Lyric Essay: Obsession

Note: This was written several years ago for a non-fiction workshop at University of Iowa. Thank you Brian. S.C.

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This is the obsession. The protean flexibility of life. One day we are here, the next we are not. Somewhere else perhaps, or maybe we think we are. Are we? Descartes said we are. I think, therefore I am.

Am I?

Sitting there, reading this. Are you? Are you just a figment of my imagination? Will you disappear at the end of this work? Won’t you? How do you know?

This is the obsession: Life and the questions that come with it. Lingering things—ethereal filaments floating through mind, without voice most of the time. We no longer seek the truth of Socrates or Diogenes; instead, accept no more than what is in front of us—tangible, solid and real.

A gnawing madness, dark abyss of future. This is the obsession. The unexamined life, because to examine would be too much.

Is this all there is? Could there be more? Tell me there is more and I will believe you, but then will ask you how you know.

This is the obsession: Life and quest. The quest for meaning, or, if you prefer, answers. A solution to the problem. What problem? Look around and tell me what’s not a problem. Then I will turn you around and ask what is. Is there a problem?

This is the obsession. Look. The infirm, feeble and aged. Callow youth. The value of your fellow. The working poor, homeless, the third world, corrupt politicians. Do you laugh with the cliché on your lips, “It’s going to hell…” one moment and forget in the next?

This is the obsession. What is our place? What purpose? A prophesied insight? Unconditional love? God? Would life be better without us? Is there a god? Why is life unfair? Are we alone?

I read somewhere that humans take up a minute in geologic time and are nothing within the greater whole, except for the part we play in the destruction of everything around us. Is this what we are? Destroyers?

This is the obsession. That I know I am because I think. And I know you are, because you read this, even if only in my imagination. I give you life and reason. But here, today, we make this space within our minds real. We are mind kissing and making the most of it.

Stop.

The reality outside this space is a bit more tangible, solid and real. Stop and look around. What do you see? This page writ with symbols sitting in front of you, but what else? Outside the window life buzzes with possibility. Through that door, it breathes, moves and lives. It is life. And this is the obsession, is it not?

If not, it should be.

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