I was having a conversation with a man in a persistent vegetative state.
Am I too harsh?
I was having a conversation with a man who claimed he had found peace and joy by releasing desire.
I ran my fingers through my hair and said, "You're shitting me. What's the deal with that?"
He told me that despair and elation are twin beasts.
"They will leave you as nothing but bones and regrets, every inch striped and scored by their teeth as they devour you. Each is as savage as the other. Don't invite them in. Don't pursue them. Their Master is named Desire. Eschew him.
I crossed my legs and jiggled my foot the way I do when the train is late.
"You don't say," I said.
"But I have to admit, I've been those bones.
I know despair--
When it is done with me, I am nothing but a fine white dust, I can't get out of bed, or up off the floor. Someone has to come around and feed me, like a fucking baby. I am barely a heartbeat. It's like getting carpet-bombed from the inside out.
I also know elation--
If you see me dancing, it isn't because it's springtime;
It's because the floor is on fire.
It's the same as despair except much louder, and my heart just loves the stuff."
He said, "That's not serenity."
I said, "What the fuck's the matter with you?" and I brained him with a paperback copy of that Gary Snyder shit that he goes gooey for.
He just sat there and smiled.
I thought, yanno...
I said, "When I am burned down to nothing and the beasts have gone,
It is only desire that refleshes me
I want I want I want
Pounding in my dainty little ears.
I want a big meal,
I want the woman (or man) I just met,
I want to quit my job,
Go to the beach,
Drown in the surf,
And come back again better than before."
He said, "That is not realistic. There will be a price attached to every desire, and each one will break your heart, over and over again."
I said, "Each 'I want' is a feather in my great glorious black wings."
He said, "They will not take you where you want to go."
I said, "Then I will just stand here blocking the noonday sun," and I ruffled my wings meaningfully.
"You're nuts," we both said together.