This Week (Beginning 7/9)

Reading

Entropic Quest by Tom Lichtenberg. Lichtenberg reminds me of Rudy Rucker (Ware Tetrology) in this witty adventure of people thrown together into a chaotic, mixed-up world. Funny and touching read, though very short.

When the Sleeper Wakes, H.G. Wells. So far so good. I’ve just started it. I’ve heard quite a bit about this story, so finally, after all these years, I’m giving it a try. I don’t usually go in for Wells writing, he’s so droll at times; but with a bit of perseverance I may be able to get through this one.

Writing

Working on an untitled story, currently at about 8k words. I started working on building character through an online university course (OU), so the process is taking longer. Characterization is getting better. Much better.

Movies

Thin Ice. 5/5. Excellent movie. Greg Kinnear, Adam Arkin, Billy Cruddup give prize winning performances that will make you cringe, laugh and cry. A really weird twist at the end.

Sarah’s Key. Excellent movie, with subtitles. If you don’t like tear jerkers don’t watch this. Most of the movie is in French with English subtitles. There are many scenes in English, but it feels as if the film maker did not know what they wanted to do with the language aspect, because it switches back and forth so much. It does become a bit uncomfortable, because just as you’re getting used to the subtitles, you no longer have to read. Then when you think the rest of the movie is going to be in English, it switches back to French.

Cool Moments

Exchanged interviews with Tom Lichtenberg.

Random thoughts

This is a short essay—metaphor—if you will. Just don’t think too much about it after you read it. Kind of like seeing something out of the corner of your eye. If you look at it directly, you miss it completely.

——————————————-

There’s something I realized as I stood on the tracks staring at the train speeding toward me. If you can survive a locomotive bearing down on you at a hundred miles per hour, everything in life is up. I jumped from the tracks two seconds before I became bug splatter.

Most of the shit we’re told throughout our lives is bullshit. That’s one of the first things you realize after surviving the train. Those cute little one liners like, "If you want something done right do it yourself."

Truth is, if you want something done right, hire a professional.

That saying about there being no free lunches. What you wanna bet that was made up during the Great Depression when there were no free lunches. Or any free food. Except soup of course. There was always soup.

I’ve heard stories throughout my life that were based upon the Horatio Alger stuff. Uncle Arnold made it as a copy boy in Danville, then the company moved him to New York where he became some kind of a big shot and twenty years later he ran the corporation. He, Aunt Millie and Gabby have an ideal life. A dream life, they say.

The truth is, Horatio Alger was an author and those rags-to-rich stories were very popular formulaic tales that made poor people feel better. Stories like that make everyone feel better about life in general. They give you hope. If someone else can do it, so can you. Doesn’t matter that it’s fiction.

After the train, you have no stomach for positivists. Happy, positive people are different than the positivist. These are the guys who believe everything in the universe is centered on their life story. They are the ones who learn from a tribal shaman how to walk across hot coals so you can pay them ten thousand dollars to teach you to do it and learn that from here, everything is up. In reality all you have to do is stand on the train tracks and wait for the locomotive.

The first few minutes after the locomotive passes by you’re in a daze, glad you survived and wondering what the hell possessed you to get to this point. You’ll be in one of those entropic thought loops that may last for awhile. "I did it!" you’ll tell yourself, elated. Then, "How the hell…?"

Then, "Oh my god. I’m alive." Then, "How the hell…?"

When you do finally come out of it, you may find yourself sitting on a park bench in the middle of winter, or, some other unlikely place that you would generally never go by yourself. You know what got you to that point and promise yourself to never go through it again.

A week after surviving the train and the Entropic Thought Loop (hereafter referred to as ETL), you do not ‘realize’ that life is unfair, you know it. You also know that you have to make it more fair. How the individual does that is completely up to them. Everyone is different.

I’ve heard of some running away from home and joining communes. (Yes, they still exist). Some take the last few dollars from their bank accounts, buy a travel trailer and head off to the Grand Canyon. Others learn to live off the land.

Success and fairness depends on the individual. To some, success is an office in some corporate headquarters with their name attached to a formal sounding title and stamped to a door plate. They make several hundred thousand dollars a year, but have no family life, or close relationships.

They also believe for everything you want in life you must sacrifice something. Like family. What you want to bet they were raised Lutheran?

For others, success and fairness comes in the form of waking up every morning and feeling good about life, not having to report to a job, but spending time with family and friends and doing pretty much what they want to do, though they don’t have little to do it with.

Ambition is not lacking in the latter; the lifestyle is the ambition. They have opted out of the more conventional form of conducting their lives in the Western world. They’ve survived the train and said, "fuck that."

To be honest, I don’t know many people once they’ve come to their senses (having stared down the locomotive) who would want the office job. I think with the experience, something in the brain chemistry changes. Suddenly, all those things that seemed so important aren’t. Everything takes a back seat to peace of mind, laughing out loud, sappy moments with loved ones, reading a great book and contemplating the nature of the universe.

We still worry about living a reasonable existence. We don’t want to be in perennial poverty, but we don’t want to sacrifice things we shouldn’t have to. There should be a local tribe we could join especially for people who would prefer to garden, tend goats, think, read and write.

That is the dream life. Perhaps too idyllic. But that’s the way dreams are made. It has to be seen in the mind first. And that comes after you survive the locomotive bearing down on you at a hundred miles an hour.

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