Here I am.
Certain that this is it. The middle part of my life has arrived.
Thick with life, and fat with the juice of the past.
Choked with the present, stuffed to the gills, awash, in thrall.
I do not know how to adequately describe this present moment.
Maybe a scene on a beach, amid a storm, when nothing moves on the sand but the pounding waves.
Or a narrow creek that finds itself swollen over its banks, and everything conceivable runs through it at horrible speeds, but nothing living can be found or seen.
Something like that, is this. Like a balloon open at both ends, but still so full it is about to burst. That is now, this is that.
The moment fills my mouth, stuffs my ears, swarms my eyes, flattens my mind, shortens my reach.
The moment is all, this being, can digest.
Occasional thoughts stray, beyond the immediacy of NOW, their ends like hurt nerves report back of horizons once attainable, now distant over oceans of time and needs that shall not be crossed. NOW forms my shores, NOW circumscribes me like the second encompasses a flicker of my eyelashes, or my carcass defines the span of my breath. NOW presses down on me with greater force than gravity, or the order of day and night. This is now, and Now is all this is.
Tomorrow too, when it comes, Now will be. Like this one, but then. It is greater than I am. Spanning more than a lifetime. Defining the very arc of humanity. This NOW feels like the end of my rope, the extent of my leash. The new normal, the inevitable consequence this whole life was leading up to – as implacable an outcome as the mill upon which countless generations of Man have cast themselves in with the grist, and become dust in the grinding maw of time. NOW this is life. And in it there is no real room to breathe, or to ponder, to wander or to spare. NOW there is no room for art. For me. For anything but the merest shell of who this is, or might have been. Like an insect drained from the inside out, NOW consumes without killing.. too fast.
Maybe this is a chrysalis. Maybe this is the way things seem when matter in one state is about to phase into another. Maybe this is what death feels like. Maybe this is just one death among many. Maybe these are the convoluted dark alleys of Maya. Maybe this is the banality of life. Maybe this is the ordinary. Maybe this is a reflection of matter alone, and not spirit. Maybe this is defeat. Maybe this is the way it must be, for now to become then, this to turn into that, for one thing to pass and another to arrive. Maybe, this is simply the way things are, when we don’t succeed in making them into the things we wish them to be. Maybe this hurtling of life into the mundane tasks of being here, NOW, is simply one way of separating mind from matter, purpose from task, spirit from flesh, soul from dirt. Maybe all we need is to experience discomfort and discontent, and from those draw the fortitude to forge ahead, broadening horizons for ourselves and those who follow us. Maybe this is alright, just as it should be.
I can say this – suffering is optional.
Living and dying on the grindstone of obligation and necessity may be a totally adequate reality, but suffering in that position, is optional.
My moment of escape from the crushing urgencies of the present environment is over.
I must return and attend to the needs of the NOW, or fear the consequences of inattention and absence – like falling down a long slope of the interminable mountain i’m fated to climb – it just means retracing lost ground, expending precious time where it was already spent, losing more of myself into the nameless abyss of work. Plod ahead, you grudging draught animal, or you will be whipped and starved, and told to do more with less, until the cycle ends in its inevitable consequence. You will be a moist spot under roots, which some other poor lurch must mow with redoubled vigor rather than spend his time practicing living, rather than toiling.