Saturday, November 19, 2005

Stay Where You Are

If you approach life from an existential viewpoint, as I do, you can't help but question almost everything. For instance, what is now as opposed to just now, or what is here as opposed to beyond? It's easy enough to assume something, anything, but ultimately really difficult to compile convincing data that you can take anywhere and not have it fall apart at the slightest provocation. All it takes is one voice, one tiny squeak of dissent, and everything tailspins out of control. Who am I?

"Stay where you are."

Bricks and mortar, the sidewalk and the shards of broken glass that litter it, everything looks quite solid. Uptown is that way, downtown over there; clearly any number of exits are available to me. But where am I gonna' go? This is what I know. Right here everything is real, solid, fundamental... and beyond... just someone else's reality. How can it matter to me and to what I know? And what do I know? And where am I supposed to be right now?

"Stay where you are."

The aroma of burnt rubber leaves an acrid film on my awareness. The occasional wisp of smoke smelling faintly of car exhaust (and another smell I can't quite identify) implies that I'm still alive, and there's a slight throbbing in my wrists to match the ringing in my ears. So, there you go. Surely I'm supposed to be doing something right now. Somewhere in the midst of this confusion is a path; I'm sure of it. Sticky spots of goo flecked with broken, green glass twinkling in the morning sun cover the faux Native American design of the upholstered bench seat cover. Although I can't quite remember why, I'm sure the goo is sweet.

Between the bricks are panes of glass; behind the panes of glass, faces peer at me. I should be doing something constructive right now, something that would move my project forward. Am I a shark? Does life cease as soon as I stop moving? What if, as I move forward, I find myself somewhere I have already been? Does that mean I was actually moving backwards? How did I get here? Why is it so quiet right now? Normally the challenge is to filter out the noise so as to identify the signal, but occasionally, silence blocks out the entire world. I've never heard silence like this before.

"Stay where you are."

What did I hear? The explosive crunching the metal made, paint scraping, tires squealing. I still don't understand why. Why am I here? I was moving forward. Everything was cool. And then...

The door opens and a hand reaches in and grabs my shoulder, pulling me out of my truck, forcing me to stand on my feet on the street. The pavement feels solid. Is this my opportunity? What am I supposed to do? Words fly past my head like bats. I brush them aside and consider my options. Only, I have no idea what my options are. I feel sure that I have some, and that they're important, or rather, some of them are, or that it's important to choose one of them, the right one. Can I have two options? Can I pick more than one? Perhaps those people behind the glass can help me. Are they my friends? Do they like me?

"Stay where you are."

This now certainly is large. I'm used to nows that whiz buy and are gone before you even saw it coming; I had a now like that recently, I'm pretty sure. But this now is still here somehow; it just keeps stretching on and on. I wonder if I should be worried. It's nice, in a way, oddly comforting. I feel as if I could take a nap in this now, so warm and friendly, almost luxurious. Now, what was I doing?

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