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So, says Ferris Bueller.
And, he should know. I mean, he is a fictional character and all. No one uses time wiser than a fictional character. While we may or may not approve of how they spend their time ~ I do think we can agree that they do spend it. They don’t save it for a rainy day. Or, think that tomorrow is a better day for this or that.
Fictional characters are aware that the end is in sight. Most of us are oblivious. We spend each day as if we have a bunch of them locked up tight in Fort Knox. As if, when we waste time, we are somehow booking it.
It seems to me if we want to see how we are living our life ~ IF we are living our life ~ we should look at how we spent an hour ago.
I need to do that more often. I am very big on “not yet.”
(enter red-headed Annie belting “Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow! You’re always a day away!”)
It seems to me that even wasting a second of this life can be tragic. Just as a beach is made up of tiny grains of sand ~ our lives are made up of seconds. Can you imagine a beach with only a few grains of sand? Or, a life with millions of seconds missing?
I’m sad to say that I’ve wasted my share of time in this life. But, not as much as some might think. Specifically, every man I’ve ever been with ~ the consensus being that I “think too much.”
I disagree. I don’t think that pondering is a waste of time. I’m a writer ~ that’s what we do. We put ourselves in a space that feels uncomfortable to see what rises. This leads to questions and then more pondering. To muse about this life isn’t a waste of time to me.
But, I get their point. I probably do live in my head more than I should. Though, I also share residence with my heart. I’m not sure which I consider to be my home away from home. I like to think that there is a little of me in both places at all times.
Yet, I do still waste time doing things that I do not want to do. And, I’m sitting here thinking that the things we experience in this life have a lot to do with who we are.
So, if we spend more time than not doing things we don’t want to do, what does that say about who we are? Who we want to be? What we could be if we had the balls to just do what we want when we want.
I’ve spent a lot of time helping my boss instead of doing what truly matters to me. Time I wish I could take back. But, I can’t ~ because there is no lost and found for time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
We all think it’s sad when someone commits suicide. Yet, we have no problem committing a slow suicide. Throwing life away.
Piece by piece.
Drop by drop.
Moment by moment.
Every day is like a virgin and an old crone. And, each of us should live it as if it’s our first or our last.
Which, we’ve all heard before. You know ~ live each day as if it were your last (or today is the first day of the rest of your life). But, how do you do that? Especially, when so many of us spend time fearing the end of our lives. When in fact what should really scare the hell out of us is a life that never begins.
And, really, fear of death is only another way of saying that you’re afraid of life. While we are all asking what happens to us after we die and if there is life after death ~ we might want to consider if there is life BEFORE death?
Maybe all any of us can do is hope for the right regrets on our deathbed. We will all have them ~ so figuring out what they will be now is probably a good idea. I mean, life can only be authentic if we know what really matters to us. And, you need to know that to change your life for the better. And, the truth is that to change your life, you have to do it now. Not tomorrow. Now. And, with passion.
I think the thing that holds most of us back from change is fear. Fear of playing the fool. The joke is that we’re all fools whether we live our life to the fullest or not. As Sarte says “Everything has been figured out EXCEPT how to live.” And, as hard as we try to plan life, we should know by now that all any of us can really do is just be open to it.
And, fuck special occasions.
Life is not a parade of glittery one night stands. Life itself is the momentous occasion. Every time. All the time.
So, what about regrets?
If “now” were a molotov cocktail crashing through my window at this very moment, what would I regret most?
Never having had a deep authentic sexual relationship with a man that profoundly challenged my soul.
(And, I’m going to let that revelation just sit where it is as I have no bloody idea how to end this essay now ~ the desire to erase it far overwhelms the desire to expound on it at the moment. So, I’ll opt for neither).
I know that conventional wisdom says that using swear words are a sign of a bad vocabulary and a stunted imagination.
Yet, I do have a decent vocabulary.
And, an extraordinary imagination.
But, I still do say “fuck” more than I probably should.
Specifically, since I started working at my current place of employment ~ I have developed a bit of a “potty mouth.” Though, you probably would too ~ if you were subjected to the low-levels of synapses firing in those around you on a daily basis.
I just checked and I have used the word fuck in over 20 blogs. I was actually surprised it was that few. I had the sense that I used it in almost every essay. Though, I do stop myself sometimes. I had one blog where I used the word fuck 20 times. It sort of loses its punch at that point.
And, I know I shouldn’t use the word so much ~ but honestly, it sometimes makes the sentence.
For example, when I was recently writing about my brother bringing home stuff that had gone up in flames ~ from houses that had burned down. Well, it just was not as accurate to say that “the place smelled like a chimney.” It was more to the point to say that “the place smelled like a fucking chimney.”
If you had smelled it ~ you would have used the “F” word too.
I’ve never understood what the big taboo is with using certain words. It’s okay to talk about hurting others and to show images of hurting others, but god-forbid if someone should say shit or fuck.
My mom told me once that the word “fuck” is Norwegian in origin. So, it’s possible that this word is just in my DNA. Though, my mom never heard her parents swear growing up.
In fact, even when my grandparents heard the word shouted at a party that my mom threw as a teenager, the word didn’t register. Some guy that wasn’t invited to the party crashed it and started behaving like an asshole (Exhibit A of why he wasn’t invited in the first place). Anyway, this guy ended up outside, in the middle of the street, shouting “fuck you” over and over again. My mom was mortified. Her parents were sleeping, but she was certain they had heard the whole thing. The next morning, my grandmother asked my mom why someone was yelling about a “vacuum.” The relief that washed over my mom can only be described as the sweet surprise of a death row pardon.
As a kid, I heard swearing now and then. I remember using the word “fuck” for the first time when I was in elementary school. Third grade, I think. Obviously, I heard an adult say it. Though, I have no memory of who it was. Maybe, it was in a movie. My mom did allow me to see adult movies when I was a little girl. I mean, movies made for adults, not pornography. Movies like The Exorcist, Harold & Maude, and The Godfather.
It could also have been from my mom’s library (she let me read whatever I wanted). I remember reading quite a few silent movie star biographies that exposed a lot of sex, drugs, and assorted scandals. So, I may have read the word before I ever heard it.
I knew it was a naughty word. I knew I wasn’t supposed to say it. But, I also knew it was just a word. And, even at that young age, I wasn’t going to allow anyone to tell me I couldn’t say a word. Though, I did have the common sense not to use it at school or in front of adults. The first time I used it was in front of my house with a friend. I used it in casual conversation. I do remember after saying the word for the first time, feeling compelled to look about to make sure that the sky wasn’t about to fall in on me.
So, I just shrugged my shoulders and probably didn’t say it again until I was a teenager.
I do remember the first time I heard my dad say the word. It felt like a slap in the face. He said to me, and I do quote, “Why don’t you ever fucking talk?”
It really hurt my feelings. Considering, the real reason I wasn’t talking ~ I felt inauthentic for not telling him how I really felt about what he had done to my mom. Of course, I didn’t realize at that young age what he had done to me.
So, why do we swear? And, how do we choose which swear word to use?
We all have a favorite.
Mine is obviously “fuck.” I just like the way it sounds. It isn’t a word that exactly rolls off the tongue. But, it has personality. It’s sort of an all-purpose word like “dude.” It can translate dismay, anger, or passion ~ depending on your state of mind. And, it can be quite funny if used in just the right conglomeration of words.
Now, we all have a wide variety of swear words to choose from ~ ranging from the sexual, blasphemous, racist, sexist, animalistic, ancestral, and just plain vulgar. They run from the mildly offensive to extremely off-the-charts obscene.
Do the words we use depend on the company we keep? I’m sure we wouldn’t use the same language with our boss that we would with our friends, right?
Well, except me.
I have used the word “vagina” in conversing with my boss ~ as in “You probably wouldn’t say that to me if I didn’t have a vagina.”
Like when he used to randomly throw “blowjob” into the middle of sentences when speaking to me.
(I’m not kidding)
I have considered wearing a strap-on when discussing something serious with him. More times than I can count, I have tried to clue him in on something really important ~ only to hear him tell me that I must be making it all up. And, then someone with a penis will tell him the exact same thing and he’ll declare it to be a pertinent piece of information. The turnabout can transpire in as little as five minutes.
I’ve clocked it.
Anyway ~ I’ve always thought that how we focus on a few select words as “bad” is, well, sort of silly. I could say “daffodils” and mean “fuck.”
So, is it the actual words that bother us so much or is it the sentiment behind the words?
I mean, virtually everyone swears ~ from the moment we are able to form sentences to the day we die. My brother called my mom “a big purple ape” when he was three. I would say this qualifies as swearing. He was upset and these were the words he chose to express it. However, cute his phrasing was ~ he was actually saying “hey mom, fuck you!”
Swearing is something we all have in common. Even if you never utter the word “fuck” ~ you do swear. You just pick your expletives so as to be able to say that you don’t swear like some certain vulgar people.
(that would be me)
But, trust me, you do swear.
And, even if you never utter the word “fuck” ~ I’ll bet your “not-giving-a-fuck” meter has been up and running more times than you can count.
And, really, which is worse? Saying the word “fuck” or not giving a fuck?
I say the fucking latter.
. . . will set you free.
Or, so they say.
I say that we are all looking for something.
Something, that we already possess.
We look here.
We look there.
We look everywhere.
Everywhere ~ except at the thing we want. Which, is probably the reason we haven’t found it yet.
I’m sure that anyone that takes their own life or that of another knows the truth. They are sure of it. But, that’s the thing about being sure about anything ~ it’s very seldom that there is any such thing.
Rarely, does absolute truth belong to any one of us. It’s usually dressed in camouflage. And, it’s usually a little flawed.
Yet, we want it.
We need it.
We’ve got to have it.
If we aren’t clinging to it or using it as a shield ~ we are hunting it down or giving it an extreme make-over.
Though, I wonder ~ do any of us really know what the hell it is? This mysterious and elusive thing called the truth.
In its simplest terms, is it just our need to not be deceived?
And, what do we call the truth before it becomes the truth? How many hurdles does any truth have to jump over before it becomes self-evident?
Are some truths, no matter how true they are, unable to handle the ridicule and opposition?
Or, is that just us?
The truth probably has no desire to make its case. It’s too busy just being true.
Though, if we don’t see it, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Or, is it like before we meet someone special? They exist ~ we just don’t know it yet.
I believe that I seek the truth. But, how can I be sure? Would I be on such a quest if I hadn’t been taught to do so? Or, is this an innate trait that we all share?
Or, is that just a rationalization?
Can any of us know what is true for someone else? How do we figure out what is true for us? And, how exactly can any one thing be true for every single one of us?
Through all time.
It seems impossible. Though, I am struck by something else that flows through the truth. And, that is that maybe ~ just maybe ~ it’s the seeking of the truth that is just as important, if not more important, than the truth itself. Sort of like how it is said that life is a journey and not a destination.
But, what the hell does that mean?
Maybe, the only truth to discover is what makes our heart beat faster. Maybe that is the only truth that matters.
I do find this the one thing that I want to know about everyone I meet. Because, I know for myself that there are things that do make my heart beat faster.
And, I don’t know why.
Maybe, it’s a clue.
An arrow pointing “over there.”
For example, when I see interesting photographs. And, every time, I go to the MOPA (photographic museum) ~ my heart beats faster. I am in the moment. I’m excited.
And, I don’t know why.
It moves me. I feel alive. I feel full. I feel empty. I am completely there. I don’t think about anything else except what I am experiencing at that moment.
Maybe, it’s a recollection from another time.
I’ve often wondered about that. If great works of art are left behind as markers ~ something to remind us, so we don’t have to start all over again.
Sort, of like a post-it.
A post-it that says “Hey, remember me?”
Now, I don’t know if we live more than one life. I haven’t a clue. It’s possible. Sure. But, would that have occurred to me if someone hadn’t already mentioned it?
I don’t know.
I sometimes think, that maybe, we only live once. But, in many different forms. And, while it seems that it could be many different lives ~ it is one in the same. Just from another portal. With, fresh eyes. And, there is a part of us that is so at ease with this. As, if we have traded a blue shirt for one that is green.
Sometimes, I wonder if I might be living more lives than I can possibly imagine. Or, maybe each day is a life all its own. We string them together in our mind. But in fact, they are very much their own existence. Connected ~ yet a life all their own. And, each morning when we wake, it is all new.
And, if we could learn to let go of yesterday, we would truly experience each day as a full lifetime.
Can you imagine that?
Each and every single day ~ a full lifetime.
We would all probably have less “throw-away” days if we did that.
I’ve had too many throw away days. I’ve spent too much time doing things that didn’t move me.
Though, I do always bring something interesting to the table. The day. The way I see things has always been of interest to me. The way I question things. This has always moved me.
So, I guess in that way, I do show up.
But, back to the truth.
Is the truth something that is said or is it something that is known? If there was no writing or talking ~ would there be any need for the truth?
Would it even exist?
And, is it always beautiful? Does it have to be beautiful? And, what about lies? Can they be beautiful too? I do find that I learn more about someone from the lies they tell. What someone lies about is very telling. It is usually what they care about most.
But, in the end, I have to agree with Virginia Woolf when she said that you can’t tell the truth about others until you can tell it about yourself. I think this is the best advice for any writer. For anyone, actually. Because, all the truth that we learn in this life doesn’t really mean anything if we can’t apply it to our own life. If it doesn’t help us to get to know who we really are, what does it even matter?
It’s like the Loch Ness monster. Does it matter if he or she really exists? Maybe, in the end, it’s the search for truth that is more priceless than the truth we find ourselves swimming in.
Though, maybe the truth isn’t for everyone.
How many of us have the balls to tear ourselves away from the comfort of our certainties to seek the truth? Especially, when we are surrounded by those willing to sacrifice the truth for some sort of material or emotional advantage.
In our search for the truth, we must all be willing to lead every single one of our beliefs to its death.
Furthermore, we must resist the urge to err on the side of what isn’t true just because it’s easier. Because, even though we say that the truth shall set us free, deep down, we really believe it’s going to be hard.
So, very hard.
Though, what if the truth is like a facet of a diamond? As each of us learns what makes our heart beat faster ~ and trusts it enough to follow the path it leads us on, we each see our facet. Our truth. And, maybe a universal truth will only be revealed when every single one of us sees this for ourselves. When the entire diamond is illuminated ~ by everyone and everything.
And, in the end, this may be the only truth.
Whatever makes our heart beat faster.
Maybe, nothing else truly matters.
And, maybe the greatest enemy of this truth is what Einstein supposed ~ and that is an “unthinking respect for authority.”
I argue that not only is it the greatest enemy of truth, but also the root of every atrocity in human history.
Yet, is this the truth? Or, is it just something that seems true to me? So, I say it out loud while I try to figure it out.
Maybe, we all do that ~ keep musing out loud until we find the truth.
Then, we shut up.
Because, there is very little need to scream the truth if we see it. If we really see it. And, understand it. Maybe, that’s the key. We may see something that resembles the truth ~ yet at the same time, we don’t fully understand it. So, we keep talking about it as a surrogate for understanding.
For experiencing the truth.
For, until we feel it our bones, it isn’t any more real for us than the Tooth Fairy.
Yet, the Tooth Fairy is very real to a five year old. And, at the same time, very make-believe for the adult placing the quarter under the pillow.
Maybe, all truths are also lies ~ just as every good deed is evil to someone.
Perhaps, the only certainty in this life is that one man’s truth will always be another man’s lie.
Now, how to truly understand this is the question.
Which brings me to the only certainty in my life and that is ~ that there will always be another question to ask.
Is this my truth?
The truth is that asking questions is probably the one thing that makes my heart beat faster ~ more than any other thing. It is as much a part of my day as taking air into my lungs.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder if there is a greater truth beyond asking all of these questions. And, what if the only way to discover it is to just stop asking questions, altogether?
And, learn to take it all in with an unquestioning smile?
IMAGE: My musing of “The Death of Socrates,” Jacques-Louis David, 1787
True words aren’t beautiful, beautiful words aren’t true.
One day, I imagine painting them all . . .
A decade has passed and I still haven’t a clue what possessed me to tear out that image from Gandhi’s biography and place it into a little purple frame. It makes my heart beat a little bit faster each time I see it. What moves any of us in this life is such a mystery, isn’t it?
It seems that there are moments in each of our lives when the universe gives us an engraved invitation. Ten years ago was mine. Unfortunately, I procrastinate. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been in a hurry to do anything. Not even being born. The truth is, I was born five weeks late and I haven’t been on time since.
So, I wonder as I write this ~ well, I wonder so many things. Too many things. Will I finish what I start? What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Will I get in my own way? Will anyone even read this blog? Do I have the time to do this and also finish my other writing projects? Is it true that I probably carry around 100 things in my purse alone?
So, back to Lao Tzu . . .
True words aren’t beautiful, beautiful words aren’t true.
Why ponder such an inexpressibly profound paradox?
What’s the point, right?
For me, it’s the chance to maybe ~ just maybe ~ find myself in the presence of the most profound thought I’ll have in this life.
Will my Gandhi-inspired experiment lead the way to this amazing epiphany?
Maybe. Just, maybe.