Friday, November 13, 2015

Paris, je t'aime

Two nights ago, on Armistice Day/Veteran's Day, I happened to find myself at the World Trade Center  here in New York City, at the end of a stroll from Penn Station with a friend as we talked our usual ramble that appears to define life for a couple of adequately educated, underemployed, under-ambitious lower middle class American sons-of-immigrant white boys in 2015.

It occurred to me I had never seen the pools before, the pools where the Twin Towers once stood. To see them at night proved extra striking. The sound of the waterfalls and to see the water - the element of life on this planet, rolling into what looked like, in the night, an endless void, the black. It's beautiful. Water, the Earth, and the black, the Universe. A cosmic glimpse writ small upon a spot of land on which a terrible choice was made by a small band of "intelligent" life upon their fellow human beings on a day 14 years ago.  And not just upon any spot of land, my home.

I was going to let this moment stay internal, unremarked. I had no desire to run to my computer screen or call up a social networking application on my Hitchhiker's Guide to tell the world I had thoughts. I was going to do the old fashioned thing and keep a moment to myself.

But 48 hours later I again see human madness. Like that day 14 years ago in New York. Like in London, Madrid, Mumbai, Bali, or at a school in Connecticut. Or in China. Like all the human madness before our time, suffered by our ancestors. Today, Paris. Humans wanting merely to have a meal, enjoy an intoxicating drink, hear music, watch sport. Their lives cut short seemingly because of such desires, as if to do such things with their existence constitutes crime. Their lives cut short by those who cannot take the moment to reconcile the water of life and the black of the universe because they have collectively convinced themselves they achieve fulfillment and happiness by snatching those very feelings away from others for eternity.

And worse yet, like after all these episodes, we say just that. An episode. We go on. And we let go of the daily fear after a short while. And we go back to our comforting daily routines. Including the self-involvement, the self-pity. We remind ourselves every so often that life is precious, it can be gone in a moment - from accident, from design - so savor every moment like it's the last. Except we do that by resorting to that corrupting element - all we know is what we face at that moment and that's all there is. No preciousness of life. No thinking that you might never see your loved ones again. Certainly nothing about the Universe being billions of years old and going to on to be billions of years old after you are gone. Just that you've been mildly insulted or hurt by the machinations of a nearby jerk. Or that you've been inconvenienced in some horrible way. Or you lack what others lack. The Cosmos goes out the window when nothing terrible happens for a few months or years. Then it happens again. A vicious cycle indeed.

It was probably too soon to write this and think of it with some personal import. I am still trying to grasp that part of tonight's horror involved a very nice rock n roll band I once saw play CBGB and of whom I hold some regard, let alone grasp what else has unfolded upon a city of humans trying to do some very nice human things. So all I can do, powerless as I am as we all are in the face of such circumstances, is take solace in those things that give me solace, even if it's a chilling solace - that water of life and the black of the Universe that make the Cosmos, that notion that there can and should be very nice rock and roll bands, that we can and should enjoy a meal, a drink, a game, a book, a dream, a desire or two or three or a million.


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