September 12, 2002

From the Horse's Mouth

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Donald Barthelme once wrote “The best way to live life is by not knowing what will happen to you at the end of the day, when the sun goes down and the supper is to be cooked.” The statement is really quite brilliant. For me it even has redemptive power. When all the major aspects of my life were grim (relationships, parents, blah blah), I always found so much damn charm in knowing the moment I walked out my door that I couldn’t predict where I’d be by the end of the night. Maybe lying on someone’s roof, or listening to a stranger’s life story, or dancing on a bar table to that Bon Jovi song that simply makes me laugh or even in the arms of a rediscovered friend. When the sun is going down or coming up there are just so many fine and fulfilling moments to be had. This realization is quite liberating and best of all there isn’t much anyone can do to take it away from me. My life gets weighty only when I find myself in the same position day in and day out. But like any good outlook, this one has exceptions. During the summer I often wondered how long I could continue to embrace all the turns the night had hidden within it. It seemed inevitable that one day when the sun went down I’d have to come down as well. There is a Spiritualized song that climaxes with the line “you know I’ve been thinking about not coming down.” Say what you will about miserable drugged-out musicians but they make some good points. I used to think the line was merely glorifying drugs, but I was mistaken. Now I understand it’s actually quite tragic. Riding the charm of randomness gets to be blinding; eventually it becomes difficult to identify the thin barrier between beautiful unpredictability and hedonistic helplessness. I realized that I had to come down and be a miserable, reflective, antisocial bastard sometimes; it’s the only way I could retain a sense of self. After the high I needed to embrace the medium and to dwell in the low. Who knows maybe this is what Brian Wilson meant when he wrote “Hold on to your ego”? When I failed to slow down, the roles got reversed — instead of taking the night into my hands, I became shackled to a lifestyle, a strange routine of being dragged from corner to corner, with all the charm gone. But once I paused, I was again reborn. Toni Morrison once wrote “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” Surrendering isn’t helpless if you do it willingly. Embrace it and remember to stay on the charming side of unpredictable.


“The Dark Horse”

Archived article by Maxim Pozdorovkin