When you have a dead brother you fear death because your own death now means you leave fewer behind who knew you. It's the anonymous, empty, what was he all about anyway kind of nullity that puts you in the hole in the ground staring at oblivious planets and stars. Life goes on without you and yet you create a personal explosive gas of suffering for your own people to inhale, puke and sniffle. When the weather gets cold the rattle returns to the shocked lungs of the living. Holding on. Just holding on to memories you created in people who perish. And the bad news comes, and the bad news hurts and it hurts until your morals get hard and your face becomes calloused with forced indifference. Your Cheshire Cat smile is for the death and destruction in the world you see but don't experience. Not today. That's what we say to death. Not today, you sneaky bastard. We wear the brave face. It is our mask for the new sustained civility.
I am losing the buoyancy of fatherhood.
My children are no longer children but a man and two women needing scuffs and scars to toughen up for a world crazy with lunatic shopping carts bashing their clearcoat youth. Beaters amongst the skin deep but with high horsepower engines of parental design, chug chug chugging along the rails of the old framework. Training. The passive-aggressive of cyber security wagging its fickle finger. I think they know the beauty of themselves but are they gold bricks or can they coin themselves in this realm? It's my business, I think, but I don't even own the bricks of my own house. There is no more room. Everybody must go outside and squint in the light.
My bed smells like old man.
Grey hair is distinguished on the running man, but weighs down the man in the chair like hoary frost on a tarpaper shack. Running is painful. Sleeping is wasting time. Living for the moment is the foolishness of the fictional city with its ready made cutouts of cheap pleasure and bargain business. There's no place like home, and no place in the home like the chair of sighing. Taxes. Tragedies. Treadmill. More work please, sir? I'm in debt, you know. Oh don't worry, these aches will go away after a few jumping jacks. Pip pip, cheerio. And the skin goes slack, and the muscle tone belies the fragile bone. The morning is an impatient warden tap tap tapping his sunlight's baton on the bars of your indenture. But you flip the pillow for the fifteenth time, and try to ignore the iPhone's chime.
I can wash dishes and eat soup.
All the grease on my fingers can be washed warm, and the stuck ramen noodle of the narrow pot falls away with the effort of my nails. There are chemicals under the sink, and fresh water in clear recyclable containers and the gas for the stove has never not come. I dream of apocalypse but it only happens on the television. My backyard is quiet, and I can watch birds from my window as I toil lightly in hot suds. I have enough plates to serve four dozen and enough booze to stumble them all. If I am feeling low, then cleaning my home can raise my spirits. The rhythm of simple work, the Godliness of cleanliness, the perfection of order, the banishment of chaos in 2000 square feet of privacy should be more than enough. I remain hungry for luxurious refinements in the belief I have toiled long enough. But I am only vain and greedy. When I recognize these faults I can quiet my mind by making myself useful. Small perfections.
I can listen.
What do I have to hear but Beethoven and Hiromi Uehara? What do I have to see but the suffering of jigger victims? What do I have to know but the intricacies of cloud computing? What do I have to do but care for my family? I am alive and living is a blessing.
I can live.