On the train coming home this evening I saw a near-blind lawyer I used to work for. He was reading a paperback novel. In order to read the paperback novel, just as I remember he would do in order to read the brief, the letter, the offshore hedge fund circular, he had the book held up so close to his face the pages practically touched the left lens of his eyeglasses. I only saw him as I was crossing the car to get to the open doors. I thought he saw me, that we had that exchange you have with people you once knew, slightly but very regularly, where you recognize, look away, and remember later who they were. But he couldn't have seen me, he can't see. He probably never knew what I looked like then. Did we note each other in the car anyway? Yesterday, no, Wednesday, the man sitting in front of me in the carshare looked so familiar, from where did I know him? Is it from the cafe? Have we had a conversation? I know his face, his beard, his hat, his style, everything. I couldn't place him. Later, that evening, I was standing in the staff reception entrance of the museum, talking with some new writers for Open Space, and out he came, this fellow: a colleague.
I'm not negotiating a crisis, but I'm negotiating something. Once upon a time--- I'd wake up every morning with pangs of guilt, anxiety, shame, it always circulated around the cigarette, that I'd smoked too much, too many, too long, that I smoked at all, that I was a smoker. When I quit, for several months even, I woke up every morning without that feeling, or with a set of comforting replacement feelings: relief that I hadn't smoked, also pride. But those feelings wore off as I gradually lost the addiction, and they were replaced by the surfacing of all the other anxieties or negotiations that were not about smoking but were about living. I don't have something I call those feelings; maybe I should call them 'morning feeling'. Recently they are mid-life-crisis style anxieties: where am I now, where will I be, what do I do next, with whom, where, I'm going to die, etc.
The 'I'm going to die' thing is a funny one. I was always going to die. From 8 or 9 until 40 I was sure I would die in my 39th year. Lo, I turned 40 and that was a very odd day. I call that a birthday. Who was I before that, besides a person who was sure she would die? One plans differently or not at all when one does not expect to continue to live.
Who reads this blog? Where should I invest my creative energy? What should come next anyway? I've finished up having made mistakes of the kind you make when you're half-alive and unhappy. In a way it seems like there aren't any other life mistakes to make, except for the failure to aim towards whatever's truest in the heart, give that kind of a clear path. Maybe it's a good idea to consider what they've always meant by 'nest egg'. What gets stored up for 'the future'? What was I doing up til now? Leslie and Judith asked me along with some others to write about "The Future." I had quite a terrible time with that. This blog post must be about Leslie. We talked about Paradise after that. I recall reading somewhere about people under extreme duress, and how time collapses or explodes into an infinite present in order to tolerate the intolerable constant presence of threat, of trauma, I read this in relation to a study of prisoners at Auschwitz, why am I recalling this now? I recall being in a graduate seminar with Stacy, and sitting in the half dark---why were the lights in the classroom out?---talking about this extreme duress and my own experience of -- I can not remember now what was so pertinent about my own experience of time to have so earnestly tried to articulate it then.