There are many things in the world I do not understand. There are not many things—at least in the once upon a time days—that I can not or will not understand. There is a vastness of bitter, bitter space between ability and desire.

Ability and Desire. Two things that have never been two separate things within me. Failure to do or failure to win or failure to achieve are old, old friends and I still know them well and recall them with fidelity.

Debussy plays now, now past Syrinx where the notes trickle and drop, falling off the edge of the world. Lost forever. He can’t bring them back, won’t bring them back, so he brings more notes. New ones to replace the goners. I have the music set to play from a Mac mini to multiple rooms in the house as an ersatz tune I carry ersatzly in my ersatz head.

And now comes a waltz. A slow one (La plue que lente), at that. Waltzes are my favorite. The only form of music where the dance paints the notes instead of the other way around. Feet do not land in the land of waltzing, instead forgetting to fall, or having lost the ability to fall. Each measure in a waltz has lost its last note and makes due by gliding forward, ever forward.

What has happened to the engine that has driven me forward-ever-forward for these nearly 43 years? It’s lost. Hidden, at least. Camouflaged by the upward and enveloping drip drip drip of pain and noise, rhythmic and random, respectively. I cannot glide and it feels like my life depends on this very ability.

Ability and Desire.

Who I am is not who I was. This is the way of things. We get older, we suffer joys and champion crises, we choose or refuse. We grow and die-back. We gain and we lose.

All so gradual, the diminishing years we have ahead of us and the growing years behind us, according to the calendar’s math. Its numbers are unassailable, exact. But? I used to think, “also simple. Too simple.”

I could say I’ve lost my way. I could say that even being stalled in backwaters and eddies can have purposiveness applied: the Learning Experience. But who can learn anything when one has the desire but lacks the ability to deeply focus, afflicted with a sort of mental claudication?

Ability and Desire.

Once I was able to have so many threads of thought in my grasp that a simple flick of the wrist would generate solutions to so varied a set of situations that I was almost prescient. Today, the ongoing pink noise of pain in my head often makes me forget to hold on to a single thread at a time, and off! off goes the balloon to which it was attached. Another it-thing lost.

Ability and Desire.

Maybe that’s just Cole Porter talking. Maybe it’s John Barrowman singing Porter. Or singing Sondheim. Maybe the 3:30-odd-minute song is the right sized portion for me. Maybe John Barrowman singing “Being Alive” properly tapes out the distance between Ability and Desire right now in a masturbatory way:

Someone to need you too much
Someone to know you too well
Someone to pull you up short
And put you through hell
And give you support for being alive - being alive
Make me alive, make me confused
Mock me with praise, let me be used
Vary my days, but alone is alone, not alive.

The Someone in the song is I. It is a grotesque and maudlin coincidence that there was just over a minute left in St. Valentine’s Day 2007 when I started this entry. Nothing more.

Ability and Desire.

What I wish to be able to do…throw the levers and crank the cranks of my brain to entertain, demure, self-exculpate, self-aggrandize, self-abnegate, self-identify…are not within my reach, much less my grasp.

What of my livelihood? And what to do without one?

It was, back in the day (pre August 2006), so easy to poke holes in much-vaunted (or at least much-attended-to) philosophies like nihilism (the self exists to question its own existence) or existentialism (the snake is swallowing its own tail and lives to tell the tale) or even Objectivism (Axiom #1: Thou shalt not accept axioms!) because the self remained intact and robust when compassing so many inner worlds.

In those better times, my unifying philosophy: it’s turtles, turtles, all the way down.

I can’t see any of those turtles any more, philosophies fail me and I am afraid.

What do you do when you can’t do what makes you you?

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That Time of the 2nd Month Again

It’s that time of the year again, chil’ren, and I don’t mean Valentine’s Day (in sad fact, it had completely slipped my mind that today was that day). No, what I’m talking about is IBR, or the International Bear Rendezvous.

I kid the bears, I chastise them, castigate them, praise them (they have their moments), embraced them (we’ve had our moments), pointed and laughed at them, been horrified (hairified?) by them, been…well, you get the picture. Pick a verb and, in horseshoe/grenade fashion, it’ll probably be “close enough” to true at some point.

This is usually the time when I go in for my annual Nair® full-body dip. It’s murder on the scrotum, but so’s wrongful complicity.

Or rather, I would be on my way to my appointment at the Little Ark dog grooming shop (they refit a fleadip tank just for me) except for something my 나물 닥터 (Korean Herb Doctor) said to me last week as she was shaving parts of my back so that the 불 단지 (Fire Jars/cupping) would form a seal and keep suction. She said, “All your food, all your nutrition! It go to brains and growing hair!” Then she laughed and showed me a new straight razor with an expression that said, “you wore out the old one!”

I told her that since she had a new razor, to just go ahead and shave it all, not just where she needed to for the 불 단지. Why? Because I never really cared for the look.

“But it’s you,” she said, in a tone that—not seeing her face as I was face down on the table—conjured up a number of quite flattering (if also embarrassingly stereotypical) thoughts of Ancient Wisdom Being Passed Down. “Besides, it keep you warm in winter! No need for jacket!” And she laughed and laughed.

Since then, she’s prepared lunch for her and me after every appointment. My favorite is still the rice and kimchi porridge with anchovies and mungbean sprouts, along with a generous portion of her home-made kimchi (lots of garlic!).

I have discovered that if you are a ‘bear’, then be one. But don’t try to be more of one than you are, or less of one, for that matter. And remember that ‘bear’ is just a word and words are but labels and labels only phages for carrying memes outside of your mind and, inversely, bringing them into your mind. They are not you.

People who inhabit labels. Those are the ones that piss me off. That’s one of the frighteningly-few differences between a gathering and a mob: a gathering is a collection of individuals. The mob personifies the label.

So, IBR? A gathering or a mob? Neither! A rendezvous! Or a Vichy Rendezvous?

Let that, gentle readers, give you paws.

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