On my way to the train station the Uber ride was beginning to lull me into a trance. The driver was talking but I’m not exactly sure what he was saying and he stopped. I let go of my mantra and against my better judgement I began to think.
What makes me tick? What makes me strong? What makes me sick? What makes me right? What makes me wrong? What gets me stuck? What gets me going? Putting one foot in front of the other until I find my way. What makes me worry and run for cover? Closing my heart to discovery instead of opening up my mind to whatever is waiting. My true self is still a true mystery after all these years. It’s hard to believe that it always comes back to that basic question. I know my name and what I like and don’t like. I know what brings me joy and brings me sadness, but who am I? Who am I? Why am I here?
After finding out my train was going to be late I tried to get comfortable on the wooden benches at 30th Street Station. A homeless man approached me and asked for money. I didn’t have much but I gave him a dollar anyway. I guess that wasn’t enough because he then proceeded to ask for a cigarette. I told him I didn’t smoke. He went away grumbling something about me being cheap. Laughing to myself, I half surrender, because my brother always tells me I’m cheap. I don’t necessarily agree with him, it’s not that I’m cheap, I just never have much money. I tried turning my attention to my breath and began repeating my mantra but it just wasn’t working for me today. My thinking continued and continued and continued ad nauseum. Mantra be damned.
I want to be happy-go-lucky, care free instead of stressing about one thing or another. Feeling good about myself, my life, my world is a luxury that is more often fleeting than not.
I’m not as good as a saint, not as bright as a genius but I feel there is something inside that wants to be, needs to be, expressed. Something worthwhile to be spoken or written, painted or composed. I wish I could write a symphony. It would be a glorious piece starting with low bass drums rumbling through half then quarter notes and joined by a brooding group of contra basses finally the tension being relieved by a swelling chorus of cellos, violas, and violins answered by French horns and trumpets into a rousing crescendo telling the trials and tribulations of a minor Greek god, named something like Titaneous, seeking his rightful place among the stars. I can hear it but I can’t write it so it goes unwritten and Titaneous is forgotten to history.
I try to bring myself back to my mantra but I have to pay attention to the announcements to see if my train is to arrive soon or will be delayed even longer.
I’ve lived a great life but somehow I still feel incomplete and no matter what I do, what I accomplish, this void remains unfilled. I read some philosophy books in my younger days that made it clear that part of the human condition is feeling incomplete and insecure. That no matter how good things are, there can be a deep feeling that something awful is about to happen or that something is missing. I think some try to fill the void with work or play, god, money, drugs, booze, books, music, art, a crusade against the left, a crusade against the right. Insert your own void filling pursuit, but all are in vain because of the way we are wired. We are wired among other things, for self preservation. The big fish eat the little fish. The strongest caveman gets the most food, the most desirable mate, and so on and so on. Is this all true? If so, how have things changed. Powerful armies stood ready when democracy was born in ancient Greece. I have it so good that my pressing questions are “who am I”, “why am I” instead of “what can I eat”, “where can I sleep”. There were probably no alarm companies monitoring caves during the Neanderthal Age but maybe there were alarms. Dogs? Bats? I don’t know.
But…”Who am I” “Why am I here”? Maybe what I do defines who I am. Maybe what I do is determined by “why I am here”.
Maybe the only truly noble pursuit is in helping our fellow humans in whatever way that we can. I am much too selfish and self centered to devote my life to others, but deep down I feel that is the right thing to do. Like many people, I am just a couple of paychecks away from a cardboard box home on the sidewalk. So I work, making sure the money keeps coming and I keep the city steam vents at bay.
Work may be our lone salvation. Finding something to do that you love and doing it will hopefully provide a sufficient income to keep a roof over your head, the pantry stocked the bills paid and if you are very lucky a little left over for retirement and some fun. Sounds simple but it is not always as easy as seems at least not for some.
This is is where I say I have had a good life and am even spoiled by my circumstances, because even though I may not love my job as much as I would like to some people spend.. …..to be continued….