the news came down, recently, to my strange, backwards, and remote area-of-living that friend, fellow-musician, and inspiration died after a long fight with a vicious disease. not as old as the news often is, but rather, just a few days old. and the first thing i felt was stunned numbness. i play at old-ness here, but i’m only 28 which — if I’m honest – means I’ve only really been a conscious and responsible adult for about six years or so. Maybe seven. so when a peer of mine — a man younger than myself — with whom I came up out of the unconsciousness of my early twenties, who played a pivotal role in my understanding of the shapings of things to come… when someone like that is suddenly dead: you’ve got to wonder why. like why him? why not some other man or woman? someone less inspirational, less driven, less talented, gifted, bright, and visionary. someone less compelling. someone with far less potential. someone who was mean or cruel or sarcastic or ugly-of-heart.
why did this man die? why did, out of all the randomness of this life, did some sickness pick him out of our midst and put him on the other side of that great divide? this was, after all, a living, breathing, thinking entity. Someone who smiled and shouted and disliked certain things passionately. someone who was there.
i guess it a question of being like all death is, but when it is someone you know in this way. when they are gone, there is a palpable feeling of voidfulness. a space that is there from a missingness. not a blank space, but rather a space that is a lack of.
and so i find myself looking round at my own messy life. all the numerous things that have gone wrong. stops and starts and misfires. all the unsuccesses that, even today, keep rolling in. rejections and misunderstandings. i’ve been walking around on an injured foot but without health insurance i can only hope it heals itself. my teeth are rotting out of my head. my clothes, my glasses, my car — all hand-me-downs. i exist in a constant state of near full-failure. it is like a war against fate. it is like war. in that, as an artist, you know that if you work hard, if you get very good at your craft, if you make alot of connections, if you are intense and focused and productive: chances are you’ll be just as unsuccessful as some schlub who hasn’t done a damn thing. like war, the casualties are senseless. its not the bad guys or the careless guys who die — its anyone. and often its the great ones that go down in the same fell swoop as the mediocre one or the by-standers.
if you survive, you begin to realize the meaningless of that as well. as in, why did YOU live? not from a surfeit of cunning or valour, or luck, or following directions well. but rather, for some seemingly meaningless reason. you go on living. and you survive and you live on and on. and you think back on that guy who you knew — and everyone around you knew — was the guy who was supposed to go on and on.
in your old age, you look at yourself and wonder why. if you did not perish in the great struggle, what purpose do you have now? you commended yourself in the hands of great danger and uncertainty. you did so with the full expectation that you would fail, and fall, and die with the thousands. but instead, you’re still sticking around.
obviously, we all suffer. we all face death and lose friends and loved-ones. but for many people, it is fully random or fate or divine will. but here in music, in art, on the outskirts of society… for we unhappy few, we are a — dare I say — fraternity of specialists who never expected to still be around. we all thought we’d go together.
and yet, he is gone and i: am here.
soldiers live, and wonder why.
i suppose to regroup and fight and live to die again. or maybe just to waste away into wisdom and forgetfulness. i’m not sure honestly. but it suddenly hit me. an understanding of that verse which comes out of some pulp fiction you’ve never heard of, dear reader. but fiction written by one who was, himself, a soldier who went on living. it is a pragmatic kind of melancholy.
we don’t know why what has happen has happen. but it has. and nonetheless, we have to keep on through the meaninglessness as if to being still alive is the answer to that weird query. as if, being here and still not understanding is the only real answer to anything.
everything else just sort of telescopes out of vision, diminishing and diminishing and diminishing. til it is a speck. this little battle or that little battle. all little specks. they seem so big but then they are often so fleeting. well. i do wish that when i looked back on my blogs these last 7 years of conscious adulthood — i do wish there were fewer entries marking the deaths of friends and comrades and family. but it can’t be helped. you can wish in one hand and spit in the other.
so i feel like we’re all a little lost. that any sense of forward movement or movement toward some goal or endpoint. its all an illusion. we are really just wandering through life pretending more or less convincingly at changing intervals that we know what the hell we’re doing.
and i wonder, as a i wander.