The sun and the sound of digital vibraphones had me up at 5:30 this morning. I went for a run.
The first two miles carve uphill; actually, up “The Hill” in Boulder. I think about all my time spent here as a college kid, finding myself, suffering, learning things. I pass a fellow early-bird on her downhill glow, the one you earn after pushing, heaving, stammering into an incline. She waves. I nod, then wave back. There’s something ethereal about the nonverbal exchange between two runners. You just know what they are; their soul is naked and wrapped around their paining body.
I think about my next adventure: moving away, returning to school, learning more things. I struggle to fathom it. The funny thing about knowledge, I feel, is that the more I learn, the less I know. My fear in beginning the next six years of academia is not the possibility of failure. Rather, upon being exalted as a “Doctor of Philosophy”, I fear self-identifying more a charlatan than a master of anything at all.
So to combat the paradox, all day, I’ve been thinking about the things I know. The things I’ve learned. The certainties of my experience of life as a human, so far, on my journey towards the enlightenment of death. I want to share.
Let’s start small.
I’ve learned that most folks are self-conscious about someone touching their feet. That sometimes holding someones toes is more intimate than having sex with them.
I’ve learned that mixing long noodles, like spaghetti, with short noodles, like penne, could be enough to ruin a meal.
I’ve learned that it is imperative to brush your teeth after drinking your orange juice.
I’ve learned that it is thoroughly satisfying to do the wrong thing. This must be moderated.
That sometimes a self-destructive outlet is more effective than a positive one. That cigarettes, marijuana, gin, junk food, ecstasy, pornography, shitty television, gossip, narcissism, one-night stands, Texas Hold-‘Em, the word “fuck”, and the middle finger are cathartic, necessary, and elegant anomalies of humankind.
I’ve learned that with any sort of oratory skill, a child will believe anything you say. I’ve learned that this can be used to great advantage, moralistic or otherwise.
That any feeling you ever have is valid. That every feeling needs not be justified, nor fought, but simply felt.
And, in addition, that nobody deserves calamity for feeling anything at all. Even if it kills you.
That both falling in love, and out of love, are out of everyone’s control. Always.
I’ve learned that wanting happiness for someone may sometimes only be possible at the martyrdom of your own. That accepting this is met with dire resistance and difficulty.
I’ve learned that everybody wants something from you. That both the stranger on the bus and the mother of your children need something that you cannot give. That knowing this alone is impossibly exhausting.
I’ve learned that everybody in your life believes they know what’s best for you. That, inversely, nobody knows what’s best for themselves.
I’ve learned that if you love someone, you must write them a letter.
I’ve learned that sexual tension is always felt by both parties.
I’ve learned that there are guidelines to breaking up. That the fate of your happiness is built in these rituals. That you don’t really know how to do it right until you fuck it up completely.
I’ve learned that you will always love everyone you date, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, what your parents think, what your mind thinks, in spite of yourself, your current lover, your broken heart, your future, your past.
I’ve learned that everyone wishes they knew something they know now when discussing things that have happened to them. That those words verbatim usually accompany a sad story.
I’ve learned that everybody knows exactly half of the lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believing.” That even if you loathe the song to the core of your bones, you will smile when an entire room lights up to the sound of that intro piano riff.
That you are now thinking about that intro piano riff. About that small town girl.
I’ve learned that the person you love to death will, one day, be dead. That thought alone is enough to forgive anyone.
That that thought alone is enough to be nice. And be happy. And show compassion and empathy and understanding.
I’ve learned that something new will happen to you every time you go outside.
That almost everything is better when you exercise.
That riding a bike is preserving an inherent innocence and does wonders for your hair.
That iced coffee is liquid treasure.
That people look their best while laughing.
That someone is better for knowing you,
That “Frederick” is truly a terrible name.
That today will never happen again.
And finally, that I’ll never, ever, ever, know why we’re all here.
But we are.
And that’s enough to keep going.