As this blog has progressed, there have mercifully been fewer and fewer entries of a retrospective focus. This is an auspicious trend for reasons that will become apparent later. However, this entry will buck that trend a bit.
This morning, for better or worse, I stumbled upon an article in the New York Times about Cedar Rapids. In spite of my providing that link, I do not expect anyone to read the item. In a nutshell it is a technically well-written article the theme of which is that Cedar Rapids remains devastated as a result of the flood last year, that recovery has stalled, and that the nation has now forgotten the city.
On the periphery of that city all the big and little boxes, white, yellow, and green continue to percolate along:
Starbuck's (A large number of the names of our national and international franchises are rendered in the possessive. What's the deal with that?)
(See entry of April 28.) The entire local sampling of homogeneous, ubiquitous American and International Capitalism survived the flood perfectly intact. And that is just fine.
The only thing that was destroyed was that which distinguished Cedar Rapids from any other American city and the only thing that rendered it visually recognizable as Cedar Rapids and not Peoria--the then resurgent downtown along the river. It was the downtown that I frequented as a little boy with my aunt and grandmother. My office was there for years. The library. I went to courts federal and state there. And on and on. Amid all my difficulties and joys, I ever loved that downtown even in its bad times. It has been unquestionably destroyed forever to my way of thinking.
I know Mike Papich, the funeral director featured in the article, very well. I represented the sellers in the long, tedious negotiations and ultimate sale to him of his business about ten years ago. I trod delicately in that affair because I came to like Mike far more than I did my own clients, who were difficult people. Both his home and his business were devastated. My heart goes out to him now and all those others.
At the same time my heart leaps with joy that I am out of that now God-forsaken place. As a result of a series of events, I was already well done immediately before the flood occurred. You could have easily stuck a fork in me. But it was the flood that destroyed downtown that was the last straw, the event that motivated me to undertake the long ordeal of shutting down and leaving.
Space limitations preclude me from elaborating on my mental segue from the previous section to this. At the risk of holding forth and sounding like treacle from a Hallmark card, I nevertheless wish to write this down, one of the very few things of this life that I have come to know to a certainty.
There is no such thing as “might have been.” “Might have been” has no existence. It is nonsensical. It is a clear absurdity. It is not that “might have been” exists, and we must talk regretfully to Jesus about it. “Might have been” is simply not a part of life as we live it that we must deal with in any way whatsoever. To think that we must come to terms with “might have been” is to think as a child.
There are no good “might have beens.” There are no bad “might have beens.” There may be black whites. There may be good evils. There may actually exist a plethora of oxymorons and other seemingly nonsensical things. I do not know. But I now know something so profoundly that it is part of my identity. “Might have been” has no existence whatsoever.
It does not exist NOT because I do not want it to exist. It does not exist NOT because the God of the brilliant Jews did not create it in the first seven days. No, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it does not exist because it is nowhere in this universe, in these cosmos, in the heavens, or any bigger fucking word you can think of. It is impossible.
In fact "might have been" takes nonexistence to a whole new level. It is such an utter nullity that if God had attempted to create it, “might have been” would have swallowed God's own very existence because "might have been” is the ultimate black hole. I could go on, but you get the idea.
With that axiom in hand, here is my own Theory of Relativity:
1. During each MINUTE that we ponder “might have been,” we are actually expending or burning off measureless HOURS of our life and hastening the day of our demise. That is the nature of the black hole of nonexistence that is "might have been." Its essence of nonexistence swallows time as well as everything else around it.
2. During each minute that we consider the future, plan for the future, and anticipate the future, we can add measureless hours to our life and delay the day of our demise.
And here is the kicker:
3. To the extent that we can live in this moment totally, in this moment of the "right now," the one here right in front of our noses--en este momento as my friends in San Miguel would say--then we can stop time and be immortal in this same moment.
As any solipsist worth his salt will tell you as he taps his head knowingly, it is all up here, not out there.
A word of warning though. If you actually start to act in conformity with Part 3 of my Theory of Relativity, your smile muscles will get sore now and again.
I am tired of tortillas, tortas, quesadillas, gorditas, and tacos. In fact I have had it up to here with tortillas, tortas, quesadillas, gorditas, and tacos for the moment. I have not had any bacon and scrambled eggs and fried potatoes and toast made with shitty American bread since I left Texas. I am going to post this, plug in the toaster, step out of the camper, ignite that little stove, and make some of all of that for myself in this moment at 9:57 p.m., August 28, 2009.