In more cynical moments, I feel the plight of the entire modern age is that we’re drowning in horseshit. Continuous horseshit, where everyone is going through the motions of being alive for lack of anything better to do. Horseshit is what happens when “feeling” is held equal, if not superior, to “being.” It’s hard not to feel that writing anything is only adding to the ocean of horseshit covering the human race.
One time, on the oil rig, I was digging a trench with a murderer. Bent over, half out of my mind from dehydration and overexertion, I asked him about how he’d earned his teardrop tattoo. The horseshit lifted like a fog and that’s when I saw the real shit. The earthy truthful actual shit we try to veil with horseshit because looking at it for too long would drive us insane.
He told me he’d stabbed someone when he was seventeen. He wanted me to know he was no coward. They’d been formal about it. They hated each other. They both got knives. The other guy tried to kill him and he happened to kill him first. He got lucky.
A small nugget of horseshit was still stuck in my throat.
“I’m glad you didn’t get stabbed, man,” I said, expelling the horseshit.
Then he got cold and in his eyes, beyond even the real shit we’d been traipsing in before, I saw the very bedrock of the universe.
“What kind of faggot gets in a knife fight and doesn’t expect to get stabbed?” he asked.
I heard that right in my fucking spine.
I EARNED that goddamn story.
Lately, my imagination feels like an instrument of crime. I’m aspiring to be part of the New Great Flood of Horseshit. I want to take people by the hand and lead them down to a pond of horseshit then push them in and hold them under
We read about oppression on Facebook and we get to feel like we’ve taken an actual stand by “liking” that people somewhere are, if not doing actual things, at least “raising awareness.” Idiot acquaintances share unearned wisdom in the quotes from the greatest minds that had ever beheld the Earth, and somehow it becomes tainted for the retelling. I can’t tell you how many times I find a voice in my head saying “That’s an astounding quote about courage!” only for another voice to simultaneously say “How dare you think for even a moment you have the right to post it, cousin Larry!”
Four hundred years ago if you wanted someone to tell you that the secret of life is making your own happiness you’d have to climb a goddamn mountain, scale an imponderable amount of steps, and then spend ten years gardening in a monastery before some guy who you couldn’t really believe was SIXTY years old FINALLY spilled the fucking beans. When he finally spoke, it’d be like God himself revealed the universe to you. You’d hear the secret of life right in your fucking spine.
I sometimes feel like I’ve won something by not having to go through the “earning” wisdom portion. I get to cut right to the chase and just read about people who have lived amazing lives and “feel” the way they actually “were.” It’s almost the same thing. Except for when I wake up at 3am, acutely aware that I’m going to die one day and that nothing is going to happen afterward.
The secret to life is to make your own happiness? Man, what a great universal truth! That really connects to my deep life experiences of having read that right now on the internet.
I have to go yell at traffic now.