So much for sleep. Woke up at 1:30 am. Falling back asleep is a farce. The cat wants food; she won’t stop crying and the house is freezing. I was just complaining about how it was too hot for October and now it’s too cold. Equilibrium is elusive.
I work and then I’m useless. I’m good at my job but then I’m terrible at everything else. Maintaining my home, feeding my cat, cleaning her litter box, keeping up with friends and family. I live to proof pastries at 5 in the morning and smile at people and serve them coffee. There’s a quiet dignity in making people happy with hot caffeinated water and buttered rolls.
They say it’s the best part of their day. A latte and croissant in the morning before they go to work. And I say I’m glad I can be a part of it. But it also makes me sad. What’s going on with the rest of their day? Drudgery, thankless repetition, obscure exertion and gnawing existential dread, just like mine? Only with more obligations and dependents. Bosses, bills, parents, children, relatives, pets, advertisers and strangers constantly needling and beseeching them, burning them down into a spent wick.
I have free time but my soul is a captive of lethargy. When I get off work I’m already thinking about my afternoon nap. Laying down is the peak of my day. I wake up thinking about falling asleep again. Make plans to go to the gym but I can’t leave the house. Don’t want to drive or ride my bike downtown. It’s only a couple of miles but my couch is more comfortable. Don’t want to spend hours performing repetitive movements in front of mirrors while pop music plays.
But I don’t want to lose my body. When I go to a grog house in the early evening to drink beer and eat wings and I see a man five years older than me with a bowling ball gut and drooping posture and listless eyes I want to work out harder and get stronger. It’s not love for the weights, the romance of the iron or good natured desire for improvement, it’s disgust that keeps me fit.
At 31 I should have a family of my own. My kids should be in school now. As a teenager you dream about who you could be. And if you grow up in a safe, stable environment, you’re free to explore the possibilities. Play the guitar, sports, write, read, whatever you want. It’s always out in front of you; real life is still to come and your identity is up for revision. You’ll decide who you are later.
Years go by and you’ve dabbled and played and tried on different roles and occupations. But nothing sticks. It all slides off. Relationships, places, jobs, hobbies, all running water, all vapor. And you realize that your fantasies about who you wanted to be don’t matter.
This is why most people have children if they can. They won’t be leaving anything else behind. No matter how skilled you were as an artist, how cool you were with your quips and cutting remarks, your sense of style or correct political opinions, you will be forgotten the moment you’re gone. Most of us will be forgotten before we’re dead.
Unless you pass a part of yourself down through your children and bring them up to honor what came before them. Even then the living memory of who you were will fade into nothing. But the genetic material that underpinned your ephemeral consciousness will persist. And that’s as good as it gets.
We’ve always known this, unconsciously, in the deepest part of ourselves. Sex and reproduction constitute the core of who we are and the motives behind our behavior. Rejecting reproduction in favor of self actualization and plastic redefinition of sexuality is a hallmark of social and spiritual dilapidation. We’re buttfucking ourselves into oblivion, choosing the idiotic bliss of the orgasm over the enduring satisfaction of genetic and cultural stewardship.
I’m writing in my café before opening and I could fall asleep in the middle of this sentence. When I was trying to sleep in bed just after midnight I could have beat a Kenyan in a 40 yard dash. I have energy when I need to be tired and I’m tired when I need energy. I didn’t want children when my nutsack was full of fresh seed but after spending a decade wringing the zest out of my dick I now dream of siring healthy offspring. The irony of life is a bitter tonic that keeps me just healthy enough to carry on with a crooked smile.