This is where we’ll start. Hell in a hand basket.
Putin invaded Ukraine last night under the pretense of clearing the area of Nazis. The Dow tumbled 700 points in the last couple days; the crypto markets – despite the façade of decentralization and financial independence – have been following that trajectory for some time; interest rates are about to hike because inflation is so bad that gas is $6 a gallon in downtown LA. Not that any of that financial shit really matters to me personally, mind you, because I’m barely able to make my car payment despite a pseudo-comfortable six-figure salary, so saving isn’t even in the realm of possibility. These are the color gels of the world, now. I’ve had and continue pervasive conversations with friends in disparate groups, all of us going what the actual fuck is happening, because something is very very wrong right now.
I tend to believe that hubris deludes us into believing that a grand design has anointed our generation as the witnesses of humanity’s final doom, that Armageddon is slated for tomorrow tomorrow, not our grandchildren’s. What if I’m wrong?
I can’t believe that. If I did, then let my scraping of sores, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, reflect the question: What’s the point of all of this?
I’m middle-aged now, looking down on the valley that will be my final destination, wondering – like all of us – what lies ahead. But I’ve realized, for the past few weeks at least (definitely longer), I’ve been looking backward when I should be embracing what’s to come. That, though, is far more difficult that it sounds.
I fired up Horizon: Zero Dawn a couple days ago; the sequel was just released and it’s getting such rave reviews that I thought it might be time to revisit the first. In 2018, I’d only made it about a quarter of the way through – maybe half? – when I lost interest for some reason or another (Narrator: Divorce) and while I had my issues with the HUD and a bit of cheesery, reviewers consistently give that – and now its descendant – rave reviews as one of the best video game heroines in history. I’m clearly missing out. I’d finished Cyberpunk 2077 the day prior and all of a sudden, after a dearth of good games on the market, there’s a bunch I want to play. But I’m watching my duckets very closely right now and rather than spend the cash on a new game, I figured I can go back to the first and satiate my appetite to sit at the cool kids table. That amount of time away from a game, though, forces you to re-learn how to play when the tutorials are long gone. Sometimes it works. I’ve attempted this strategy before and it’s highly frustrating, regardless of whether you remember where you left off in the story. Which I didn’t. So, fuck it. Let’s just start from the beginning … but I was so not prepared.
It all came flooding back to me, like when a trace of long-forgotten perfume brings tears to your eyes. Reza watching me play, asking questions about the main protagonist. Where were her parents? Who was the man who raised her? Why were they outcasts? And there’s this little girl, running around a cave, finding dead people, scratching the surface of the mystery that will undoubtedly unfold in later chapters – when the pang of regret caused an involuntary inhalation that sounded like I’d just crested the surface of a lake. Any story about a young girl and her father brings me no joy, only pain.
To endure oneself may be the hardest path in the Universe.
I am a shell of a person without the love of my child. There’s no getting around this. I have debated – internally and from the rooftops – about how much I should let this affect me, but the hubris that permeates history has taken root in me, too: I have no control over the agony of this loss and I cannot will myself well on hope alone.
I have made so many mistakes – as a man, as a husband, as a father – and I look for justice where there can be none. This, I think, is root of my fear. I’ve lost her. I’m tired of blaming other people, of wrapping reality in a coverlet of deflection. I did this. Not by myself, of course, but if I am the master of my own life, the arbiter of justice in my heart, then I could have – and should have – found a way. Yet, if pride is all that’s left now, maybe that was the problem all along.
There is a world outside my head and my heart, though. And while my child is a permanent part of that universe, she’s not the only thing in it. Why does that knowledge create so much guilt?
Oh my, I’m out of practice. I’m tired now. My knee is bothering me and I need to stretch. But, incoherent as it may be, I was here, and sometimes that’s all we need to get through another day.
You do not take from this universe. It grants you what it will.