I sit down to write this in a moment of ADD. I haven’t been able to focus on anything for more than seven minutes over the past five hours. My tinnitus is at maximum and it finally dawned on me that all of this internal distraction is likely due to the fact that I have so much buzzing around in my mind, kept safe, unchanged by outside discourse.
I think the first thing to publicly recognize is that when we keep everything inside a box, and we continue to stuff it so that we change the form of the box, it increases in mass and we stress the structure. Real containers, those that are physically tangible, eventually snap under that duress. Ethereal containers, e.g. our minds, snap too, but in an orthogonally morphing way.
These ideas that we stuff in, whether truth or perception, keep building out like crosswords from other ideas. They burst out and off in all rotating directions, perpendicular to some supporting idea, eventually crystallizing and taking on their own supra-shape. A new idea-unto-itself is the creation of many now micro-ideas, having lost their character to the benefit of a new whole.
This process has been personally active for some time now. It found physical recognition whilst I was standing on an U-Bahn platform in Berlin, mental recognition throughout the past fourteen days in singular strobe-like bursts, and a chunkier conceptualization as my fingers struck the keyboard over the past five minutes.
Berlin, Germany was one of the most remarkable moments of my life. I have since vocalized it as “simultaneously the best and worst” experience of my life. It was an intense three weeks peppered with dollops of clarity and dystopia, delusion and grandeur, brilliance and beauty. In the same moment I never felt more inspired to do something as I did to just stop doing. Berlin was confusing, inasmuch as a cryptogram entices you to decipher the solution.
I could babble comparisons between San Francisco and Berlin ad nauseum. Prime Example No. 1: both cities employ a black text on white background street sign. I could babble reasons to leave one for the other, or split my life six and six, nitpick what is right there and what is wrong here or vice versa…
I had this moment at U-Bahnhof Hallesches Tor that started out as a classic panic attack. I was intoxicated, a few beers and such, but inebriation and anxiety do not mix well. I felt like I was suffocating. The Bahnhof was full of people as it was around 11 pm on a Friday night. I was surrounded by German, still a foreign language to me, making the localized cacophony harsh, unlike being in a crowded auditorium of English speakers where one can at least hone in on something discernible.
It did not start out as a good moment for me. I wanted to do something stupid. I wanted the pain of the confusion… the faulty, internalized ideas I had been actively realizing in the recent past; the sense of desertion I was thus experiencing as a foreigner amongst alien-speak; the peripheral contention in my personal relationships… out of my being.
Through the hazed thinking and audible fuzz encircling me, I’m not sure how it synthesized, but I recalled that it was as simple as choice, the solution to my situation. I could choose to do something stupid. I romanticized for a second being the cool American who got arrested on his first trip to Berlin for doing something dumb. However, a thought that had continually resonated through my frustrations, of keeping karmic asset for the future, lit up and revealed the insanity of my process and the inane romance I had just imagined. Perhaps that was where the synthesis occurred, the recognition of a complete failure of desire (furtherperhaps an alarm call from previous Buddhist readings.) What won was the desire to be welcomed back here. The future. The future trumped the present, in the present. The future was the present, and I realized that I was here, and that that moment, halfway through my trip was fading.
I hate to reference this, but I will. I have been sick of hearing about her lately with all the buzz, but Marina Abramovic titled her recent performance piece at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City as “The Artist is Present.” Without anything else beyond the title, the statement is true. I believe it stretches beyond art and resonates into a philosophy of living. You are (in the) present.
I was there. Standing amongst strangers, on a train platform, realizing what we all were. Ultimately, the same. Fools on a sphere doing our best to understand ourselves, as well as that crazy guy looking visibly anxious and sad fifteen feet away. His sadness and anxiety affecting the environment… perceived or not.
So, then and there, my form changed.
The next eight hours of my life were transforming. I exited the U-Bahnhof happier and readier, addled by Hefeweiße and carbon dioxide and freshly wiped clarity. I found myself in new metaphorical neighborhoods around parts of the town I hadn’t yet visited. The city sounded different, like giving in to the white noise of an off-the-air radio station as you lucidly slept. Tinnitus mashed up with cacophony.
The story continues… here: Decision.