who the heck knows anything, anyway

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Contemplative sorts of things

Monday somehow ended up becoming rather soft and glowy around the edges. Perhaps there's a better way to explain it, but that's the simplest. It was soft and glowy, and full of thoughts about soft, glowy things.

I've been reading Salinger lately. I've loved him since I was sixteen and read Franny and Zooey*--a book that quickly became my literary equivalent of mashed potatoes and gravy (in other words, the ultimate comfort food). More than once, I've revisited it--usually in times of emotional upheaval or drastic change--and with every blissful return, I close the book with a satisfied heart. While I was in San Francisco, I went to the famous City Lights Book Store** and bought his other two books (thus completing my collection***): Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour, An Introduction and Nine Stories. Combined with some very serious bouts of recent introspection, reading these has helped me to realize that, somewhere in the past year or two, I've gotten to be a bit jaded. And that's not a characteristic I like. I want to stay optimistic--even foolishly so--and humble and curious. I know I haven't left those parts of myself behind, but they've been sadly subdued by the addition of added fears and general world-weariness. 

I want to be mindful of my attitude. I want to be saintly**** without playing the martyr, and I want to notice the beautiful before the bad. The scary, tiresome, guilt-causing things will always be out there, but I don't want them to be the first things I notice; they certainly didn't used to be. 

Basically, I want to be Seymour.
Perhaps, for those of you who've read all of these books I'm yammering on about, that's a bit morbid*****, but, really, I'm already rather morbid, guys.

Let me tell you a secret: I am an incredibly happy, thankful person. It's contemplating such supreme happiness that leads me to be a simultaneously melancholy person (I will explain this to anyone who personally inquires. It seems rude to bring it up to everyone, unsolicited. I care about your feelings, too!). Fortunately, there can be beauty in melancholy, too, I think. Not in anger, though. Not in guilt, nor in frustration, nor spite, jealousy, etc. These are the attitudes I am aiming to not suppress, but mellow. I'm not a very angry person, in general, but I do feel emotions fast and hard, if you know what I mean. Meditation has begun to sound appealing. I've started reciting a little...let's call it a mantra, to constantly remind me of what's important. It's already been helpful. Growing up Catholic, reciting familiar words has long brought me comfort; many times, when my trust was broken (or even my heart, for that matter), I would sit outside by myself, chain-smoke cigarettes, and say the Our Father repeatedly. God, it was miraculous how well it worked, unwinding the tightness in my chest. Maybe that's why I can't separate myself from Catholicism completely--sometimes the little things about it bring me so much peace.

Anywho, that's the goal. I am going to remind myself, come hell or high water, that everything is so goddamn beautiful. I think I'm off to a pretty solid start.

*I read Catcher in the Rye when I was fifteen, and was unimpressed
**Jack Kerouac and his posse were regulars in the 1950s
***with the exception, I believe, of one short story that had only been published in the New Yorker in the '60s
****not sainted, mind you, just a really, genuinely, good person.
*****Seymour committed suicide. This isn't a spoiler, I promise--it comes up regularly in every one of the non-Catcher stories

image is mine, bee-tee-dubs