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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