than no chaos whatsoever. I'm excited to live and to learn every year how to better understand the things that I feel and act upon them in a way that pays tribute to how much they mean to me. One of these days I am going to say something and look back the next day only to realize that I had truly meant it, and had truly expressed it too; and although I'm sure this has happened before, I hope that it will continue to happen, and more frequently. I never fail to be amazed by the world around me, but I think I sometimes fail to articulate what this world means to me, or I fail to trust the things that most strike awe into my heart. Sometimes they are the same things that paralyze me with fear, but what I'm coming to realize is that the presence of fear is often a surefire indicator of deep care or feeling or love, and this is what it means to be alive. What we should really be afraid of is squelching those feelings because of that fear. When I feel fear in the future, I'd like to pay even more honest respect to whatever it is that caused that fear, because it'll surely be something of magnitude if it can cause me to tremble in my boots to that extent. I don't think fear will ever go away, because we will never stop caring. Fear is maybe an awareness of a risk, which is indicative of the extent to which something is meaningful to me. I never want to stop caring, so i say bring on the fear. Fear reminds me what I care about, and should never be a signal to undermine those things that I care about when I talk about them. If anything, fear should remind me to speak of those things with greater respect: not because they are innately good, or bad, or anything like that, but because they remind me what matters to me, and who matters to me, and why these things matter to me; and they will remind me to appreciate those things and immerse myself in those things and risk my own pride for those things. Pride can recuperate, and it is mostly illusory anyhow, so it's a small price to pay for true experience and a meaningful life.

Also, I think it's fine to stay up all night once in a while just to bask in appreciation, or inspiration. And I think it's okay to say things that come out kind of messy, and to stumble over words, so long as the attempt to be true is there. If the intent is there, and if one starts a sentence enough times, eventually some semblance of the truth will be understood. That's all we can ask for, and sometimes it takes years' worth of mangled sentences to get to that point. So, I guess, we should start talking and mangling sentences now so that we might be better understood sooner. We don't want to miss out on understanding and connection, because it is these which remind us of what is most beautiful in the world, and in our selves.

Even if things aren't always pleasant, they can be always interesting, and interestingness seems to be hugely underrated. Magic, unexplained or circumstantial, isn't going to find you if you don't give it a chance. If something means something to you, let it know - don't take to heel. Awesomeness abounds.


On Human Interaction

The balance between the self and the other is something that is very difficult to maintain; but in a way that is so instructive in teaching one how to be patient, both with the self and with others, that I can't help but remark on the beauty of this lesson, even as I myself struggle to remind myself of its wisdom and struggle to apply its wisdom to my day-to-day life and the events therein.

When one approaches another, the other moves away. When the first steps back in a mirrored response to the moving away of the other, then the other will step forward. The result is a mutual attempt to either maintain the distance between the two, or to keep the amount of movement toward the center done by either party regulated, so that neither moves closer or further away more quickly than the other. If one moves toward the other a bit too quickly, the other will step back. If one moves toward the other much too quickly, the other will turn and run. In some people, this response is greater than in others. If one steps back a bit in apprehension of the forward-motion of another, the other may step back just a bit as well. If one steps back too far, or just turns and walks away, the other might take it as a breach of trust altogether, and will turn and run as well.

This is a rusty and sloppy version of what I hear is called the "rubber-band theory" by psychologists. My concern isn't really the specifics of the theory, but more my reactions to this phenomenon when I attempt to be objective about it.

If the person distancing himself from me is someone I care about, it's difficult to see the beauty in this little dance or game or whatever it might most aptly be called. However, if I try to step outside of myself and think of a hypothetical situation of this kind, the movements between one individual and another of this kind are somewhat remarkable, in that they create a perfect opportunity for a lesson to be learnt, and a perfect context for this learning to occur, in which there is room for small mistakes, and room for slow learning, and room for fear and hesitation. The context is perfectly designed (bear with me on my word choice here) to ensure that this lesson must eventually be learnt, for one can't enter the context without eventually entering into this game itself, which can only be won by way of learning the routine, and can only be lost by way of being made very aware of the routine - the hard way.

What I find most beautiful about this very natural quality of human interaction is just the fact that, as long as the individual is alive and living, the lesson is being slowly learnt. If the individual has to step away from a situation in order to approach it anew, the individual is learning. If he or she steps forward too far and causes someone to run away as a result, he or she is learning. If an individual chooses to give up on getting to know someone and runs away on his or her own, that individual is opting out but still learning the hard way; and the lesson will be repeated each time a new person is met. The only winning is in getting to know somebody well and keeping that person as a lover or as a friend. The only losing is getting once again beat over the head with the nature of the lesson itself; and this isn't really a loss at all, for it is a step forward in the learning of how to be able to truly get to know a person.

The other beautiful thing about this is that every person is a participant, even if they don't make attempts at getting to know other people at all. If, say, a hermit leaves his home to buy a carton of milk, he may encounter a clerk, and the clerk might ask him a personal question. The hermit, in true hermit-fashion, might perhaps take the milk, leave the change on the counter, and run away; but this will cause two things to happen. Firstly, the clerk will exercise a tiny bit more caution in the future, unless he's entirely dense, and will refrain from asking questions that are too personal. Secondly, the hermit might become slightly less sensitive to being asked personal questions, and the next time it happens he will perhaps remember to pick up his change instead of opting to tip the clerk out of pure social awkwardness and utter terror. So, in this way, this phenomenon works even when the results are only apparent with respect to how they effect other individuals who may not have even been involved in the initial interaction.

It's lovely to think about a whole network, in which people are dancing back and forth with one-another, and in which some run so far from one person that they run too fast into another, who in turn runs too far from that person and too quickly into another, and so on. It brings to mind an image much like the one I had in my head in middle school when my science teacher taught us about the dispersion of gaseous molecules in a sealed room; and the way in which they would distance themselves from one-another so that the distance between each was the same; and the subsequent way in which they would restore this equidistance after it was disturbed (e.g. after a window was opened for a short while, or after more of this gaseous substance was let into the room).

With this in mind, human beings seem a very natural and predicable bunch. They aren't really, though, are they? The thing I like about it is that these human beings behave emotionally very much like these gaseous molecules behave physically. Rarely do we get a chance to say that the emotional realm is mimetic of the physical, or vice-versa. Loosely, sure, but nonetheless mimetic.


On saying all the wrong things and none of the right things

I can tell you a million unimportant yet perhaps mildly amusing anecdotes. I can tell you some really funny ones, maybe, too; at least once in a while. I can say an infinite number of things about an infinite number of unimportant subjects: The kinds of things that are easy to speculate about because no assertion one way or the other with regard to these subjects will really shock or offend anyone. No one will raise an eyebrow. Someone might chuckle, but he or she will not remember what was said in a day or a month or a year. I can make a dozen jokes and several dozen silly or even witty puns, and a million or more out-of-place sound-effects. I can say something under my breath just to myself that is entirely inaudible, and laugh for hours about it. Speaking is easy, and I say so, so many things. The kinds of things that can be said, and the ways in which these things might be uttered, are so numerous. Despite this, I get tired of talking, because it's the things I don't say that are the most important.

Why is it that I choke on my words when I want to say something that actually means something to me? Many words might have little effect on the world around me, but there are some things that could really effect something or someone. By way of uttering these certain words, I might actually change the course of my life in one way or another; but these are the words I just can't stutter my way through. I might say a million seemingly unrelated things in an attempt to enclose the topic and by way of framing it somehow get my point across, but the result will be something of a spider-web of sentiment, and will likely result in confusion rather than clarity.

The words that I want to shout from mountaintops are the same words that I can't even bring myself to force out in a whisper. The things I'm most sure of are the things I'm most hesitant to say. I'm perfectly willing to say a number of things that I'm unsure of, and to present these ideas as postulations, but when I know something to be true for me, I keep it to myself and hold it close as if it could do no good in the world outside of my own mind. I truly want to say these things, because I feel that I often keep myself from expressing my most sincere or meaningful thoughts.

When I find that I really believe in something, or care about something or someone, I become so sure of it that I fear I wouldn't be able to handle the pain of presenting it to the world - that thing that I so adamantly believe in - and having the world snuff it out or throw stones at it or walk away from me as soon as they see it.

I'm caged in by my own awareness of the potential for negative repercussions that might result from things that I say that have actual weight to them. I'm tired of saying so many things that don't mean much to me, and yet not saying anything that truly means something to me. I'd rather say nothing at all than say anything other than what matters the most. I can't expect people to read my mind, and yet I find myself feeling disappointed when they don't.

Speaking a million truths that mean nothing to me feels almost the same as telling a million little lies. And the more I refrain from saying the things that I most believe in and most care about, the more I care about those things and the more I treasure them, and the more I fear that they will be ruined once they are expressed to the world. I've tried to remedy this by just confronting my fears head-on and saying what I mean whenever I want to, but the result is this: I end up saying a lot of things in an attempt to express those things which matter the most, but I never quite hit the nail on the head and so I just end up doing a lot of talking, and saying a lot of things that don't quite do justice to the way I feel.

My heart feels about full to a bursting-point, so I'm going to have to find some way to express the love and conviction and passion and wonder and awe that I feel. Most importantly, I have to find some way to express these things in a way that doesn't request anything of the listener, and doesn't apologize for itself, and doesn't undermine or belittle itself, and doesn't dismiss itself even in that moment in which it is uttered. I don't know how to do this. I admire those who say nothing, because at least they are saying fewer unimportant things than the rest of us.


On Grumps and Recluses

For whatever reason, I think a lot about time spent alone. Perhaps it's because I've done a lot of it in my time. I'm not sure. It's comfortable for me. I guess it makes sense that it would be, given that I had divorced parents and went from one house to another every three days. When there's no one point on a map that constitutes home at a given point in time, and when one is always surrounded by different people, one learns to be chameleon-like, and flexible. I don't know if this is good - and wish sometimes that I could be more set in my ways, or have my "ways" be less numerous, or even be more clear on what my "ways" are - but it has its applications.

Living in multiple places makes one aware of his or her ability to be happy in different conditions, and around different people, and in different environments. This makes life easier, because one realizes that he or she will never really be unable to cope with whatever environment happens to exist around the self at the moment; but it also makes certain things harder. When one option seems as doable as another option, in terms of career or location or surroundings, the act of deciding proves difficult. I feel like I've learned to look at situations from all angles, but the problem is that I think I can find merit in just about anything, and that means that I want to devote adequate time to a number of things; and, of course, if I devote time to a number of things, none of this time will be in any way at all adequate.

Perhaps this is why it feels so good to indiscriminately get rid of stuff and rule out options just for the sake of simplification. I take great pleasure in selling records that I don't listen to anymore, just because of the space it creates in my room. I take pleasure in realizing that I prioritize one thing over another thing, just because it is so often the case that I can't do this, and will instead talk myself into pursuing multiple avenues at once. I'd rather do nothing than do too many things half-assedly; and i certainly don't want to wind up doing nothing. Ruling out options means committing to doing something more wholly and less half-assedly, and I consider this a good thing.

I've digressed. Something occurred to me while I was on my bike the other day. The sun was going down, and the sky was past the point of sunset and in the midst of that weird interim phase where it looks almost grey. This is irrelevant, but I can picture the color of it, so it seems worth writing down. Here's what occurred to me: Society seems to frequently perceive the recluse as somebody who has shunned society - someone who dislikes human interaction and has given up on it. But it seems that this might be a huge misconception in some cases. At times, I seek solitude, and there is something that always holds true about these particular times: They are times in which I consider human interaction to be something extremely important, yet in which I feel that I should avoid it for some reason. The reason is never anything like me deciding to write of friendships, or me having become so fed up with socialization that I have decided that I am better off alone. Usually it's something else: Perhaps I will feel that I have become spread too thin, and want to take time out to refuel so that I feel I have more to offer to my friends when I do see them; or perhaps I have been hugely effected by some social interaction, and want to fully understand it and mentally digest it before moving on with my social life, such as one might do after a break up; or perhaps I feel the need to work on things in my own life so that I'm not placing the burden of my own happiness on other people, as I think one tends to do when one spends too much time being social and not enough time on oneself. Additionally, I think it's good to be alone once in a while to remind oneself that one can be happy alone, because then social interactions take on the quality of being a bonus - the icing on the cake - rather than something necessary. I'd rather treat the people around me as wonderful additions to my life, rather than necessary ingredients, because it protects their autonomy and lets them trust in my motives when it comes to why I am their friend. None of these reasons for solitude are in any way indicative of a dislike for company or companionship or the social world in general, but they are testaments to just how valuable all of the aforementioned are to the individual, and they are indicative of a desire to have utmost respect for others by way of having respect for the self and not holding others responsible for this respect. In this way, one is able to better appreciate others.

I wonder if all of the Scrooges of the world just had hearts bigger than they knew what to do with - hearts of sizes so big that the only possible culprit could be a love for humanity itself... Maybe a love for humanity so great that the awareness of how difficult it could be to reconcile that kind if an idealism with the real world would just be too much to bear. Grumpiness seems often an indicator of some underlying sensitivity and vulnerability. That's where benefit-of-the-doubt comes in; and forgiveness. Some people don't deal with people well, but I don't think it always means that they don't care. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that more often than not it's the opposite. I'm a big fan of spending time alone, and I'm a big fan of benefit-of-the-doubt. I'm a fan of grumps, too.


Annoying: Groups of people acting way too excited about mundane shit.

"How are you guys doing tonight?"

"Is everybody already on the mailing list?"

It's like a giant fake orgasm. I'm not sure which is a more frightening prospect: That these people are actually that enthused about signing a mailing list, or that these people are so eager to play the role of good audience member. Reexamine your priorities and think for yourselves, people. The nazi party was composed of a bunch of really good audience members.

I'm all for excitement, but I think it should be reserved for things that are actually exciting. If you react like this to the prospect of signing up to be pummeled with spam, how are you going to react when you win the lottery?

"I dunno, man... He really didn't deserve to win. He didn't even seem very happy about it."
"I thought he looked happy. He was pumping his fist and grinning from ear to ear, while tears streamed down his face."
"Yeah, well, I dunno. He's always like that. He acted that way when my grandmother showed him her thimble collection."


I have a hard time believing that this kind of exuberance benefits the self in any way. But then who is it for? The performer/ person on stage/ other audience members? What happened to people being desirous of sincerity, even if it meant a bit of apathy?


On Things That Remain the Same

Sometimes it seems that nothing has changed since I was a kid in the way that I view the world, and in the way that things effect me. My reactions remain pretty consistent. My ability to predict these reactions, perhaps, gets better - which results in my avoidance of certain situations - but the reactions themselves are pretty much the same.

I find myself recreating situations of comfort that were existent when I was a kid without my having to create them. For instance, I find myself taking great comfort in breakfasting with a group of people and talking for hours after, and I find myself fantasizing about hosting large breakfast parties on Sunday mornings. This seems like an emulation of what my Grandparents used to do out in the country. Of course, the original event itself can never be recreated, but the desire to do so seems to be an attempt to ensure that there is some sort of a constant in my life that ties the present to the past. When location and company is constantly changing, there are few links of this sort, and many of them involve tradition. Family is another.

My natural surroundings seem to be another constant that I return to for comfort. They, too, are always changing; but unlike the changing nature of circumstance or friendship or location, there is something really serene and beautiful about this kind of change, at least when it involves the changing of the seasons and not the unnatural changes brought on by human beings. I worry that the comforting nature of - well, nature itself - will be disrupted by human nature. This is selfish, and really my worries concerning our effect on nature are broader, but since in this context I'm discussing my own relationship to nature, perhaps I will be understood.

Another comfort to me throughout the years that has remained effective since I was a young child is just solitude itself. This - especially when coupled with time spent in natural surroundings - keeps me grounded and helps me to reevaluate my priorities and limits. There's a clarity of thought that can be found when alone that doesn't even compare to the hyperactive series of tangents that I experience when in good company. Both are equally important and rewarding, yet each serves a very different purpose. There's something to be said for withdrawing, too, because the reality that manifests itself is one in which those friends who remain through these periods of withdrawal and in spite of these periods of withdrawal are those who truly seem to understand me - and when they don't, they give me the benefit of the doubt. I appreciate this.

The two other comforts that most readily come to mind are more distractions than constants. The impetuses for these two things remain constant, yet the things themselves are erratic and by nature spontaneous and disruptive. In a positive way that reinforces my appreciation for all of the aforementioned. These two things are art (and by this I mean listening to music, making music, reading literature, writing, drawing, looking at art, watching films, etc.) and the act of being stir-crazy. The first of these two is rich and multi-faceted and worthy of an entire entry devoted to each part of it, so I'll leave it be for now. The latter is probably at first look difficult to understand, but just as valuable. By "stir-crazy" I mean discontent with just remaining stagnant and instead craving movement and adventure and progress. It is this constant feeling of a desire to do something and go somewhere and travel on in a forward motion in my life that (perhaps aside from friends and loved ones) gives life the most purpose of all, because it is what causes me to pursue new avenues and meet new people and start new projects. It is what makes me plug my headphones in and listen to that record I've never really given a chance. It's what makes me write a song. It's what makes me go out into the fields and just sit in the vastness of open space. It's what makes me plan my next course of action and dream about all the places and people I've never seen. It's what provides me with the comfort of the realization that I will never be terribly unhappy or bored or impoverished because I will just get too antsy for mental stimulation for this to really happen. I feel fortunate in this respect. The interestingness of life itself is enough reason to wake up every morning. Curiosity is the best thing in the world and, even if it begets a kind of idealism that leaves the individual always looking forward for something greater, it is still positive; for this kind of idealism is what causes the individual to provide better solutions, more accurate answers... This is the kind of idealism that causes the individual who is dissatisfied with the present to look at the reasons for this, and an awareness of these reasons is what leads to social and political change. It is what perpetuates scientific research. It is what makes better art. It is what disrupts dysfunctional governments. And it is what sometimes keeps children from making the same mistakes that their parents made. It's what allows for growth.


Skies seen while cycling

"Bike X-ing" sign:

Clouds, Stevenson Rd.:

Sunset, Russell Blvd.:

Treetops, Old Putah Creek Rd.:

On Popular Music and Lyrics

Someone needs to do a comprehensive study of how often certain words are used in the popular songs of various eras throughout the history of popular music, and which words most frequently occur in the top 100 or so songs over the years at different points in time. It would be interesting to see whether there is any pattern to the occurrence of certain words in songs that resonate with the general public at different points in time, aside from the obvious ones ("love," "time," "baby," etc.) - although it would be interesting to see how frequently these occur, too, and to then look at what was going on politically and culturally at the point at which, say, the word "gone" is most frequently occurring. I suspect that a lot of it is arbitrary, and that a lot of it remains somewhat consistent (because certain things just always have and always will resonate with human beings), but it would be interesting to see how the influence of an economic recession or depression or the influence of war or assassination changed the poetry of the most popular music of that time. I'm not saying that the most popular music would be the best music; but if the study just focused on the songs that were most listened to and requested, the resulting data would say something about the majority of human beings, which might be interesting even if it centered around some shitty music.

Someone also needs to write an entire book, complete with a plot, comprised only of lyrics from songs that meant something in some way to the author, or which were somehow lyrics that the author was aware of in some capacity.


That Feel

Perhaps it's the wet leaves that I know must litter the ground outside, or the flooding in my kitchen caused by the leaking roof; or the fleeting power-outtages that did not stay, but which made their peripheral presence known. Whatever it is, it's that one thing that, according to Tom Waits (with Keith Richards in the background to boot), you can't lose: That feel. Don't ask me to describe it, because it can't be described except by way of circling it and shooting through it without quite hitting it on the mark; but you know it when you have it, and I have it. It's not love, but more something like the awe of every kind of love one has ever had for anything ever. It's a feeling of not wanting to forget so many other feelings. It's a feeling of not wanting to lose those feelings. It's a feeling of sadness as one watches memories slowly fade and become paler, and the feeling of relief and joy upon realizing that there are so many moments yet to come in one's lifetime. It's the feeling of total and complete gratitude for those in one's life who are most loved. It's the simultaneous fear of losing these people, and fear of never meeting the others who could be these sorts of precious people. It's an open window in a suburb of Paris in the middle of the night, in a room that smells like pastries and cologne and coffee. It's a small elevator, and a large parking lot, and a small telephone booth, and a number of strange shops and an absence of people. It's a bus in Portland, and the colors of the seats and the nickels on the floor. It's a tree, in the middle of a field next to an orchard, under a full moon, and beer and whiskey both, and a laugh shared with the company there. It's the exchange of a book in a little park during a Christmas festival and a promise to return the book and to start anew. It's a walk to a trash can in a dirty city and a conversation about wanting to start again. It's a kiss in a church parking-lot at five in the morning and a moment of panic as the sun begins to rise. It's the feeling of sneaking out of one's bedroom in the middle of the night as a teenager, not to meet someone or to do anything illicit but just to be out in the night air, and just to have gotten there by way of sneaking out. It's the frozen noses of winter in the middle of the night, and the silence of solitude underneath the pine trees. It's a song's ability to bring tears to one's eye as that song is heard through headphones in the middle of the softest and quietest of snow-storms. It's the warm air and dry red dirt of a summer back home, and the stained and scratched purple hands of the blackberry-picker after hours of picking. It's the thousands of feet between one's nose and the floor of the valley as you look over at the Yosemite valley and feel very much a part of things and yet very, very small. It's frozen hands from snowball fights, and swollen eyes from sleepless nights, and long walks home from school just for the sake of walking under the pines. It's the act of leaning over the rail of a balcony to watch strangers pass by below, unaware that they are being watched. It's a nap in a park in the middle of the afternoon. It's that space of silence in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep. It's Christmas morning when you're awake too early and you're still young enough to wear pajamas with feet. It's the thumbing-through of picture-books and the wonder thereby induced. It's the callused hands from games of dodgeball and the broken nails from tetherball. It's the fear to approach another and the excitement felt at the same time over the idea of making a new friend. It's the brief goodbyes that don't sum up the moments before. It's the attempt to define those things which can't be bound by words. It's the look of understanding in the middle of a sentence and the look that follows which recognizes that the look before it pertained to something entirely unrelated to the sentence uttered. It's the space between faces and eyes and hands and noses, and the lack of space. It's the words uttered while waking, and the last words before sleep. It's all the things that slipped away from your memory as time passed by, or because you drank too much that night, or because you couldn't bear to remember those things because they were too beautiful or because they were too painful. It's the sudden remembrance or something from long ago that is unimportant but which happened. It's the running ahead of a group in order to be the first to look at some particular painting in a museum, just to get there first or just to see it without having to discuss it with anyone, just for a minute; to look at it in silence for that moment before the group catches up. It's the waving at a stranger because he's on his bike in the rain and so are you. It's the good meal after a long hike. It's the sky that makes you think about everyone you've ever missed when you realize that you wish they were there to look at that sky with you. It's those people who will never know how much they mean to you. It's that fear that you might forget, and the trust that you won't. It's the fact that every time you look at someone in the eye, every moment of past eye-contact and conversation and time spent together is summed up there in that present interaction. It's the way in which every past moment and thought and idea and experience and feeling serves as ornamentation for the present moment; and every past moment serves as a window through which to view the present. None of this will feel the same or look the same, but things will be felt and things will be seen. It's none of these things, but all of them and more, but only when these things are fluid and at risk of being forgotten and considered with regard to the infinite number of possibilities that await the individual.

I don't really know what or who is to blame, but this season causes my heart to swell up like that of the Grinch, and I feel myself floored by whatever it means to be alive and to learn and to fuck up and to falter and to love. I don't want to forget anything. I feel this need to write everything down before it's gone; but if I write things too fast it won't quite describe anything as it should. Perhaps it's best to process it all slowly, allowing for some of it to perhaps be forgotten (although hopefully not the sound of the hail on the roof as it awoke my childhood self in the middle of the night), if that means that those things processed and written down can be written about in the right way.

None of this was described in the right way, but at least it made me realize that these things are worth writing down someday in the right way. I hope the right day comes for remembering these things and writing them down right.

I'm sure that many of the moments that I forget were really, really beautiful. Many of those that I remember certainly were. Perhaps somebody else remembers some beautiful moment that I forget; and somebody else another, and so on. Some moments are just lost... "Like tears in rain."

Perhaps that makes life all the more precious. Life itself happens to be its own only record.


On Choosing One Path, Amongst Many Paths

I’m tired of being told that I’m flawed; that some medication or some new view of the world would make me once again a functioning component of a larger machine. I’m tired of trying to mold myself into a component of this larger machine without even knowing what the machine’s actual purpose is. I’d rather be a flawed component of a machine than a functioning one without knowing what the larger machine is meant to do. For it could very well be doing something that I would never want to be a part of, ever. I’m equally tired of the view that it’s the fault of the society around me that keeps me from being a functional and useful component. This view – this cop-out – is as tired itself as I am of it.

As children, we’re taught that we should have a purpose, and a set of goals, or even just one grandiose goal that we sacrifice all other past and potential goals for. We stop ourselves from even thinking about the other ways we could be directing our lives because the very act of thinking about these things causes us to stray from the path we’ve set ourselves on. Why? Because we are pressured to do so. Because time is scarce, and because we can’t waste it. It doesn’t seem logical that anyone chooses one particular path because it’s the best thing for that person, or because it’s their “calling”. No one with any amount of cognitive ability is able to determine what might be a better path to take than any number of other paths, simply because one’s ability to gauge his own abilities is limited; and one’s ability to guess the events that will surround his own life are even more limited. Both of these do not just contribute to an individual’s success in a particular field or pursuit, but by all means entirely dictate it.

If someone wants to truly make an impact on the world, he has to be open to the inevitable fluctuation of the circumstances around him, even if it means that he will have to revise his plans. He has to be open to being wrong. Otherwise he runs the risk of picking something that ten years down the line is so obviously irrelevant to the paradigm in which he lives that he can no longer justify taking any action to further the end that he has, for all those years, solely had in mind. Logically, the wise thing for him to do (if he really wants to have a positive effect on the world) is to be willing to shift gears if circumstances suggest that he should; but this again goes against the notion that has been ingrained in his mind: Stick to your guns and follow your dream. The subtext, and the small-print, is this: “Stick to your plans, even if your dream no longer has any bearing on the world around it.” Otherwise the individual is rendered nothing more than a willing hypocrite.

To live in a way that leaves open the possibility of this necessary changing of courses, even at the risk of this aforementioned hypocrisy, perhaps one must take care not to neglect a number of backup plans that he may have had in mind. He must avoid neglecting several things to the point where, if it so happens that he has to switch gears and start on down another path at some point (whether it be for financial reasons or because he has convinced himself or been convinced that his offerings in some field are naught), he is not yet so far behind in another field or pursuit that there is no point in changing his course and attempting to do something else.

The natural fear, then, is this: What if he has already traveled so far down one path, with such staunch determination, that in all of the other possible routes he might have taken he would have to just beginat the trail-head if he began something new at all. Then what does he do? Does he stay on the path he’s on, regardless of how irrelevant it may be and regardless of how futile he deems his efforts in that given area, or does he switch to a new path, in which he may very well have little or nothing to offer just because he has been busy pursuing something else (just because he has been wasting his time all of these years because he failed to recognize his “true calling”)?

Either way, the man will be deemed a failure, entirely because of external factors beyond his control; and additionally (what might have turned out badly has instead turned out horribly) because he has thrown himself so blindly and ardently down that former path.

The same may be said of relationships, or of a man who dives headlong into a marriage. A passion for one thing, and a determination to make that one single thing the focus of all of his time and all of his energy, may be the very thing that renders him a failure not just in that relationship but also in all of the other relationships that he might have pursued had he been viewing things a bit more clearly and not been stuck in the “wrong” relationship. But, I swear, there’s no way of knowing that might have been the right choice except in retrospect. The biggest human fear, pertaining to this, is seemingly the inevitability of realizing that one has made the wrong choice. Perhaps even worse might be the prospect of not being sure that a choice was wrong, but spending all of one’s hours just wondering whether it might have been.

Our society is not really conducive to a man who wants – who really truly wants – to maximize the degree to which he might be able to benefit the world. Thus this world breeds individuals who are forced to shut off that part of their mind that even cares whether or not they benefit the world, rendering them crude, primitive, selfish animals. Those who might have been the most passionate contributors are at risk of being rendered stagnant or tormented just as a result of having been unable to choose between multiple passions, or as a result of having decided to blindly throw themselves with all of their faculties into one thing just because they wanted to know what would happen when they truly cared about something and pursued it. What happens to those other things that these unfortunate individuals once also cared about? Is the passion for these other, conflicting pursuits redirected? Or is it just obliterated? If the latter is the case, then can these people really say that they are throwing all of themselves into their respective chosen pursuits? Isn’t it perhaps better to pursue several things with a great deal of passion than to just snuff passions for things that take time away from one chosen pursuit?

Human beings are equal parts primitive animals, acting on instinct and passion and smooth, functional mechanical components. Perhaps they are not innately these things, but they are forced to be not one but both, simultaneously. The two do not make sense with one-another, and cannot be reconciled. And yet we are given no other option. Lucky is the man who is able to be a smooth, operating component of a larger machine, by way of which he is able to understand both his purpose and his usefulness in the world, who also is able to approach the prospect of being a mechanical component with full, unfaltering and undivided passion and determination. I do not know how to be this kind of a person, and I am left with nothing but a nagging awareness of the faulty nature of that mechanical component which I embody (or those numerous mechanical components which I attempt to embody, alternately or all at once, to less of an extent than might be desirable). Time does not allow me to turn myself into a passionate, functional, interchangeable part of a larger machine, just because it is scarce. And yet the tragic point to be made with regard to this is that it is this same scarcity of time that has embedded in me a strong passion to be a determined, ardent mechanical component: Not several, but just one; and one that functions to its full capacity even if it is required of me that I sacrifice all of my other inclinations to be other parts, corresponding or conflicting. The scarcity of time has rendered me simultaneously passionate and scattered; determined and stagnant; inadequate and idealistic. Yet I can’t do anything else but spend my time trying to be a more functional part of a larger whole, even though I have no idea which part of the machine I might be best suited for, or what the function of the machine as a whole might be. I’m too busy thinking about whether or not I even want to aid in the functions of this machine to figure out which part I should be.



Most of the time, the chronological moment of an epiphany does not line up with the time at which it would be most useful. The moment of recognition either precedes or follows the time at which the knowledge could most effectively be applied to one's existence. I suppose this lends credit both to memory and to integrity, and the importance of cultivating skills in each. I only hope that I will be able, to the best of my abilities, to accurately and honestly quantify and weigh those many, many things which can't actually be quantified or weighed, yet which clearly deserve attention. Perhaps this - our inability to quantify those things which we feel the most intensely - is why we again and again try to create different devices for the measuring of things: clocks for time, scales for weight, books for record, certain gestures for certain meanings, and so on. Strangely, none of these things - time, weight, record, or literal meaning - are as important as the unmeasurable; the weightless; the undefinable. The things that I most could use some kind of an accurate scale for are those very things which resist being measured and weighed altogether. There's no way to put a mark on a wall to indicate one feeling, or another mark on the same wall to indicate another feeling. Nothing would be appropriate and nothing would do that feeling justice or clearly indicate the ways in which it is different from all other feelings. Even if there were a way, there would be no way to gauge which is superior to the other. Because of this, I think human beings flub quite a bit; but I think there's something quite beautiful in this fact. It's as if mistakes are evidence of things that can't be as easily explained by biology, and although this should be frightening it is somehow encouraging. If we don't understand everything, we're on the right track. That is, if we don't understand everything, then we still have a right to be on this track at all, because a search for understanding and meaning is noble even when it is futile. Some mistakes are caused by too much eagerness and serve as evidence to the human will. Some are evidence of laziness that exists against all logical realizations discouraging laziness. I can only hope to grow less lazy and only be eager when it is appropriate. What is it that makes us choose to remember some days over others? Some moments over others? Some feelings over others? Surely there is no equation that we could produce that would explain any of this, and yet we seem to know what matters most when we see it or feel it. Sometimes only in retrospect, and not when the knowledge is most useful, but things can't be perfect in a world that does not come equipped with demarcations.


On mind, language, trajectory, and car-wrecks

When I was a kid I used to play a game where I would walk in a straight line until I hit something - be it a wall or an obstacle of another kind - and then I would turn around at whatever angle it seemed the laws of physics would most support, as if in fact I were an object without any movement of my own but only able to be moved by the force of my impact with other objects. I would do this again and again, like a billiard ball, until I tired of the game. It would be interesting to look at language or the mind in a way that considers every concept about the world as a single trajectory, perhaps represented by a symbol, that acts very much in the same way -- that moves in a straight line, influenced by nothing, until it encounters something which changes its course (perhaps another belief about the world). Perhaps every element of language or every belief about the world has a set trajectory until it encounters another moving about on IT'S set trajectory, and then certain laws determine the way in which these two trajectories change when they hit one-another. It would be entirely formulaic, and although it would look like chaos from a distance, it would be entirely algorithmic. This seems to some extent to be how the mind works, leaving out the propensity for error that seems to (arguably) make the mind something other than algorithmic. It has - if you will forgive the oversimplification - a framework that functions in cruise control until more facts are given to it. And yet there seems to be a lot that goes on within the brain that happens not just because of the facts available to it, but in spite of them (the most obvious example of this being mistakes themselves - yet it seems that even mistakes function in a somewhat predicable manner, or at least it could be said that frequently the way we go about trying to rectify our errors is predictable, and so what we ultimately glean from those mistakes is predictable once we are aware of what the mistake is). The element of randomness seems mostly illusory, and phenomena within the brain seem inclined to function in cruise-control until they encounter other vehicles, if you will, that also are set to cruise-control. Two cars running in cruise-control still obey the laws of physics when they hit one-another, despite the fact that the resulting crash or pile-up is not as orderly as the mode of operation of each vehicle prior to the crash.


Basic Discussion of the Logical Implications found in H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" (...to be continued)

What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is the cause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. Now where were these imminent dangers?-H.G. Wells, p. 34, "The Time Machine"

The protagonist in H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine", referred to simply and trustingly as 'The Time Traveller', finds himself sitting in an ancient and decaying throne, overlooking the landscape of the planet in a distant future, and as he does so he tries to process what he has seen thus far. He has encountered only a very frail and beautiful race of beings, for which he has at this point no name or title. He sees no evidence of strife, hunger, labor, disease, or struggle. The only thing unpleasant about the world in which he finds himself is the fact that the buildings populated by this race seem to be crumbling, moulding, and falling apart. Those parts made out of bronze are coated in verdigris. Those parts made out of glass are cracked and broken. And the floors made out of blocks of metal are worn to the point of near-concave by the feet of innumerable passersby.

'The Time Traveller' postulates that the only explanation possibly applicable to the situation of this observed race is this: Human beings, over the years, have become so refined in their ability to produce food, to cure disease, and to minimize labor that disease itself has been obliterated altogether; food grows abundantly and it is unanimously edible and never poisonous; and labor is unnecessary because communism prevails and both food and drink require no effort whatsoever for their production.

The race in question, so far as he can tell by way of his limited means of communication, is idiotic and unresponsive, lacking the curiosity and antagonism that seems to be so innate in the beings of today. He postulates that a lack of danger and a lack of cause for concern has brought about a general lack of concern altogether, and a lack of ability to deal with problems. There has been virtually no demand for advanced cognitive abilities, and so the mental supplies have, over the years, diminished to almost nothingness. He suspects that he is witnessing Human Kind in its waning cycle.

This postulation, though, is interesting: Interesting in itself, of course, but also interesting insofar as the things that it logically entails. First of all, is this a biconditional? That is, if A entails B, where A is lack of demand for capability, and B is lack of capability, then does B entail A? That is, does lack of capability lead to lack of demand for capability? Certainly not, it would seem. This would be ridiculous, and would imply that the human race's inability to cure AIDS might lead to a decrease in the likelihood of AIDS outbreaks worldwide, for example. This is intuitively ridiculous and obviously false.

Furthermore, if Wells' protagonist is right, and if a lack of need for human abilities and faculties leads to a lack of ability itself and a lack of faculty itself, then what about the negation of this conditional?

That is to say, if there were an overwhelming and unmanageable demand for mental faculties (~A), then it seems that Wells' protagonist might guess that the result would be an overwhelming increase in ability and faculty (~B). That is, 'The Time Traveller' seems to be of the opinion that ~A--> ~B. This would mean that more difficult problems would result in more able minds, more capable of dealing with said problems. Surely if this occurred, the improvement would not happen overnight, but it would - by this character's reasoning - nevertheless come to be.

This is an interesting idea to think about. Our society seems to illustrate the truth of this suggested phenomenon to some degree, but it doesn't seem that there is a direct relation between the two. It seems - and I say this only based on societal observation - that, if the demand for cognitive/ problem-solving capability were to be represented by the X axis of a graph, and the degree of cognitive/ problem-solving capability of the average individual were to be represented by the Y axis of a graph, then the points would not form a straight diagonal line leaning upwards to the right, but rather a diagonal line leading upwards in this way that eventually levels out, or plateaus. That is, it seems that an increase in demand for capability at first DOES lead to an increase in ability, due to attempts of various individuals to fulfill a need that has made itself apparent, and success of these attempts, and additional attempts that are undertaken as a result of these successful attempts, etc. However, it seems that too much demand for human capabilities would not necessarily have this effect. If the need is too great, the human will does not always seem - if you will - willing. It is almost as if the demand for capability has to be just high enough to make the efforts necessary, yet just low enough to make success seem possible, in order for human beings to remain productive and improve their capabilities as a culture or even individually. I suppose that, over a period of time, if the demand were to be slowly increased, then the capabilities could perhaps keep up; yet this doesn't seem to be the way that demand for human capabilities functions. The demand is created by events of a chaotic nature: Floods create a demand for problem-solving, with regard to the economy, and disease-prevention, and housing, etc.; deadly illnesses create a demand, and there is no slow progression toward this demand, for it is immediate. The demand for human capability is never very gradual, but often sudden. The human response - that is, levels of capability and effort - is easily humbled by these huge leaps in demand, and the human beings give up if the demand is too great.

Perhaps in large numbers the blow of this 'giving up' is softened by several fringe cases of individuals who are abnormally courageous and determined - individuals who can advance an entire culture at a rate faster than usual, so as to catch up with the sudden increase in demand for capability - but so often these fringe-case individuals are ignored just because they overshadow the jealous egos of other individuals, who want to believe they are incapable of being overshadowed.

And what about this conditional, ~A--> ~B. Is it a bi-conditional? Does ~B--> ~A, where A is lack of demand for capability and B is degree of capability? That is, does an increase in degree of capability entail an increase in demand? Again, it seems that this is certainly not the case.

Unlimited demand for cognitive abilities or problem-solving abilities or production or what-have-you does not lead to an unlimited amount of response from each. Instead, limited demands for such things leads to an increase in each, because in the case of limited demand, solutions to problems are perceived to be within the realm of possibility. Only when things are deemed perhaps possible - and only when solutions are not always and immediately met with an infinite number of additional problems - do solutions seem worth attempting. Demand for solution that is too great does not encourage solution, because there is arguably no point in solving a problem that, in being solved, does little to better the state of things due to the sheer amount of other problems at hand.


Some Ponderings About Word-Use

It seems fair to say that, in contexts of conversation, we select our words based on which words we think will best express whatever it is that we are trying to say about the world. Because one of the primary goals is to communicate and organize our thoughts, not for ourselves but for the comprehension of our interlocutor, we select words from our vocabulary according to those words which we think our interlocutor will understand. Perhaps sometimes we use words that we aren't sure will be understood, but in these cases (unless the goal is self-indulgent in nature) we generally pause while speaking or after certain utterances in order to make sure that what we have said is understood. Surely we are often misunderstood, as people (I think) in general like to come across as competent, so often times it seems that the interlocutor nods his head in agreement when he thinks the speaker means one thing that turns out to be quite contrary to what the speaker actually means to convey, either because he doesn't wish to clarify or because what the speaker says can be construed in multiple says. In the conversational realm, we select our words differently than we might in another realm - perhaps one of creative expression, for example - because our audience is a specific individual or several individuals. In the creative realm, we can use whatever language we like, and our audience is something more fluid. Our audience is whoever fits the description of the person who will understand what we are saying, or glean something from what we have said. What is gleaned might be what we are intending to convey in our creative expression, or it might be something altogether different, but seeing as the goal in creative arenas is simply some kind of reaction or response (repulsion, anger, empathy, inspiration, etc.), and not a particular kind of reaction or response, the audience is in one way more limited (for only some will gain anything at all from any particular poem or bit of writing), and less limited (because what we convey can be a multitude of things).

Because of the different kinds of intentions involved in the process of writing in this creative realm, the manner of word-selection seems altogether different. Words are chosen not because they represent a kind of common ground or understanding between two people, but because they represent a kind of common ground between the writer and an experience, or the writer and the world: one that a reader may or may not relate to or gain anything from. The writer in this realm generally doesn't care whether a specific or particular individual understands him, but he may hope that SOMEONE does. Whomever this may be perhaps doesn't matter. In fact, the knowledge that someone - whomever it may be - understands or possibly understands some variant of what the writer means to convey sufficiently justifies the writing. Just the CHANCE of there being some such person justifies the writing, for if that person is not around at the time a given work is written, he may be in any year in the future, and then the writing does not simply slip through fingers but lands somewhere; permeates some THING.

This act of writing in a creative way (and I don't mean just poetry or fiction, but also essays that are creative in the thoughts that they address, etc.) is creative in itself: It isn't just creative in the sense of something that is 'artsy', but in the sense that a seed is creative. It is something that can cause growth; something that cannot grow on its own; something that can cause a series of other causal entities that in turn cause growth. Furthermore, it can be creative in a way that is indeterminate to the writer himself. What grows from a thought, or from a work of poetry, is only up to the writer insofar as he is able to control the way his words are interpreted. And he can arguably only do this to a very limited extent. So the way that a writer's words are creative is just as much up to the reader as it is to the writer; likely MORE so.

None of the words that we write are born just from our interpretation of the world. None of the words we select are selected because we feel they represent the world in OUR specific way. The words we associate with given objects or references are the result of words we have previously heard associated with those objects or references. Even words used poetically or metaphorically - supposedly alloted a greater amount of abstraction from the object itself - can only be abstract within a certain realm or confined space, so long as the writer intends to be understood in a way somewhat close to the way in which he means to be understood. If a word is assigned to a concept in a way that is entirely random, without any contextual cues to indicate the reason for this assignment, the writer cannot hope to be understood in the way that he intends. Perhaps this is part of the beauty of creative word use. It allows the writer to have a personal relationship with his own writing that will be specific to his own interpretation and no one else's. But few writers seem to use words in a way that is completely inaccessible to the audience. Small steps of abstraction from literal meaning or conventional meaning can be taken, so that an eventual word use may be a complete abstraction from the original, but if this does not happen in steps, the meaning will be lost because it will be trapped in the mind of the author and the author will alone have access to the intended meaning.

Perhaps there are words that seem naturally appropriate to objects or ideas. Perhaps something about the phonetic sound of certain words seems appropriate to certain things. But it is likely impossible to even capture these words in this pure sense, because the act of even THINKING about which words may be appropriate for which ideas or objects automatically kicks off a series of associations in the mind, so that the words ultimately selected will have some correlation to the object through some causal chain of thought processes, unless the writer/ speaker intentionally tries to select words that are not intuitively appropriate, in which case the result will be forced, and the meaning inaccessible; and in these cases the words will likely have little intuitive connection to the object that the writer wishes them to designate, because they are selected specifically BECAUSE they are the least likely words to be associated with that given object. Yet even something's being the LEAST LIKELY THING to be used to reference an object or idea still gives it a relation to that object or idea. The only difference is that it is a negative relation. But seeing as human beings tend to recognize opposites, this negative relation - this word's being selected due to its lack of intuitive connection to an object - might still be recognized as a connection to that object (the connection being just that it is something quite opposite or far removed from that thing); and thus it might be more intuitively associated with that object in being so FAR REMOVED from that object than some word nearer in proximity of intuitive association might be. That is, if one intended to say a word in order to poetically speak of an object, the most cryptic word he could possibly select would likely not be one connoting something directly OPPOSITE from the more likely word-candidates for that object; but rather one connoting something SOMEWHAT intuitively appropriate to that object, but somehow not entirely.

The act of thinking about what words we are using necessarily affects our choice of words. The act of considering our audience necessarily affects our choice of words. It is difficult to use words to denote objects in a way that is a pure representation of the unique way that we perceive an object, for in the very act of cognizing a word we are considering our audience or our ability to be understood, even if it is just ourself whose ability to understand that we are most concerned with.

Let's say we take it upon ourselves to think up a number of words most appropriate to describe a color, and let's say we wish to do so in a new and innovative way, so that we might say something specific about our personal relationship to that color. Simply KNOWING that there are particular KINDS of words generally associated with a given color (such as the names of crayons, etc.) automatically affects the kinds of words we will select. Even if they are new words that are not conventionally associated with that color, they will likely have either categorical semblance to those words, or they will be indicative of a conscious attempt to AVOID such categories as those words most often associated with that color might generally fit into. In selecting words outside of such categories, we are still selecting words based on categories containing words often associated with a given color, and so our description of that color will still be influenced by other speakers' past descriptions of that color. It seems that only by way of making mistakes, in a legitimately accidental manner, can we describe things in ways that are entirely removed from convention; and yet if it is accidental then it could be argued that we are not selecting our words based on the object at all. If the chosen word is chosen as the result of a mistake, then it seems we must have in mind a false conception of the object (e.g., color) in question, and we are not talking about that THING at all.

Does our being conscious of our own language use cause us to use words that are more appropriate to a given object, or less appropriate? Does it depend on our audience? In which cases do we choose words because they conform and may then be better understood, as opposed to those cases in which we choose words that are less conventional because we want to say something new? How far in abstraction can we go, with regard to word selection, without rendering ourselves incapable of talking about the object/thing in question altogether? Language use is inherently a self-conscious activity. We cannot be random in our use of words unless we are not conscious of the objects that we are talking about. Even attempts at random word-use will be anything but random. Calculated randomness is just as algorithmic as intentionally orderly word-selection.

Do our errors in speech enable us, over time (by way of causality, from one speaker to another and so on down the line) to say things that are more true about the world, or less true? In making errors, are we speaking more intuitively about the world, or are we broadening the gap between what we say and what we mean? Are all words equally appropriate in their application to given objects? Does the appropriateness depend entirely upon the audience, speaker, interlocutors, etc.?

Changes in language and word-use often result from mistakes in translation and mistakes in understanding (and the resulting misuse of words). Does this make language resemble objects less, or more so, or to the same degree no matter what? What about the association of objects to other objects, as with metaphor? What about our association of KINDS of words with other KINDS of words? What effect does our self-consciousness in use of language have, with regard to our ability to convey something resembling our meaning? Do our words ever diverge from our meaning to a GREATER degree, or is this divergence impossible, because of this aforementioned self-consciousness in our use of the words?