August is buried, September a memory, October about to disappear into a pile of mouldering leaves and mushy pumpkins. Usually, as the golden light of August dims and the long shadows of summer disappear into Autumn’s wet and dark, a mild melancholy settles upon me as I look back on summer, on the warm respite from routine, and upon my life and where it has gone. Something about the change in light, perhaps, or just a well-marked crossroads from which to stare long in each direction.
Along with that instrospection always comes that one particular Friday evening or Saturday afternoon where the fog hangs low over the scents of leaves and mown grass, and I wish for just one more time to to strap on the pads of chaos and cause human wreckage. I am now the man I am, but once I was woe and weal, the meeting place of primitive and cunning, a being formed of the soft flesh of humanity but created purely for the bruising of it. For the first half of my life (thus far), football was the finest expression of me, the clear light internal territory I carved from empire otherwise blanketed in darkness.
I have not had time for these thoughts. August and early September were consumed with the relocation of my business, a process wherein I painted and cleaned a ‘new’ old and rough and extremely inexpensive space during a time when all my employees save my elf-sized bookkeeper, who while very good at her actual job, is not much of an other-end-of-the-furniture-holder, were on pre-planned seasonal layoffs or using the last of annual vacation banks. I packed and moved boxes, disassembled and re-built desks and chairs, moved an entire business out of its almost-fifty-year location into a nearly derelict space I refashioned, refabricated, and refurbished alone. Despite the solitary undertaking, the business was ‘down’ for only three hours while voice and data was brought online.
Late September and October have been the navigation of site prep at my old office, the removal of 50,000 gallons of underground petroleum tanks, the demolition of the bulk loading facility, the marshalling of heavy equipment, geotechnical engineers and environmental consultants, plus the ongoing holding of property buyers’ hands and the management of expectation from 5 or 7 parties of divergent interest, not counting my own. On the location since 1966, I estimate that 200 million gallons of petroleum flowed in and out of the site over the years, there has been no ground- or surface water contamination, and site soils are clear. I run a tight ship.
These activities have not kept me from operating my business, nor did they keep my familiy from trying to sell our home and move at the same time as all these other transpirations. I do not believe in “multitasking,” I generally think it manifests as Half-ass Tasking or even more likely, social networking from your phone when you should be doing something else. Nevertheless, I may at some point offer myself mild congratulations for extremely high level Half-ass Tasking.
Before these endeavors was a decade of ensuring care for extended family with cognitive disability, physical impairment, disease, some with laziness and spite. My wife and I wondered, as we tried to sell our home, if we might not be on the verge of ‘our time,’ rather than the time of present and immediate past, the time where I rolled numerous boulders uphill and out of the way for others to tread the clear, flat path in my wake. When, we wondered, will our path be clear? When will mine?
The answer, of course, is never, and the informing moment of these processes was when my wife and I realized: each time we perceive our own struggle, it is we ourselves who are in control. Change is in us. It is those around us, who rely on my struggle for their ease or succor, who cannot change. Theirs is the Sisyphean path.
My life as an ‘adult’ has been defined by a curious, and perhaps singular, form of narcissism. I have long thought and labored that the world will know my worth, purely and only because of it. I will be the stuff of legend, a path will be beaten to my door. I have not and do not sing of myself, save for these pages. So it is that my paintings, my furniture, my sculptures and landscapes, the design and creation of this or that–they all occur in private. I don’t charge for services or sell objects. A very small favored few may have a garden or a table, admiration received reflected by a gift of love. The problem with toiling in obscurity is that it is so very…obscure.
As a joke I share with myself, I begin each day–as I put my car in drive and head to work–by saying out loud: “WATCH THIS!” Of course, no one is there to watch, no one even to listen as I rise to the challenge of the day. All too frequently, there is nothing TO watch either, as my days as the vigorous young lion of my industry are behind me, and my business rendered moribund by economy and financial rape by its shareowners. But these most recent struggles are nearly complete. It now seems that fruit will be borne and I may cast at least these boulders from my path. I had a plan, it has failed; but I have a backup plan, and because I am neurotic that plan has a backup also. I am not on the bus, I drive it.
It is in these things that I see the sun break. I look out my window at the leaden October sky, there is a literal light right over there where the sun ought to be, and that is the thing: the sun even shines on a cloudy day. It is only temporarily out of view.
Remembering, the hard focus and concentraged rage of the younger creature that was me: what it felt like to shed my opponent, to will myself past the moving frame of human impediment and see a clear path to the ballcarrier. The storm and fury goes silent and feels supernaturally slow. I am the intersection of intelligence and force, I am the nexus of subterfuge and power. I am a Rat King of logic and sinew, of reason and relentlessness. I am storm, I am vengeance; I am guile, I am WAR.
I am present in my present. The sun shines, invisible but only for the moment. I say out loud: Look at me. Watch this.
Thanks to Corene for the ‘Autumn Sunrise’ photographs