I thought we’d broken up permanently after the angsty tickle me Emo years. In the tilt-a-whirl meanderings of my early twenties, Nietzsche was gravity. The bummer friend always waiting in the corner. He helped explain the world in a way that I could understand. The absurdity. The lack of God. The will to power in the people I never quite found a way of understanding.
We were an unlikely pair. He came with me everywhere in various paperback forms. I attended a few meetings of his fan group, the Nietzsche Society. Everyone was so serious and thoughtful and respectful of each other’s time to speak. I don’t know that (before or since), I’ve ever been part of a group that paid more mind to what they were saying and how they were listening.
As the notches of life crept towards thirty, my anger subsided and we drifted apart. He faded back into the recesses of a dusty bookshelf and I wandered on towards Hesse and words that came from the east. I really never looked back and life just went on in its usual fits and starts for years.
After my father passed, I began to see echoes of the absurd. People were more confusing again and I withdrew into silence, the greatest weapon of the sensitive. I’d lie awake at night and through the moonlight I could hear a faint knocking. Almost like an unbearable fragile rose branch tapping on the far side of myself. I ignored it. Turned up the fan I use for white noise and watched as my thoughts spun out and out of control. So many months of trying to reach out and clasp the version of myself that floated just beyond reach, but she couldn’t be caught anymore. Mostly because she wasn’t there.
Nietzsche returned one night uninvited. He wanted to rehash the old issue of eternal recurrence (to be brief…it’s namely that time is a flat circle and the same life is lived over and over again in the same sequence end over end forever without any chance of escape). In my twenties I thought when God died, the singular most awful and creative sentence as repayment would be damning us to repeat everything. I think that’s why I ran to words of the East. We could reincarnate and atone and change our fates forever. Honestly though. Who knows? Both, neither, one or the other: all equally possible. Those who solve the problem don’t tell secrets.
I think retrospect is a way more useful way of marking one’s progress through time than a calendar. I sat up from bed and decided that I didn’t want my thoughts to spin out of control forever. I thought about the moments in my story that were good. The ones that still make me catch my breath when I revisit them. There were so many I’d forgotten! Somehow I drifted off into sleep and finally slept until morning. The next day I decided to try to make new good moments to add to the collection for sleepless nights. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes we find ourselves unwillingly and unwittingly playing a supporting role in our own life and a more active role in stories that aren’t our own. It takes a lot of presence to step out of the story line. I signed off of social media (facebook namely) because I realized I had been spending so much time and energy staring at a screen filled with voices and noises that were affecting my well being and I wasn’t a part of any of them. I had to make good forever moments on my own, by myself, and in real time. I don’t think that can be done on a phone with emojis and thumbs.
Every day I’m trying to add more of the good forever type moments. The ones I spend by myself seem to have the biggest effect on my heart. Most of them are outside because that’s where I prefer to be as much and as often as I can. The greatest ones are secrets, but I’ll throw out a few. I curled up with my cat and listened to the rhythm of her purring for an hour. I freed a ladybug from a spider web (sorry about that lil arachnid friend…I owe you a fly). I am memorizing the whorls and swirls of my dog’s fur (he has cancer and they told me two months ago he would probably have 3 months left). Those are just a silly handful in my growing collection of things I’d love to do over and over again. When people or situations are stressful or uncomfortable, I find myself asking whether they are worth stewing over not only once, but again and again and again. I haven’t found a single one yet that is. The foods I eat are better and healthier. I’m finding myself more patient with people I would typically want to flip off or curse in whispered Vietnamese. It’s making my skin fit better.
I’ve read a lot of books and teachings that were supposed to reveal the secret of how to live a good life, filled with all sorts of step by step plans and schematics. I’m learning that they are just books, not without merit of course, but just somebody’s words. Living a good life, one worth repeating, means participating and writing and directing your own story. Not to say that there won’t be downs and swamps and snares and snakes and Scorpios and trenches. I know when my pup passes, the thought of living that moment forever will level me. Real power comes from making good moments in spite of those times. I’m hoping I’ll scrape myself off the ground eventually and keep adding to the stash of beauty. The alternative would be sitting in it forever. And that would mean Nietzsche would leave me for good. And I’d have to start wearing all black again which means dry cleaning expenses and more frown lines.
That leaves the worm connection. This last rainstorm left quite a few puddles on our dirt driveway that ended up filled with earthworms. I took a stick and moved as many as I could out into the field so we didn’t run over them. I’d always thought that rain flooded them up and out of the ground. I just learned yesterday that they actually breathe through their skin and they suffocate if they dry out which is why their rich soil gifts to us are so deep underground. Rainstorms allow them to surface and migrate faster and safely to another wormy home. The rains give them freedom to journey. Maybe they look forward to winter and the good worm memories of the open road?
I hope that Nietzsche finds his way to anyone reading this. If only to help you really live your very best life on your very own terms and in your own secret ways. It’s nobody’s business what memories you pack to keep you warm but I do really hope you keep the best ones hidden safely in your own hearts for days when the rains come.