Gentle Thoughts of a Dying Man

I glanced outside of the restaurant at the tourists in their fleece jackets and wool scarves. It wasn’t raining but many had umbrellas dangling at the wrist, a necessary precaution in the pacific northwest. I wanted to scream into the glass just to feel something new. I wanted to rip everyone away from their daily rituals and force them to pay attention to my madness, a carefully orchestrated digression from sanity. Perhaps then I would stand and address the confused patrons regarding my outburst.

“You see,” I’d say, “For the past couple weeks I have gone to bed with a deep regret for lost time. Lost time that had been funneled into activities or energies that did not benefit me or others. In fact, when I spend my time I like to think it will either greatly benefit myself or someone else. Otherwise, what use is that time?”

I would then pause and scan the faces in the crowd. My wife, furious, would urgently whisper for me to sit before taking another large drink from her wine glass. I would revel in her pain. I despise the woman. I would manage a controlled chuckle, assuring the crowd I was amused by a passing thought, and watch as their faces would twist and turn into excitement and curiosity. Indulging in this, I continue.

Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.” I would say, quoting John Steinbeck. For this is true: My thoughts have a pure, unadulterated form in the first hours of waking. And it is while my hands are laboring away that my mind attempts to carry me upwards out of that terrible place and into the forever promising land of eternity: a false land comprised of broken wills and dreams dissolving into dying clouds that slowly descend onto the world like a heavy fog. And on some mornings I walk into the fog that is like a giant phantom waiting to embrace me, hopeful.

“Therefore, do with your time right now what you wish you had done with it before your head hits the pillow. Hold tight the tools of your trade but also when you put them down do not cease to toil away into the night, pick up the tools of your heart, do not convince yourself that tomorrow will bring better circumstances, better moods, better motivation.

You are living closely with death. It breathes against your neck and yet I implore you to turn and inhale its essence. Let it flow freely through your lungs like a breath of fresh air. Allow it pleasure the senses and heighten the appreciation for today, and feel the anger of “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.” Because today you will die. Every day you shall die. Life means absolutely nothing, so tell your story, and scar the face of the planet with your lies.”

I did not scream into the glass. A slow erection rose in my pants. I turned to my wife who had started rubbing her hand agaist my swell and I gave her an ear-to-ear smile.

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