There is a creaking coming from the boiler. Someone walking from another room. Her breathing. Your gratitude. Light pushing its blaze through the foggy window. It’s cold. It’s always cold. But blankets exist and bodies can share heat. You should make her eggs, but don’t.
The longer you tried to hold on to yourself the worse it got. Kill the ego, kill the ego. Intuition is grand when it’s good but awful when you’re terrible. How’d you get in this mess? The moment you began thinking your actions wouldn’t change who you were, the moment you thought reading a book about how to not procrastinate was some kind of answer.
Oh worry oh fear oh holding on.
She’s buying you coffee and you’re thinking about a million other things? C’mon, she even knows you like dark roast. Appreciate that level of care. Its purity stems from how she brings no attention to this action, and in this moment she’s free.
You don’t think she’s unsure? Or worried? Then why didn’t you buy the coffee?
The world is all there is but it is not what we see. We see the mass fictions of society, some lovely and others tragic, and we are told certain things matter by those who so badly want us to want what they are selling. The real cost isn’t my wallet, but showing you my iPhone like it’s some extension of me.
We are plagued with too much and too little freedom all the same. We’re in 7th grade, at the dance, watching the other kids do their moves and comparing, comparing, comparing, meanwhile missing how that pretty classmate in the corner could use a partner, and if you ask, you’re more their type than ever not asking.
But you didn’t ask. You only asked those who you didn’t care say no, because better misery with control than life with the shadow of failure.
There are ways to feel and to be better, but they do not involve figuring out those ways. You know the ways already. The ways are a byproduct. To make them your focus will only create hypocrisy. You will say, “but I’m a good father,” half-empty fifth in hand, belt undone, as she just shakes her head and the birthday party goes on downstairs.
Instead, love others for them, for their story where you are not the character you think you are. If you find this fake, act. How? By what you do for them. “But love is-” what? Never having to say you’re sorry? What you got? A battlefield? Who told you these things? Why do you believe them?
You begin to realize all those times you crossed those rivers or wrote those words, there was some ego you were trying to enforce. But when she hurt you and you had every right to be mad but didn’t see how this would help her, and when you washed the dishes, that had greater and better meaning because the latter were in a reality in which was objectively shared, while the former were plot points featured in the movie running in your head entitled, “Me.”
So, where does that leave you?
It’s not about you. It’s about helping your kid blow out the candles instead of hunting for the better Wild Turkey or enjoying a conversation with someone whom you share few parallels with and don’t idealize, and only by making it not about you can you become someone you don’t loathe. It’s harder than loathing though, because at least with loathing you get to keep on being you.
Yeah, it’s cliche. You say sacrificial love nutures a master/slave dynamic. But as all external precepts are thrown off and we head into the labyrinth of funhouse mirrors known as self- actualization, let it be known there is a reason the closet contains the exercise bike and the only news comes from a corporation.
None of this is sexy. Nothing is as sexy as your dreams, but the dream is a sham. She just bought you coffee. Go. At least offer to pay. If she refuses, accept her gift. At least try to have a good car ride, especially if you feel fake, especially if you’re worried, because regardless of your fear the act is something pure. You are no longer watching the crowd. You are no longer in the comfort of the unreal. You are asking her to dance.