When you are young and very open and see the division between things, you align yourself with the things on either side of the line. It doesn't matter so much which side you choose but that you are definitive, and that you ring clear and loud. You are a bell on the sidewalk.
When you are young and you buy everything at the Salvation Army or the Church Mouse you are secure in your non conformity, and sure that you're doing the right thing, almost always, and most likely all the time. All your clothes cost a quarter or a dollar, and you know that Emma Goldman was right and that anarchy is not the chaos that most people assume but instead the freedom for humans to rule themselves as they choose, and you also know that the sun will come up tomorrow and that you believe.
You consume no alcohol, meat, or cigarettes, but you try not to be annoying about your abstinence, since all of your friends do. You plug along, in bands or writing zines, putting up fliers, believing in movements that are happening very far away in the warehouses of Oakland or in Tompkins Square Park, far removed from the cornfields surrounding you. You try to connect yourself with grit, with despair in the dollar, with revolutionaries of extraordinary height and of pure silver consciousness.
Somehow you grow away from the lines, somehow when you start to read Baudelaire and Sartre and began to watch the straight trees felled from their roots, when the people that hold up the architecture of idealism begin to stoop, when they get tired, as all beings do, because it is tiring having to be fucking perfect all the time.
You move to a place like Las Vegas where the people are as decimated as the baked earth, where they have tried to raise families for 30 years against the backdrop of corrupt, booze-soaked, cocaine-driven, insatiable casinos and the people who thought that they'd be a good idea to start, who think that the world's fools need anymore opportunities to screw themselves and to lose their children's money. As if the bars and street corners in Newark and south Peoria don't already provide that opportunity every day of the week, although clothed in less glittery gowns. The generations of Vegas circus performers and casinos bosses, pockmarked and bewildered at their progeny and their inability to articulate what exactly went wrong, except that they moved to a soulless place in a gutted environment that even the Anasazi abandoned when they could.
So slowly, you become lost to ideas and cling to things instead, which is the inevitable process of growing up in
America, because it is easier to go out and buy stuff than it is to admit that you don't know where any of your ideas went, or why you believed in them in the first place, because money always wins in the end, and at that point it becomes clear that it has conquered even YOUR consciousness, and you, who though yourself immune to such frivolity and used your water bottles over and over, you who would spend $5 on a night out seeing a band, start to believe in the lie of accumulation. That more is better, and after all, more is UP.
Your solution to this creeping realization is to drink, drink as much as you possibly can (and lots of cocaine too)and still look good doing it, since you're only in your mid 20s no one will notice will they? Numb yourself to the possibility that you have embraced the machine you hated, that you have let it fuck you on a regular basis and that even worse, you LIKED IT WHEN IT FUCKED YOU
Sooner or later you have too much stuff and nowhere to put it. The moneys gone and you're still alone inside your head. Darkness fills the alcoholic void of space between you and the past and it begins to resemble blood, and you begin to notice the sunlight, you begin to feel that you have finally walked through a door and into the light of your life, and that you don't have to be anything you don't want to be. That free will, although western and not exclusive, is either a great or a terrifying thing.
But time flips the coin against you, time hustles you along a dark street
and swipes your wallet, time puts something in your ecstasy, and 8 or
9 years later your 5 year old son mentions 'knockout drops' while shopping
at target. Time is unreal except in the tiny handprints on the clock,
time is unreasonable and difficult to pack, time is lopsided and memory
is drunk. The real thing is the moment, the light, the expanse of space
between you and the past. The real thing is to believe in the real thing.
Nothing else really matters.