So God becomes escapable
And the water is black
The springs and pools polluted
Will be drained and sold back
Through divinity’s hands
It was a well devised plan
To steal is fine as long
As you’re a company man
Thinking about a presumptive future as a human being in the 21st century United States of America, there isn’t a lot I want to obtain from the reality in which we find ourselves. Being a man in his near mid-30s is enough to deduce certain things, what he wants but especially what he does not want. I don’t want to wield power.
I don’t want to preach a dogma. I don’t want to train dolphins. I don’t want to be a member of any club. I don’t want to be clench fisted.
I want to know better. But I don’t want to gloat. I want to see deeper. But I don’t want to offend. I want to be seen and be heard without a soap box. I want to live and let live and be at peace. There is nothing I want to own I don’t have, even as I spend. But nothing I might buy is out of step with who I am. In any case, the future, as it were, was probably decided before I was born. So I try to be well in my concept.
I do know at least what I am currently doing. Being in my 30s and finishing what amounts to a complex child’s game of scritches and scratches, checking down a list of requirements to get a degree at all, and living through a year online and a year in person at UMass-Amherst, where I never felt comfortable, has lead me to now, graduating with honors with a collection of good examples of why I have confidence in my writing. I never got less than a B+ on anything I ever turned in in an English class. I know what I’m doing. But alas, I also very much don’t.
I don’t know how to get published. I don’t know how to get read. I don’t know how to get listened to. And I don’t know how to get paid. These are major problems in the life of someone with a whole lot of work behind him who knows how to make something halfway decent. I know now, for sure, that I will always finish what I start. Honestly, that’s the theme of my coming back to college. I was going to come back with a vengeance and steal the show. Maybe I did sometimes.
Which brings us to the stanza that began this essay, a verse from the only song I wrote in 2020, a portion of a thirteen minute epic, a verse that spells out part of what I know I do not want. I don’t want to make my money from any kind of theft. I am pleased to relay that where I work now – Bedlam Book Cafe in the Canal District in Worcester – is against that whole mentality. I like my job already, and I’ve worked there three days. It’s a beautiful piece of sanity amidst an entire world that is bursting at the seams. The spirit of the independent bookstore runs congruent with my own desire to be in total control of my output. Accepting that I must work a day job to keep writing and making music, Bedlam is a very nice place to do so. A glance at the shelves shows the overarching desire of the owners to provide an intellectual space to gather and support the community, which is where my thoughts lay – good literature represents the will of the people. Especially when they realize it.
Baseball is another thing, separate from my work, that I know well about my present and future in love with life in my way, mostly at least believing in the whole concept of the thing. Baseball is an appropriate metric. It is representative of life as it is meant to be. A world where we get to do the things we do contrasts with one where other people are bombed to smithereens or ruled out of existence, products of literal genocide or the adamant forgone conclusion. I do not and will never understand world politics and I want nothing to do with them. There’s just so much brawn. I don’t want to be under the thumb of a corporation or government that seeks to push down most to a collapsed livelihood within a fascist economy. Yet the broad reality of this has nothing to do with my daily life. I do nothing. I read. I write. I eat. I walk. I smoke cigarettes. And I get by. Indeed with the help of the government I often loathe. I live in a place where I am safe, in an apartment so big, three more people could live here. What an existence. Really, I am confused by it.
Baseball, though. It succeeds. It is life played out on a field. It is the beauty of knowledge and the wisdom of the ages. Baseball doesn’t know what time it is or what happened last at bat. Yet baseball is a timepiece ticking on throughout most of the year. Baseball is a game where millimeters mean miles and instinct spells success. Baseball is the kind of thing witnessed where any single thing can happen; the unbelievable occurs nightly. What a wonderful sport. What day in day out pleasure. I watch baseball almost every day for 7 months. It is life as a witness to the outstanding. It is a flourish of the infinite. I am lost without it. But that isn’t the culmination, I realize.
Where all of this intersects is where all things sacred are experienced as such. I see no better game than baseball. I see no greater harm than to play into the system we find ourselves. The world stage is a gross exaggeration when it isn’t baseball. Even other sports carry with them a type of violence insistent on itself. Baseball might erupt into a fight. Punches may be thrown. But the core of baseball is avoiding each other. The strike thrown, the doubles knocked into the gaps, the home runs saluted. The best things about such a part of life can be seen well from the upper deck, and the cheap seats are the soul of the stadium. We are all meant for baseball. It is machismo that distracts us. Bat flips are no bombs dropped. And trash talk is no legislated selfishness. I wonder why the powerful can’t simply peer between the chalk lines. Their hearts so often seem tuned to a field of indifference.
So what should we have at our attention, really? I guess I don’t know. There are things I like and things I despise and I am narcissistic enough to think everyone else should think the same way I do. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole lot about life that I understand to a greater degree than some. I’ve walked thousands of miles. I have lived on the streets, homeless, pacing around Portland, asking for little but some conversation and maybe a shared smoke. I have spent time in institutions that treat their entwined with about as much respect as you’d think. I have lived as an outspoken voice for everything decent, describing what is against Us as wholly without the kind of truth one might call God. I have wandered around my mind enough to be able to tell you some truth. And the more I think about certain things, the more I am convinced that the only thing missing from the society we live in is an interest in each other’s evitable contexts. Certainly I rarely join a crowd outside fandom. But I also want to feel a connection. And not just to say so.
Who knows. What a life. What a strange thing to come back to school at 30, graduate at 33, and start work again at a Used Book store, fighting the good fight, writing and writing, looking still for a plan beyond knowing well the specifics of desire. Society is at best a thing participated in; at worst a product sold back to you. At most a game out of dirt and into the grass, growing. Sometimes a trap, like the water stolen and bottled back to you, three bucks and a wonder how’d they do it.
It’s clear to me that I don’t want certain aspects of life to be a part of mine. I don’t want to try so hard I snap in half. I want to be willing to do whatever it takes, but when whatever it takes is too much, I want the freedom to scale back and tune in. To baseball. To writing. To reading. To music. I want to make money when I can and sacrifice bunt when it’s not my turn to swing away.
I want to live rightly and explain myself when I can.
I want to stay hydrated. But I don’t want to steal the water.