The Zoey Blog: An honor...and a knuckle ball FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An honor...and a knuckle ball

I'm not entirely sure how to write this, nor am I all that certain how to process the information, but the most wildly intelligent, troubled, transient young man I've ever met (and I've met a few) just walked back into my life. After hitchhiking to the west coast, and back...getting robbed three times...meeting a cast of characters that Neal Cassidy would be impressed with, and filling my head with Kerouacian daydreams for most of the morning, my young friend told me that the novel he's writing is a colorful mix of the two of us. Huh? That's right, a complicated blend of both old and young, of similar ideals from entirely different perspectives, of road stories and characters, both his own and those that I've let slip, and lastly about redemption, even if it's not immediately recognized or acknowledged. The main character's name is Brian, and he's thirty-eight years old.

He went on to tell me all about the book's structure and how the narrative weaves in and out of what he's come to understand as the perpetual reality vs. illusion conflict, something he said matter of factly, that he learned from me. He didn't blink, he didn't pause, he just filled the air with this endlessly impressive diatribe without even a fleeting thought that I might be caught a little off guard.

The main character's name is Brian? Why? How can that be? The story is a mash of both he and I...huh? Not that I'm not impressed, but how'd this happen? Did I maybe say some things that I shouldn't have? He had, after all, just gotten back home from BC when he was shipped off to jail for two weeks, only to be released and eventually straggle into my humble little uncomfortable office. I remember shipping him off to rehab with a handful of Hunter S. Thompson books to take the edge off, and a demand that he write. Since then I've become his own personal lending library...a book here, Leonard Cohen, Live at the Isle of Wight there...he's leaned on me almost too much at times, and then disappeared for months at others.

I'm not sure if I want the responsibility for this and yet I'm somewhat conditionally flattered, if not wholly flabberghasted. I suppose if you peeled back all of the layers of my occasional professionalism I'd be completely floored with an odd, almost inappropriate pride, but the thin veil of maturity I try to shroud myself in makes me hesitant to relish in the honor. Have I influenced this young man wrongfully? Who's to judge that but myself, perhaps, but in our daydreams I see him living, not doing his best to kill himself. Hopping trains and sleeping in the woods can be a little of both.

It's not that I don't embrace the vigor with which he chases down life, but what if he had never walked back into this office? What if he fell lifeless to the concrete during one of those robberies? I know that he is very much what he is, and that I, if at all, have influenced him very little, but the thought remains, what if he's romanticizing every little adventurous back and forth we have, and turning my version of cautious and prudent adventuring into a #$%king Jack Kerouac novel in which he takes everything six steps further? I'm certain his life on the road would have occurred with or without my existence, and I'm certain that if anything, I've helped to make him more safe, and more aware, and much more thoughtful about his path, but there's a faint smell of prudence drifting in from my conscience, and it stinks.

This young man is not of this world that you and I inhabit, he isn't...he simply isn't, and so, perhaps I am more astonished and taken back by his connection with me than I am worried that my influence has been a detriment to him. He's survived every little twist thrown his way, in fact, he's lived through them with a smile, and I can't help but wonder why there is a character in the odd machinings of his brain, named Brian. How did that come about?

If he finds a life full of success I'll feel proud. If he ends up dead I'll feel responsible, even when I know that I'm not.

It makes me wonder how he sees me. It also sheds light on how I see myself. I've never been able to corner and capture any kind of self-awareness beyond humility. I have less faith in my abilities than others. I have less ambition than what others often attribute to me. I even have far less sincerity and perspective than most would assign to me. I'm a fairly selfish man, so it strikes me awkwardly and by surprise when I find myself in the middle of any kind of unsolicited kindness. Ask June, she'll probably tell you that I'm difficult to love in the sense that I don't accept it's gentle caress with a very gluttonous hand. I tend to starve myself when it comes to vanity and refuse the nourishment of other people's appreciation and affection. I dunno why, I just do. I tend not to believe the hype. I know who I am, and it's not the main character of a novel. I serve, I really do, and I find a joy and comfort in doing so. I'm also not so stupid as to miss the fact that in some ways all of that is, in fact, vain, and is, indeed, bathing in the most subtle forms of soliciting a muted kind of appreciation. I suppose I do want to be noticed, just on a small scale. I don't need a big life, but like Adam Duritz sang, "I'm nothing...nothing, if I'm not this high." Maybe I'm harvesting the seeds that I planted?

It was good to see my young friend, but now my head is spinning. There's no doubt that he'll finish the book, and there's little concern that it will be good. It will. I just don't know what to think of all of it. It makes me...I don't know, uncomfortably self-conscious. It's like a good knuckle ball. Once you've been struck out by one you start to wonder how it is that you could ever hit a ball in the first place. What's comforting is that there's almost always another inning.


Blogger kaedejune said...

Yup, you're right. But you should just feel humbly honoured... I know its hard and there's a lot more to it. Be happy that he's still around and that you've made a impact on his life... you make a bigger impact than you realize, on a lot of peoples lives. That alone should make you smile... it makes me smile :)

August 26, 2010 at 11:34 PM  

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