Finished But Unfinished: Punklightenment, February 2010

My mind and emotions demand to be written down, examined, and understood. I do not even know what they want me to say. I feel my heart pounding, my veins filling with adrenaline, and the irresistible urge to express something that defies definition. I know how this feels, but what does it mean? Something inside me is speaking to me. It has something to say…so now I listen…this is automatic writing. Writing without conscious intent or predetermined destination. It is a message from me to me and I wish you to come along for the ride.

I just took a friend home that lives in Riverside. She is a beautiful, intelligent, and caring young woman. She sensed my sadness. It made her politely recoil. I do not blame her. Sadness and neediness causes others to hesitate, step back, and assess the situation. I need to be needed and that is neediness in itself. I am simultaneously weak and strong. My weakness is my strength and my passion lifts me higher than anyone can imagine while it also dashes me onto the rocks in the deepest pit of Hell.

Then, I look at the news and see the horrible earthquake devastation in Haiti, the starvation and factional/tribal atrocities in Africa, and the hungry and cold homeless people on the street, and I feel ashamed for even thinking to lament my own personal drama. When I was at my lowest, I honestly wished the walls and ceiling would come crashing down. Now, I am glad they did not, but every once in a while, I wonder if it might have been better if they had. If I had died, then I would not be here wondering, worrying, feeling guilty about having feelings, and struggling with the heartache of being alone.

I am both ashamed and proud to have loved someone so much.

As a Buddhist and a believer in science, I know that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be transformed. If I had died…and I was dying…then would the great cosmic reset button have put me in a better place and set of circumstances? Probably not…for every action, there is an equal and complimentary (not opposite) reaction. Wholesome thoughts and actions net positive results, and unwholesome thoughts and actions generate negative results. If I had died, then I would have ended up somewhere else with another set of problems…and I would have had to start all over again.

I would have been finished but unfinished.

As I drove home, I got lost and turned the wrong way, just like I do in life. I know where I want to go, but sometimes I take a wrong turn and end up traveling through dark places. Sometimes, I turn around, and sometimes I push the pedal to the floor and drive straight into the foggy abyss.

Tonight, I put the pedal to the metal and floored it. I knew I was going the wrong way, but something inexplicable compelled me to surge onward. Deeper into the jet-black, mist-coated fields, speeding down the two-lane unlit highway, I could not see where I was going and I did not care. “Am I suicidal?” I wondered for a moment before deciding I was not. It was life that was pulling me forward. It was the dusty, battered spirit of the skatepunk who loved the excitement of thrilling danger coming alive again. I smiled as the speedometer went past ninety MPH, even though I could only see a few feet beyond the hood of the car. I tuned on the radio. The local college radio station was playing some high-velocity, kick-ass punk rock and it fueled my fire. I felt so alive and yet I still wondered, “Am I trying to kill myself?” I wondered for another brief moment and realized that the answer was a resounding, “Yes and no.”

“Yes,” in the sense it was stupid and dangerous to be speeding down a narrow highway in the darkness, blinded by the glare of the headlights in the fog that enveloped me. I felt both terrified and completely safe: Terrified because some unseen object could suddenly come out of the brilliant white cloud and tear me completely apart in a high-speed collision, and completely safe because the fog and darkness felt like a comforting blanket of obscurity.

“No,” in the sense that I did not consciously want to die, and the blinding glare of the headlights in the mist beckoned me onward toward something extremely important. I heard the silent voice in my mind that is not my own say to me, “Keep going. I have something important to show you.” I felt like a bullet piercing the body of reality. I felt like a soaring eagle screaming in ecstatic flight. I felt like a damn fool, but I kept going. Whether I lived or died, I was staring directly into the white light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel was mine.

The fog suddenly lifted as I crested a slight hill. The car almost lifted from the pavement, causing me to rise in my seat and my torso strained against the shoulder strap of the seatbelt. The night sky and all the stars suddenly came into view like crystal-clear, shattered, celestial glass on black liquid obsidian as I struggled to keep the car on the road. It was drifting slightly from side to side, reminding me of the speed wobbles a skateboarder gets when riding downhill too fast. I did not hit the brakes but I did let off the gas. Self-correction was instinctual. The low-level radio station had long since dissipated into static, and I let the vehicle coast…90…80…70…and ever downward…slowly coasting to a stop on the gravely dirt shoulder of the road.

I turned the radio off. I turned the ignition off. I turned the lights off. I turned my mind off and just sat there alone. I felt at peace. For one brief, blissful moment, I felt at peace before the disease of mundane consciousness brought me back to this world. I felt cold, lost, and a bit scared, but I liked that too. I savored the feeling of loss, embraced the chill, and squeezed every drop of juice from the fruit of fear.

Then came the realization.

We are all going somewhere whether we want to or not. Our lives are the vehicles we pilot in the attempt to get somewhere. We get lost, we crash, and some of us die along the way. In the end, we all run out of gas and the ride is over. This metaphor is trite but true. Along the way, we pass various sights, sounds, emotions, experiences, tragedies and triumphs. It is dangerous to go anywhere. It is imperative to try to get somewhere, to attain some sort of goal, to leave some vestige of our passing, to leave a legacy that is worth remembering…

…and if I die tomorrow, that’s okay, because I have lived many lifetimes within the space of one. I have done almost everything I wanted to do and that is pretty cool. I do not know exactly where I am, but I know where I have been. I cannot see in front of me, but I know something is pulling me ever forward. Whether it is right into the brick wall of death or into the radiance of explosive achievement, I do not know. Either way, it is all right and I look forward to the sound and feeling of the impact.

I am now both finished and unfinished.