The point of sharing anything publicly is to communicate with others, so if this resonates with anyone out there, then it has served its purpose. If not, it’s just a message to myself if I’m alive to read it.
Everyone’s life is a story; there’s no denying that. Now, whether it’s an epic tale of adventure, a brooding philosophical excursion, a Greek tragedy, scifi, vampire tale or romance novel, that’s all irrelevant. When it comes to great literature, we don’t require any specific genre, and–this is the important part–we don’t require a happy ending vs. a sad ending.
All that matters is that it’s well written, authentic and, at least on some level, interesting.
Preamble over, let’s talk about me.
I burned a lot of shit last night. It’s such a cliché in the movies, but how many of you have really done it? The act of burning shit is an act of renewal, but more importantly it’s an act of rebellion. We’re not just tossing old memories into the trash, we are violently inflicting flammable hell upon our memories and delighting in their incineration. And although physics tells us that matter can be neither created nor destroyed, we can sure as frick reduce matter to a pile of anonymous ashes that will never reassemble into anything even closely resembling whatever doomed form they were before the torching.
Macbeth asks his shrink what medicine can do to erase his traumatic memories. The doctor essentially says what every half baked quack has said since then: “I cant help you. You have to WANT to get better. That’ll be 100 drachmas please.” Macbeth proceeds to kick the quack out, cancel his HMO insurance plan, resume sinking into delusions of being attacked by trees. Or something like that.
We can’t erase our memories. But we can burn the shit out of any reminders, thereby limiting the number of triggers and land mines that sink us back into those hellish flashbacks that we know so well. One way or the other, it felt good.
And isn’t that really what we seek with death? We don’t necessarily want oblivion, the Underworld, or whatever you believe death brings. We just want to burn the shit out of the pain we’ve endured, reduce it to nothingness or ashes, so that whatever incarnation, or lack thereof, that comes after this hell will be a clean slate.
But now, returning to my original point, what good is a book with blank pages? If each of our lives is a story, what’s the point in writing a full novel, only to destroy it because you can’t figure out a happy ending? The libraries would be devoid of Shakespeare and instead be packed with infinite copies of “The Little Engine that Could”.
As Captain Kirk said in Star Trek 5 when the alien offered to take away all his painful memories: “pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away. I need my pain!”
As the last flames died out, and the stink of things that shouldn’t be burned filled my room (yes I did it in my room, but at least I was smart and disconnected the smoke alarms because I’m a living Darwin Award), I realized that the physical analogues of my pain were now gone, ashes, but they will all stay in my mind. And somehow I’m ok with that.
Whether my life ends awesome or hellishly foul, hey, it’s an interesting story. We had one hell of a ride.