April 23 – Survival, If You Can Call It That

Posted on 3 min read

Landed from LA and repacking my bags for a turn to Germany. It’s been 3 months since I’ve seen my daughter. A little longer than usual, but not nothing compared to Covid. I feel scared and nervous. It’s been hard to reach her lately. Is this the inevitable teenage distance people tell me about?

I’m at breakfast when tears start quietly rolling down my face.
What are you feeling right now?
I don’t know. A lot.
Once it passes I realize the cause is the table sitting behind me, a father with his daughter who looks about seven.
It’s the ambivalence of anticipation in seeing my own daughter and the knowledge of how much meaningful time I’ve missed.

As I descend into Amsterdam, I see flashbacks of myself from a few years earlier, scared and alone in the dead of the night in the Peruvian Amazon. At first I just watch, staring into his wide-eyed terror. And then I realize I can do something. I go over and give him a hug. He’s tan and skinny from being in the jungle. I tell him that I understand him. I tell him that what he’s been doing has worked for a long time, but that it’s not anymore.

And that’s a good thing. Because he gets to step into something new.

What’s on the other side is self respect.

An opportunity to like himself.

A second chance at life.

In my dream, I meet a singer songwriter. One of his vinyls is playing while we talk. The music is light and airy, shameless 70’s California pop. It’s also beautiful in a way that makes me want to listen to it over and over again.

And then I wake up and I realize there is no singer songwriter. My brain dredged up old subconscious melodies I can’t remember in the light of day. Either that or I manufactured the whole thing, choosing in real-time each note based on the ones that preceded it, like some sort of neural-network AI (not like, I am).

Whatever art was created is now gone in the daylight. I think that’s the sadness.

Trust goes down, control goes up. That’s usually used to describe the outside world. But I find it equally true for myself.

When I was a kid, I never thought I would miss being bored. It seemed like such a waste. Now boredom feels like a gift. It feels like “being” in a life that’s full of “doing”.

I can’t tell if this is a product or my age or a product or the times. Probably a confluence of the two.

The dialogue in my dreams is so funny and rapid-fire. It’s snappy in a way that I struggle to be in my waking life. In the morning, it’s hard to reconcile how it came from inside my own head.

Sometimes in the morning my anxiety is so bad it paralyzes me and makes me cry. I can’t tell if it’s the same anxiety that has always been there or the onset of a mid-life crisis.

I don’t feel old, but sometimes I wake up and think of myself as old. And then I think that this is the youngest I will ever be. And it all makes me sad.

I’m describing to my brother my state of ennui.
Are you still writing? He asks
Not much.
Their response is friendly silence.
I stopped when work became too much. I haven’t picked it back up the way I used to. Even as I say it I know the excuse is true and also hollow.

How did I get here?
You’ve been saying that for a long time.
I have?
Yeah. Since at least 6 months before the pandemic.
I remember feeling really good before the pandemic.
Maybe since the pandemic.