Sitting in the Boulevard Cafe, watching the traffic, watching the trees grow a millimeter a month, listening to the conversations of others, the music from bygone eras washing down over my lipstick stained disappointment. No cherry pie, but six choices of coffee. No cherry pie. The noise of life swallowed down with hot decaf tea. The noise of a kitchen, which is the noise of life, the stuff that fuels these fleshy forms coming out on large round white plates.
Fleshy forms, such a deceptive word, “fleshy.” We imagine something very solid when we hear that word, something definite and unchanging, something akin to stone or oak, but it is more mutable than that. It is changing constantly, cells being replaced nightly, a tiny imperceptible operation that leaves you with an entirely new body in seven year cycles. Like watching trees grow. You don’t see it, but its happening, its there, an invisible process of transformation. We have been deceived into thinking that we are stable, of an unchangeable essence, we are who we are and no other. We are one static personality, a good person, a strong person, or perhaps a bad person, a weak person, a smart person, a talented person, a tenacious person, an affable person, or we are a person composed of a combination of two or three of these choices but no more.
We think that we are inherently something,, but anyone who has ever turned their attention inward has faced the terrible truth: we are inherently nothing, we are only something in particular depending on who is looking. We are different things to different people, and when we are the only one looking in at our self, then we are just the one who is looking and the other we thought that we were is a farce. They start us in the beginning, making us choose the words to define ourselves; naughty , nice, fireman, ballerina, president, veterinarian. Just as they were started off. If we look far enough back we remember choosing certain things as if it were a game: my favorite color is green, I like rock music, I read paperback horror stories, I hate musicals and fish.
Well, anyway, I remember making those choices. Perhaps I am the only one. Or perhaps I am the only one being honest. Because the truth is terrifying, a free fall of no cherry pie ever. You don’t see it, but it’s there, an invisible process of transformation catalyzed when nothing notices itself. Our outward forms shift and change and our emotional states vary and our thoughts obey certain patters, certain habitual tracks upon which to run their train. But who is the passenger? A pure and shining void. A frightful bit of nothing caught in a little temporal whirlwind. We call it life, self, mind and body.
And if you see this, if you look at someone beside you and perceive them as a fleshy dirt devil, a living process for transforming light, a sort of perpetual motion machine circulating raw nothingness, and you know that you are not supposed to see it, because you already agreed early on to play the game and not see such things, then you know you are not what is defined in the game rules as “fine.” You know that if you tell them what you are seeing they will do what they can to stop you from seeing it because it ruins the game.
So I say, “Fine, thank you.” and continue watching our possible lives, possible moments, possible lies play out. Six different types of coffee but no cherry pie and the traffic flowing on the street outside. A free fall. Watching the traffic, watching the trees grow a millimeter a month, listening to the conversations of others, the music from bygone eras washing down over my lipstick stained disappointment. A frightful bit of nothing caught in a little temporal whirlwind I call myself.