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Yes, William Basinski. But he is totally unrelated, I just like the word.
SEP 27, 2022
There's a sadness that follows me, an emptiness that's akin to the land I grew up around. At times the feeling grows to a dull crescendo, and it wells up in my throat. In an elated melancholy, I yearn for tears to come, and they never do. Another day, it seems to say, something is missing. What the fuck is it?
I hold an image close, a scene from my childhood. 10 years old in the back seat of a truck, travel trailer in tow, somewhere in Wyoming. It was storming, and my family was all there with me, but they didn't exist. The storm, my copy of East of Eden, and the melancholy, elated as I was, existed. For possibly the first time, it visited me, and I remembered those moments. Now such a fixture in my life, a home I can always seek shelter within, filled my soul entirely on the road trip. It's one of the few memories from those years when I was satisfied and so full of awe. I return to it frequently as a comfort.
I long for this elated sadness and chase it as vigorously as I've run from my history. Though I don't know what I seek, I know I find it. At the end of Tess of the d'Urbervilles or the sight of endless land traveling east of the Rockies, it's there, waiting. I used to find it at the peak of an acid trip and on the west side of Black Butte, but I am no longer there and plan not to return. I find it today in the music of Nils Frahm and Portico Quartet; I see it in exhaustion. I occasionally find it with others, though not consistently, and almost imperceptibly subtle. It's spiritual, it's psychological, it's numinous. It's primal and illogical. I'm sure it will be there when I step into the Arctic and backpack through Africa, exploring the lightly traversed and reaching new pinnacles of my career.
It beckons me to stay, though it's an antisocial feeling, and I cannot as I may lose my way. But, it's a welcome sight, an old lover, a mentor, possibly an ideal or archetype. I know not who you are, vague and fleeting as you can be, but you know me, and it's mystifying. As you leave me now, I know we'll meet again. In a yellow wood, on the path least traveled.
Sadness is a constant I can rely on. I see beauty in it, like an old graveyard. Not a graveyard boasting a manicured lawn, flags, and flowers; a graveyard unused, forgotten, with few new burials over the past 100 years. The slow regrowth of nature makes itself apparent, headstones becoming moved by the roots of trees, which outdate the stones' placement. Indigenous weeds choke out ones propagated by man. It's brimming with wonder and seasoned with sober sadness. An object marking the end of a life coming to its own end. Who will make a grave for the forgotten graveyards?
There are times when nobody is here, and boredom wafts in the air. Occasionally, I'm beckoned by waves of melancholy sloshing barely beneath the surface. Sometimes I read, and other times I may lay on the floor and disassociate while listening to whatever music has been on my mind. It doesn't matter which route I take as the end is the same; to float away into thought. Some strange connection of synapses all fire in tune with my soul drifting slowly out of time and into a place full of meaning, charged with emotion, and entirely private. Then it passes. Clocks tick. I find myself planted back in reality through little effort of my own. It comes and goes like a ghost, leaving not a trace. I wonder what these moments mean, then life continues on.
After a glorious day, my sadness comes along with exhaustion. It makes the sunset unnaturally divine, slows my heartbeat, and gives me a moment to reflect on the path I've traveled to make it to that moment. Alive and worry-less in one moment, struggling to not crawl out of my skin the next. My melancholy reminds me of this cycle and the beauty contained therein. With incredible highs come significant lows, and I try to relish them both. These moments I experience with others, particularly while on the road. After a long day amid a long drive, conversation trails off, but the words we choose to speak come from a similar source. We talk about god, reincarnation, love, experience, death, family, and the subconscious. Half asleep, lulled by the neverending highway, I have forged the most profound connections of my life.
Then there's a synchronicity, telepathy maybe, when a call is made which connects others in these moments of sadness. It's a stop-everything-and-talk moment that lasts on the scale of hours, and the minutes pass like smoke in a breeze. What's said doesn't matter. It's the commonality that impresses me. I am sated, compassionate, receptive, and, most importantly, bonded to the person I spoke with. A bond that leaves language behind for someplace else. Then slowly, much slower than the above instances, I return to the monochrome of life and productivity.
These experiences come from recognizing the beauty in the lows. Conscious existence is, of course, an amalgam of high and low moments. These moments layer on top of each other with varying frequencies. For example, we can look back on a particular year that begs definition as a high moment, yet many high and low points can be teased out during that year. These many points are like waves riding on a shifting tide. Yet, beyond the tide, even deeper currents operate on frequencies imperceptible. As we go through our lives, only one option leads to sanity. We must take the variety of moments as they come, without judgment, and receptive to whatever they may have for us.
Accepting life in all its forms is a prerequisite to moving through the world with dignity. When the desire to shirk off the responsibility of acceptance comes, as inevitably it will, one must fashion themselves in the likeness of a tree. Take care of your obligations, and wait for the torrent to pass. Once past, don't take credit but retreat into gratitude. The coming and passing of the lows have little to do with our actions. They are cycles that have always been here and will continue long after our deaths. I'm fortunate to have an affinity for the lows, as I live through many of them. Unfortunately, I have much to learn about staying present during the high points. So, here's to the next cycle. Come what may, chances are I'll have one more day.