Posts Tagged sorrow

Furniture Store of Human Suffering

(A heavy set man named Oliver stands alone in the center of a nearly endless, empty but brightly lit furniture store.  He is greeted by a thin, cheerful man with a name badge that reads “Stan”)

 

Stan:  Can I help you with something, Sir?

 

Oliver:  Well, I’m in the process of moving from an apartment into a house.  I have more room and am in need of some new furniture to fill the place out. 

 

Stan:  Great, well you’ve come to the right place.  What are you looking for first?

 

Oliver:  Well, I’ll need a new couch. 

 

Stan:  Right this way.

 

(Stan leads down a row of dining room tables into a bank of couches) 

 

Stan:  Are you looking for a sectional, maybe a divan….

 

Oliver:  (pointing at a large, rather non-descript red couch)  That one…over there.  I like that.

 

Stan:  Ah yes!  Our 20th Century Persian Sectional.  Very popular item.

 

Oliver:  I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d like to cut right to the chase.  I have a budget I’m working with.  I’ve seen this couch before at another store but it was too expensive.  If you offer me a good deal on it, I’m pretty much sold.  What’s it cost?

 

Stan:  No problem at all.  I like working with someone who wants to get right down to business.  (pulling a tag from behind the couch)  This couch right here will cost you the first twelve nights you spent alone after your wife and children left you and the funeral of your Aunt Sally. 

 

Oliver:  Wow.  That’s a bit steep for a couch.  The IKEA up the street only wanted the week my father was in a coma after the construction accident and the time my dog froze to death on the back porch when I was six.

 

Stan:  Hmmm…..Okay, look, you’ve got me over a bit of a barrel here.  I’ll be frank with you, I need to move some merchandise pretty quickly.  Got a new shipment coming in, plus my boss needs to see some numbers.  You seem like a nice fellow, how about I ask you for the time your parents locked you in a closet for five hours because you got caught smoking and the time you were eight and your uncle punched you in the face because he thought you had hidden the remote control?

Oliver:  Not bad.  Will you throw in the ottoman?

 

Stan:  Done.

 

Oliver:  We have a deal.  Now, let’s see about a bed for the guest room.

 

Stan:  (hurriedly moving to the bed section) Right this way.

 

Oliver:  Looking for a queen-sized mattress and an upscale looking frame.  Oak maybe.  What’s that set over there run?

 

Stan:  Well, that one will set you back the week after you were first diagnosed with diabetes, the time you got fired from your high school job at Target because you fell asleep in the stock room and the death of your good friend Ralph.

 

Oliver:  That’s just too much.  This is going in the guest room.  Do you have anything a bit more reasonable?

 

Stan:  Well, this set in the corner will only run you the time you got cut from the JV basketball team and the car accident where you caused that man to be in intensive care for five weeks.  And it’s quite sturdy.

 

Oliver:  Sold.  Now, all I’m really in need of are some end tables for the living room and a recliner and I’ve got everything I need.

 

Stan:  Well, I’ve got a recliner over here that I think you are going to love.  Check out this little number.

 

Oliver:  (sitting down in a huge leather chair and leaning back)  Oh yeah!  Stan, may I call you that….

 

Stan:  Certainly.

 

Oliver:  Stan, this is like heaven on earth.  I haven’t been this comfortable in a long time.  This would be perfect for the living room.

 

Stan:  Well, you sure picked the right day to visit us!  That’s a closeout special.  Do you like the style of table next to it?

 

Oliver:  Very much.

 

Stan:  Here’s what I’m going to do.  I’ll get you the recliner and two end tables just like that one as a package.  All you need to give me are the ten or so experiences of sexual inadequacy with women you’ve accumulated in the last three years and it’s yours.  What do you say?

 

Oliver:  Well, it’s a great chair…..

 

Stan:  Imagine putting your feet up on a Sunday and watching the game in that chair.  Think of how comfortable you’ll be.  Think of how much joy this will bring you.  Think of all the pain and suffering this will substitute for.  You don’t need anything in this world but a comfortable chair and a place to put your feet up.  Call me old fashioned, but I believe that.

 

Oliver:  Stan, you’ve got yourself a deal.  When can it be delivered?

 

Stan:  Well, delivery will cost the week that in elementary school that everyone decided to ignore you because someone caught you picking your nose.  I could have it in your home by Friday.  Just write down your address and I’ll have the fellas bring it on by.

 

Oliver:  Sounds like a plan.  It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.

 

Stan:  Likewise, Oliver.  Likewise. 

(The two men shake hands)

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What If There Is Nothing Worth Writing About?

“The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying.”

TS Eliot from Ash Wednesday

Recently, a terrible feeling has been crawling up the base of my spine.  It awakens me in the middle of the night, it hounds me when I am driving home from work, it swims in and out of my mind every time I consider this cursed blog.  I think I had this thought in my mind even before I started blogging, but over the last month its light buzz has grown to a deafening roar.  This feeling is in the pit of my stomach and the recesses of my mind all at once.  It is a voice that talks to me while I write and a spirit that haunts me when I do not.  Nothing makes it grow quiet.  It is omnipresent.  It is a simple idea, but if you follow it to its logical extreme it is as dangerous as a nuclear bomb.  The question is this…Is there that is really worth writing?

It seems a rather harmless line of questioning.  That is how it starts.  The point of writing is to create something.  I hope to create something new.  Have all the worthwhile thoughts already been had?  Has someone else already put down all the truths and mysteries of life on paper?  With the Internet, you can find access to nearly every idea that has been conceived of.  Most of us concern ourselves with whether LeBron is better than Kobe or who is married to who and who is getting a divorce or who wore what on the red carpet or who embarrassed themselves in front of the world.  If you want to dig deeper you can find recipes for how to prepare ox tail, the history of Buddhism, better and more in depth formulas to calculate the value of third basemen or the performance of treasury bonds, or the lost works of some 19th century poet you came across at three in the morning on some insomnia driven information binge.  But to what end?  Is it just more and more stuff to fill our minds with?

Maybe I shouldn’t concern myself with creating something original.  After all, what is the point of originality?  Am I simply trying to justify my existence by conning myself into the belief that I am so special and unique that I can think a thought that the rest of the 6 billion of us could not come up with?  Am I so narcissistic that I think I am capable of an idea that has never been here before?

Maybe the point is to appreciate the experience of writing.  Maybe the whole thing is about letting my synapses fire and my fingers pound away at some keyboard.  To what end?  I do it again and again.  Words appear.  More words appear.  Then more.  More.   They mean something, but who really knows what?  They dance in patterns.  I already have forgotten most of what I’ve written.  I could look back.  To what end?

Why bother sending this nonsense out to the world?  Looking for fellow travelers on the good ship Earth as we spiral towards our own personal oblivion.  To what end?  Am I simply standing in front of the Grand Canyon shouting at the top of my own lungs in the hopes of hearing an echo?  And then what?

Maybe my words will help ease the pain of human suffering.  A noble goal but when you look at what we are up against, it hardly seems possible.  A dying heap of flesh and consciousness trapped in a fading world that is saturated with mountains of disconnected ideas adding up to nothing in particular is going to be helped by some random guy typing random words on a computer screen? Really?  I haven’t watched enough Frank Capra to buy it.  It is a pleasant delusion, but a delusion nonetheless.  Maybe the goal is to delude others into forgetting their troubles.  They will remember them soon enough or, worse, they will enjoy the delusion so much they will forget what is happening to them and the ones around them.  Apathy or sadness. Ignorance or constant horror.  To what end?

If I could write something that could teach people how to live forever or convincingly show them that their actions are connected to something greater then maybe I would be writing something worth reading.  But I am not that good of a writer and I doubt I will ever be.  I wonder if anyone is.  Existential dread is what it is and I can’t write it away for myself or anyone else.  Can writing change the truth of what we are?  I simply don’t believe that.  And even if it could…to what end?

Maybe all of the thoughts have been thunk and all of the dreams have been dreamt and we are simply recycling the same old nonsense in slightly different packages again and again and again.  Over and over.  The paint job changes but it’s still the same old world.  Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

This isn’t my MacArthur speech to the troops blog.  I plan to keep doing this again and again for no apparent reason.  It is a complete waste of time.  It has no value and is utterly and completely useless.  I enjoy writing more times than I don’t.  I like hearing how my words hit people.  I am deeply curious as to how my innermost thoughts are perceived by strangers.  I guess that is something, but it will fade after a while.  These are simply words on a page and they don’t mean anything.  Nothing lasting or real or forever or genuine will ever come out of my mind or my hands.  They are shapes, they are colors contrasted with the background, they are a speck in the eye of history.  They are words.  Their lifespan is about as long as it takes to get to the next sentence.

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