Almost done with this personal shit. I hope. It's no fun. I feel like I am messing up by writing about it. I feel embarrassed, even.
I've decided that I have to move sooner rather than later. I've been warned against this sort of thinking in the past. Wherever you go, there you are, etc. I don't think moving will solve anything. At least not internally.
A friend of mine used to let me use his computer when I didn't have one. He is another smart person who has struggled to realize his potential. The password for the computer, at least a few years ago, was "newstart2", which I always thought was funny yet poignant.
I don't expect a new start, don't expect that all that I dislike about myself will be magically healed. But I've had enough. Providence is ultimately my fault. Everything that I have disliked about this place is present everywhere else. I didn't make my best effort. It was a waste, and I apologize, both to the people I have met and to those who have read this blog and have gotten a bad impression of life here. It's nice here. It's not what I want. It's a relationship that, for me, has always been temporary, and staying longer only ensures more pain.
I keep running into the limits of my capabilities as a person wherever I go. I am imbalanced. Every ability I have intellectually and musically, abilities not yet fully manifested, still pregnant with potential, are counteracted by major inadequacies elsewhere, and those inadequacies are ultimately what keep me from pleasure, from simply enjoying life. I can't deal with other people. The freedom I felt in Washington was a freedom contingent on freedom from other people, from the context and limitation of myself and my actual life, which allowed me to reconnect, ultimately, with life itself. The thing that exists beyond the limits and boundaries and frailties of any individual.
What I found in both Washington this past week, and New York when I lived there, is the satisfaction of being there itself. It was something to hold on to, something to be proud of. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. I felt less detached. As depressed as I can seem, let's be clear. I am not suicidal. I like life, just not me (yet) or my life. But what I do like about life is barely present where I currently live, which makes everything seem pointless.
I read almost all of David Byrne's How Music Works in DC. It's alright. Worth reading. I found myself agreeing with him most when he was critical of the ideal of the isolated genius whose creations arrive seemingly out of nowhere and sui generis. The Romantic ideal is bullshit. Context matters. In fact, what we regard as genius may be just a celebration of a person's capacity to understand and speak to a context better than others. Maybe the work itself is done in isolation, but the statement needs context to be heard. It's not a tree/woods situation. It's more akin to language.
I speak one and hear in one, and I feel the people around me speak and hear in another.
And it is hard. Hard to work on music with no audience in mind. Frustrating to write, sometimes, just knowing that there is nowhere for this blog to go. It's never been about money, though the idea of someday doing what I would do for free and getting paid for it instead sounds fantastic. Nor has it ever been about fame. In fact, fame sounds like hell to me - hard enough for me to trust people as it is. I think I'd just like to mitigate the prostitution in my life as much as possible.
Still there is something wrong. Something lacking. To paraphrase Neruda, I feel like I am crossing a sea towards no arrival. I can't embrace nihilism, especially one that derives from a recognition of mortality. I can say life is pointless, and yet, could I say that Martin Luther King shouldn't have bothered? Not that I am comparing myself to him. Not at all. It's more that, to validate the nihilistic sentiment, one must think of a really positive example of someone working tirelessly to improve the condition of humanity and then still come to the same conclusions about the worth of life. I can't. I sometimes worry that utopia would be boring, but it will never arrive in my lifetime, and there is no way of knowing anyways unless it actually comes about.
If there is one critique of Providence that I do think is valid, it is that all my concerns seem so distant here. This is not a grand stage where the competing ideologies of our times clash in dramatic fashion. This is not a place of change. There was a certain pleasure in even going to bad parties in New York, a sense that I was connected to the leading edge, even if the edge was leading in the wrong direction.
I don't even know where I am going with this essay. There is no conclusion, no insight. All I know is that I am a dreamer. I must feel that there is more to life than life itself. Otherwise, why struggle? There must be a reason simply beyond my own pleasure to not sell everything I own and move to a tropical island somewhere to dissipate in a pool of rum and rain and the rays of an ever-present sun.
I ask again, why struggle? The real shame of our current socio-economic system, the losses that so many have incurred since the collapse of the "Fordist consensus", well, millions and millions of words have been written, but it comes down to: after years when, outside of the (sadly) usual racial and sexual prejudices of our society, it became possible for a substantial portion of our society to move beyond mere subsistence as a goal, now, with no real loss in total wealth, we are moving against that tide back to where millions now have to think in a manner that was foreign to even their own parents.
And the main critique I have of the restaurant industry, an industry I may be stuck in again for some time, is that the possibility of thinking beyond subsistence is very tough. You simply don't know how much money you are going to make, and it is easy to get stuck in the near future, and the worries of your own life. Even as broke as I was in New York, when I worked my shitty day job, I knew how much money I was going to make, could think of the future, both in terms of my own life, and in grander terms as well. While I hesitate to make any argument towards causality, I can't help but think there is a relationship between the kind of temporary and insecure working lives of so many of us in "bohemia" and the nature of the culture produced which seems to shy away from grand statements and grand ambitions.
That reminds me of another frustration about my life in Providence. I think I idealized the idea of moving to some sort of proverbial "woods" to focus wholly on music. And yet, even with the lower rents and the general ease of life here, the sense of escape and detachment I was looking for was impossible. As long as fulfilling one's responsibility to oneself includes fulfilling responsibilities to others, there is no escape. The cost of living will never be low enough. In fact, the feeling of exploitation somehow seems worse. There are fewer jobs, smaller variances in pay. To bring back an analogy, there's simply not enough "johns" here for a prostitute to be picky, or to price him/herself out of relatively and potentially unpleasant experiences.
I'm scared, even as I type this. It's going to be tough to move. I'll be putting myself through a lot of pain again, on faith. Maybe I can't even do it. Maybe it's even premature to write about it. Am I really doing this AGAIN? And yet I already feel the anger of having wasted more precious time on this experiment of living in Providence. Today I spent my shower shouting at myself. I knew I should have known better.
I went to a boarding school for high school. It's a long story, and one I won't tell. I had the opportunity to choose amongst a few schools I was accepted to. I chose the most rural because I thought I would be able to concentrate better. It didn't work. Providence was me trying this logic again, and with the same result.
I feel the shame again. I'm hard on myself, if you hadn't noticed. I keep starting over, keep being just at the cusp of starting a life, of having one, without being able to achieve it. I'm sick of doing it. For all my "searching" malarkey, there has to be a base from which to work, a place to come home to after the night's wandering is over. Because if one truly wants to wander, one can never stop. Because what one chases when one wanders is the the sense of possibility borne of the anticipation of arrival. What one seeks is the freedom from the attachments that place context and constraint around life. To wander is to constantly replenish the stores of the unknown.
And that is why leaving will never solve anything. Because once one settles, what is open will gradually close. Certain apples will be picked, others will be left to rot, and the tastes untasted will become only phantoms, haunting in perpetuity.
Only: the fruit I've left behind is more delicious and it is still there to be picked.