Tuesday, August 19, 2008

no substitute

albert camus, the french existentialist, wrote, "there's no substitute for a long life." alas, the youngest winner of the nobel prize, he died in a car accident at 51.

and somewhere else i read, concerning dieting, "if you want chocolate cake, eat it. otherwise you'll drink a gallon of carrot juice and then eat the chocolate cake. substitutes don't work."

how are these related? i don't know. concerning the statement by camus, i always thought it meant, "live long enough and you'll understand what it's all about." unfortunately, older and no wiser, i'm much less certain of my beliefs though not of my observations.

what i have discovered about living awhile is that you have the chance to have lots of experiences, of all kinds. you have time for your priorities to change and to explore different paths. a friend once said, "happiness is realizing your potential." well, we certainly have a lot of different potentials. d.h. lawrence wrote, "find myself? which self are you talking about? i've many selves."

true, i have discovered people's personalities do not change unless they have brain damage. hopefully, they learn to expand and expound on their possibilities and adventures. that said, the child of five is the child of eighty-five.

as i said, i thought i was pursuing understanding. now i know what really interested me was experience, a great variety. theater, romance, travel, writing, it all has led me by the nose. and luckily i've been able to switch from one to the other as my inclinations and desires decided. for example, twenty years of the sexual dillemas which took me many places and moods ended (pretty much) just about the time aids appeared on the scene. i'd never been particularly careful; all my encounters turned out to be hetero but that would not have protected me in the long run.

or theater. at least i pursued that rainbow until i could write and direct plays well, having a few minor successes. i enjoyed the process, as i never did with movie-making. i lived long enough to have a few delightful satisfactions, especially the one of feeling i could finally do it.

jack of all trades, master of none? yes, you can look at it that way. however, the real luxury in life is in being able to realize many potentials, many selves. the first psychic i ever went to see, gloria, said, "evolution is speeded up. we're living six lifetimes in one." perhaps that will console you for feeling you've never been able to make your mark because you get too bored with any particular endeavor.

many people i've known have died young. i think of everything my friend renate, a doctor in berlin, has missed by commiting suicide at thirty-one in 1971. and those hit by cars, bullets, and cancer at twelve and twenty-three. hopefully, they're back with a different name and another chance.

so, don't accept substitutes and wish for the most important thing: good luck.

ps. speaking of the return to childhood, i did it again last week, playing with the automatic pictures in paint shop pro, doing what i did in the first grade: www.pbase.com/wwp/tube

and i've doubled the number of pictures in this summer's lookout gallery: www.pbase.com/wwp/smoke