This is a polished and semi-fictional account of personal experiences I've been through.
|I can’t remember how it started. Was the sun out? Or was it the moon? Ugh, time runs hazy in those moments I guess, but that doesn’t matter. This isn’t a story about beginnings or sunsets or onsets, nor is this a story about anything really, it’s simply a tale (if you will) about the end of that start that manifested itself so long ago. A dirge (so to speak) that reached its culmination at a moment in my life where I was rather impressionable. It makes no difference whether you believe what it is you are about to read. It carries no weight with myself for you to regard the words to come as ingenuine scrabbles of a lost soul. And it is of no consequence to myself whether or not you conjecture with the merit of the epic in which this tale yields. Some stories break your heart, and some imbue it; this one is meant for neither. It is simply the venting of a wanderer, still lost in a world that seems so certain of its place in the universe. It is simply my life.
I suppose the first question I must answer in regards to this tale is one of who I am. A very simple question if I may be allowed to say so myself, but not one so easily answered. Who Am I? – this is a question that belongs at the apex of that holy trinity. Who Am I? How could I assume to know who I am? I see a very different person than that of my peers. I see my past, my future, my faults, my guilt, my pride, and my memories. Who I am is not merely a perception of me from the perspective of myself, but rather, is subject to the subjective scrutiny of the world around me – my family, my friends, and my peers. I cannot definitively pinpoint exactly who I was born as, but I can say with confidence that the world that exists in my periphery seems content to call me Howard. Howard David Tetch, to be exact. My life has been recited to me, as anyone else’s has been I suppose. First with the spoon, and then with the pen; I am not a person who is any different than anyone else, no, I am just another guy who rehashes what he’s been told to fit his reality in a way that he might consider to be unique – a way that garners his own independence and enfranchisement. He who thinks more of himself than this, ought not be considered genuine, but rather a demagogue seeking refuge in an environment unfit for his own survival. His knowledge is false and worthless, as he attempts to use them for his own benefit rather than for the collective consciousness as a whole. He does not know anything, but pretends to know everything. He does not know who he his, because all that he is, is dependent upon the world’s perception of him…and thus the cycle shall continue, always. That is, of course, unless he tries to triangulate his purpose with more than the simple, “Who Am I?”
“What am I?” he asks, as he weans himself from the breast of his misperceived reality, for he has finally progressed in his consciousness of purpose. “I finally understand that I do not exist as myself,” he reconciles, “but as a vessel by which my mind utilizes to wander the universe.” He pauses upon his enlightened position and then continues, “Who I am has been established by everything outside of me, but what I am can only be deciphered by myself. I am a person. I am a man from Rochester. I am a creature from Rochester, New York. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am a member of the human species; a life-form on a planet called Earth. I am a traveler around a star in a solar system filled with like-minded, mass-filled bodies composed of the same material as myself. I am a vagabond leeching the warmth of the Milky Way Galaxy. I, am a creation of the Universe!” He stops a moment, and soon feels his elation wither away into the expanses of time. He understands now that he is at the doorstep to a door that is locked, and he has no way of finding the key to fully triangulate his purpose. And so he asks himself the question that his heart has loathed since it received its first impulse to contract, “Why Am I?”
The man has reached the phase in his life in which he is unable to revert from when he finds himself asking the question, “Why Am I?” For what is a man to do when he finds the meaninglessness of his position? He queries the universe, but it does not yield anything but depressing results of his true insignificance. He becomes convinced that his place in existence is the spawn of flukes and randomness, and that his sole purpose in his relatively short time is to be spent perpetuating this feeling of emptiness onto others in a morbid cycle of reproduction. He cannot ever be content with this, and he will strive to find a suitable standard by which to live by, even if it be to reject his true nature. He is unhappy, and lonely, and will never find happiness or companionship, but rather a veneered interpretation of such. Once the man has arrived at this point, it is irreversible and he is forever doomed. He will devote his life to half-measures and never again will he feel pain or pleasure. Once a man has reached this point, he realizes the universal impossibility of triangulating his purpose, and he will – in a sense – be dead. The man is no longer listed among the ranks of the living. The man is now a Ghost, and who he is has become a reflection of myself.
That’s right, I am a Ghost by my own definition. I am the man who has fully succumbed to his mind and who has imprisoned himself, in his self, in hopes that he will arrive outside of the self to touch but a corner of the structure of selflessness; and I balk at the challenge. At any rate, I digress. I have a story to tell after all, though I suppose it is one that needn’t be hasty in its execution.
I suppose I will start somewhere near the end, for I find it is easier to understand culminations rather than instigations, and I wholeheartedly prefer to delay that which still stagnates in my heart until the time is just right. I was in a conversation (if I remember correctly), with a good friend – a brother – one day…
“Haven’t you ever..you know, done something completely ridiculous for no other reason than because you wanted to, and because you could?” I asked, quite proud of myself. He (that is to say, Thomas) responded annoyingly, “Now, why are you asking me this? Of course I do..all the time. Last night actually, I was going to watch some television, but then decided I wanted to go to bed instead; or, at work the other day; my boss told me to shovel all the snow on the tarmac by hand, and instead, I used the tractor bucket and then..” I interrupted rudely, “No, that’s not what I am talking about.” Thomas was looking quite perplexed at this moment in time, partially because he wasn’t sure how to respond to my initial question, and mostly because he was becoming agitated at the fact that I wouldn’t just get to the point; he protested, “Then what in the hell do you mean?” It was obvious that I hadn’t articulated myself well enough, and so I began again.
“I mean, haven’t you had a moment in your life where nothing else mattered? Like, everyone and everything – friends, family, dogs, work, bills, etc.. – just flat out didn’t matter to you; like for some reason they had become free from your thoughts and were no longer a burden to you, and in a way just…well, they just didn’t exist.” Thomas looked confused again and stuttered a little when he began to say, “Why would I want that though?”
I stared at him for a split second, becoming irritated at my incomprehensible dialogue, and retracted my statement, “No, that’s not the point.” At this point, it was clear I had better get to my point fast, else he would drop the conversation entirely. Still though - and I attribute it to the fact that the stars were quite visible on the horizon, and the moon itself seemed to hone its light on us as though we were its own projection – Thomas looked out and continued to prod me for my meaning and slowly said, “Then what is the point?” as though he needed something tangible upon which to grasp the relevancy of my words. I had his full attention now, of that I was certain, and I knew that I had to deliver exactly what he wanted to hear in order to fill some holes in my own soul. I took a second to think and then recited what I figured had been jumbling around in my mind.
“The point is, haven’t you ever had a completely selfish impulse? That is to say, an instance – brief or prolonged – where you acted soley on your own desires while abandoning thoughts of guilt, and stress, and everything else that comes in the package.” I was cut off, “Why would I want that though, I live for them; without them, my life would be meaningless.” he said. It was all that I needed to hear at that moment, I remember, and so I continued. “EXACTLY! There, that’s a better way of putting it. What if you lived for you, and for you alone, and had no regard for those things; what then would you do?” He gave a dumbfounded look, thought for a second, and replied, “I don’t know…I can’t even imagine.” I exploited that moment's indecision and said, “You see, that’s what I’m talking about, you wouldn’t know; so any idea, however ridiculous or stupid – everything from tattoos to moonshine – seems incredibly possible and suddenly is right at your fingertips.” He finally understood my words, and curiously asked, “Is this to tell me what you would do?” To which I cleverly retorted, “On the contrary, friend; this is to tell you what I’ve done, and what I’ve felt, and how perfect it seemed to make my outlook.” And with this, Thomas contently conceded to listen to what it was I had to say.
“It was two months ago, on a completely normal Saturday evening. The snow had finally finished its transformation into melt-water, and the skies were overcast with a brood of stalwart champions stretching from one horizon to the next. I was on my way home – from your house, actually – having just spent the majority of my day stuffing my face and laying down watching television. On such occasions, I truly do feel the guilt of indolence, and loathe the coming of the sun – the manifestation of which serves as a constant reminder of how things keep moving forward around my halted soul. I arrived at my house, I remember, and could not bear the thought of surrendering to the night without a proper offering in return…so I drove on. First I left Rochester, westward toward Fenton; but when I arrived, I found that I was still not satisfied – so I continued westward still, toward Linden. When I drove in, my mind was still not willing to yield, so I went farther west still, toward Argentine – the outer rim of what we might normally consider our territory. I had been driving for a good hour at this point in time, so I stopped to buy some smokes and a drink.”
Thomas was upset, “I thought you quit smoking?” I calculated my response, and then said, “Nah, I like to smoke on long car trips.” as though to ease the blow to him realizing I had lied to him. I continued…
“It was then, at the register of the gas station which I stopped, that I saw another car pull up out of the shadows, covered in a thin blanket of snow. When I questioned the cashier, she revealed to me that, there in Argentine, the snow still fell, and that no one dared think of such a place where such things were not occurring. This put a smile on my face because in a sense, I began to feel like a true wander – a vagabond from the land of the thawed whom, after his long journey had arrived in the land of the frost. I remember being proud, happy, and above all else, feeling freedom in its finest form. I left that place and continued my journey westward; and it wasn’t long before an image came into my head from childhood – one of my family and I treading the shoreline of Lake Michigan, now so far away. How I so badly missed those days when everything seemed at my fingertips, and the images I conjured in my mind were then so cloudy that the thought of gazing upon that endless body of water, with perhaps two-hundred to four-hundred feet of ice reaching out from the shore became to me a vision that had ought to have been a rekindled reality. And so my journey progressed with a purpose.”