The taste of what comes next

To be so close you can taste it. To feel all that you’ve felt at once, somehow your whole life coming together to a tipping point where what happens doesn’t matter as much as how certain you are of something you feel inside.

I’ve thought, and thought, and thought about it, and I’m now at the point where the thinking gives way to doing. The kind of doing that gives way to done.

I don’t care what happens tomorrow because tonight is all the belief I need to live forever.

The rose

I bought a potted rose because I had heard they were among the hardest plants to keep, a flower that required daily care and attention to reach its fullest potential. Falling prey to a variety of diseases and parasites, if I didn’t have the rose on my mind every day, and act accordingly, it would die. I’d kept dozens of varieties of other plants before. Some I purchased at full bloom, others only tiny specks of seeds. Some withered in the summer heat and perished quickly, others hung around year after year, contributing little but requiring virtually no maintenance whatsoever. Some started out nice enough but I let them grow wild, and they choked each other out, fighting for nourishment in the soil. I bought a rose because I was so bad at appreciating what I had, because I went through so many lesser flowers halfheartedly. I bought a rose because I needed to practice love.

Love is not a seasonal custom, or a pleasure to enjoy when one’s in the mood for it. Love is everlasting labor, and reward. It’s appreciating something special for what it is, and what it brings to you every day: in the pleasure of seeing something thrive, and the grace from having a chance to make something better of yourself, to make something other than yourself better. I’ll probably live to be eighty-four and still not fully understand this.

I bought a rose with the hope that we could grow together, and I’d gain a strength inside that I’d always lacked. I bought a rose as training for something more precious than the life of several thorny stems in earth. I bought a rose and watered it, put in the sun, talked to and fawned over it. After some time had passed, it gathered white spots after a week or so I skimmed some articles on-line which led me to buy a fungicide at the department store. I sprayed it on and walked away, later bothered with how long the milky chemicals glazed the once vibrant leaves. Branches grew brittle and snapped off, petals fell to the ground and every new blossom that formed was smaller and more anemic. From time to time when I had a minute and it would catch my attention I would prune away a little of the worst areas; laundry caught on a thorned twig quietly pleading for help.

Winter came and I was left with three meager sticks and dozen sickly leaves. It looked like I had lost again, and I was fated to never learn from my self-absorbed egotism. For the first time since high school I spent a cold winter alone, truly lost in an empty house.

Eventually the spring came and the warmth of the sun returned to my balcony. The same old uninvited vines clung to my railing planters and I began to think of how I’d eventually have to lay down some new marigolds and turnips to cool the summer afternoons. But one day when I wasn’t expecting it something changed. As I was sweeping the cruft from the last five months down towards the drain spout I bumped into that simple brown pot in the corner of ground. The long barren and unforking stalks of my rose were different– over two dozen chartreuse buds had appeared, and in those tiny, meager shoots I found more joy and surprise than all of the last year put together. The rose had taught me a lesson, though it wasn’t the one I thought I was looking for… love was undying, and had given even ungrateful me another chance. If love can keep hope for me, then there must be a way for me to keep hope for it.

Technology watering down existence

At the beginning of my first serious foray into online presence, I had three things: a portfolio to get a job, a blog, and a Friendster account. The first became largely irrelevant after I was hired and moved out to Tokyo two weeks from graduation, and the latter was fraught with a lack of relevance and style, which quickly led it to obscurity. However, the blog, is something that I’ve more or less kept at faithfully for the better part of eight years. I began writing of my explorations in this fantastic land, and quickly supplemented that with the angst of trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be. If it was one thing you could count on it was my endless stream of diatribes yearning for import.

Over time I began to find my place, through the kindness of others and the occasional burst of learning from my own stubborn demands that the world fit my narrow-minded vision of right and wrong. I moved from writing about stray cats and working on weekends to endless, repeated praise for trance music and what I quaintly cherished as community. Then at some point I decided to start doing something public with my photography, whether people recognized me for it or not, and thus we arrived at end of the decade. In the time since ubiquitous computing (to use a word that was en vogue with SIGCHI when I was in college), the fragmentation of platforms, portals, and people has made it harder and harder to be noticed, with each microtransaction of communication becoming far and far less meaningful, any rare original thought swallowed in a sea of chaff.

Sheepishly I now realize that I’ve probably driven away the three or four actual people I had reading this public journal with the advent of my adoption of that watered-down sinkhole of information exchange Facebook. I say so much more often so much less, that it leads me to wonder in twenty years’ time will my children find interest in reading my journal or my tweets? The answer is probably neither, but just the same I’m glad I took the time to sit down and actually think about what I was doing before six months went by and I was scratching my head why 2011 felt so much more empty than any of the other years in recent past.

It’s most likely not a coincidence that the speed and density of my current background music, The Plateaux of Mirror, is likely nearly half that of the floor-rattling trance I usually have on at this time of night. Thank you Mr. Eno for helping me collect my thoughts and appreciate the last forty minutes a little more.

Now the real irony is I started this entry meaning to write about love… but there we have it, the attention span of mankind pared to a millisecond.