“If thought is really to find a basis in lived experience, it has to be free. The way to ensure this is to think other in the register of the same. As you construct yourself, imagine another yourself that will one day construct you in its turn. Such is my conception of spontaneity: the highest possible level of self-consciousness that is still inseparable from the self and from the world.” –The Revolution of Everyday Life, Raoul Vaneigem
I cannot look at a lifetime of previous experience and find anything but something to be grateful for. How I could find fault with, judge or castigate someone for the things that made him who he is now, brought him to this point, where he feels, breathes, walks, runs, lives, sleeps, fucks, eats, moves in this way that is so precisely tuned to the ‘he’ that I know now?
What we should…
“The presence of a noble nature, generous in its wishes, ardent in its charity, changes the lights for us: we begin to see things again in their larger, quieter masses, and to believe that we too can be seen and judged in the wholeness of our character.” –Middlemarch, George Eliot
Maybe the door has been opened, maybe my middle age has made my brain into mush. But we must use the time we have to absorb what is in books, to touch each other, to eat or revile coriander, to hear our voices reach each other and rise above the hubbub and cut through the chaotic din of our other lives to be able to say, do and be only the most uninhibited of things, to walk through the forest or along the river, to nurture and coax the best of each other, to lighten the dark path we each tread sometimes, to dare to be silly or mundane and find beauty in it, to watch a lone cat sit patiently and alert in the middle of an overgrown field before pouncing on its prey, to sing – however dumb we sound – songs that come into our heads, to fall in love (after 30 or even 40), to give and give and give until exhausted, sore and dizzy, to transform and be transformed. We can blink our eyes, and find suddenly that it is over.
And how sad that would be if we didn’t render our own off-key renditions of “Lover Man” while lying entangled in bed or let ourselves cry in the joy of simple closeness, in the tenderness and care of bringing a cup of coffee in the morning, or in the loss of some small thing we barely noticed when we had it, or in the beauty of how glossy and liquid fountain pen ink can look on a page (I noticed this most of all in a recent episode of American Gods – not at all surprised by the tantalizing visuals there). And how empty life could be if we (or I) only grabbed cheap ballpoint pens, cast books aside to watch Law & Order reruns, or as I was recently cautioned against doing – discarded the best person I ever knew just because I don’t know how to be with someone who is undamaged.
But where, indeed, does experience end and damage begin?
“It feels like nothing matters in our private universe.”