Waking Up.

There’s only one instant, and it’s right now. And it’s eternity.

– Pinball Playing Man. Waking Life.

I’ve recently been all wrapped up in the notion of time. Time differences. Time delays. Time spent. And time lost. Time. There’s a lot of it right? If you care to reflect. And then there’s hardly enough of it– as you live it– in real time. Time is a big can of worms.

Huge.

Really.

So I’ve spent the last two days wrapped up in bed with the flu, wondering what I’ve really been wrapped up in. Really. What has really been at the root of this fever. Really.

I seem to get sick every May when I’m living in Australia.

Following the longest summer, every May, around this time, the third week there of, it begins to rain. And rain and rain.

Germs get washed ashore and every one falls ill.

This happens ever y year. It’s pretty well much our only season change. Really. If you think about it. It gets hot. For like, ages. And then it gets cold, for like, three months. That’s it. That’s all the time we get here. That’s our change. It’s huge, really.

Interestingly though, most people I come in contact with fall sick around the first or second week of May. But for me, it’s always the third. I find this curious as the third week of May always marks the beginning of the Sydney Writers Festival.

Ca-ching!

Why?

Well…

I have a few theories.

Most of which are all wrapped up in the tight, tumultuous theme of Time & Fear.

Why do we all get sick as the season changes?

I mean really, why? Have you thought about it? New germs? New weather? But what of fear?

I had an interesting conversation with a few friends at a dinner party at my place a couple of weeks ago. Everyone– and this oh-so-Sydney– was lamenting the end of (what I deem, a rather laborious, seven months of) summer.

We all got to discussing the nature of seasons and change. The end of emergency picnics– pre-planed in car boots the city over. Or the absence of a lover– pre-planed for the winter. The end of socialising. The begining of introspection. How terribly frightening. No one told us this would happen. I can hardly believe it’s happening. It’s happening. Again. SHIT.

Sydney-siders aren’t particularly well versed in the nature of seasons. We don’t get it. We want it to be sunny all the time. We want it to be good, all the time. We actually come to expect it. It’s our right. Right?

I always find myself immensely overjoyed by the rain this time of year. ABOUT FUCKING TIME! I announce to the trees, the telegraph poles, the neighbors, the dinner guests… It doesn’t happen nearly enough here. Change. The summers are SO long.

My favorite writing professor would always say that revolutions seldom happen under blue skies. He’d spent a lot of time living in France and we’d often lament the absence of a Decent Winter in Australia with regards to literature and hibernation.

They’re friends after all, winter and art. Besties, really…

Think about it.

As you think about this.

I spent this evening with a dear friend who spent a rather hideous afternoon in a waiting room at a “Specialist Clinic” today feeling like a piece of meat on a big, fat lucrative conveyer belt… and I felt for her. I really did. All fucking day long. All day long. I thought about her.

Because if I care to think about time I’ve spent more of my life “living” in waiting rooms than playing outside in the sun, with all the other kids. I really have. A lot of time. Spent. A lot.

And as she shared me with me her story tonight of horror and impatience, and impermanence, and ill-health and family and finances and so much grief… My mind split in to two sections. Both of which involve Time.

The first was, of course, the time I’ve spent being in her situation.

Time spent in clinics. Online. Making phone calls. Researching. Being poked and prodded. Being asked to give more. Try harder. Wait longer. Hold on the line… Wait. Wait. Listen. Heed advice. Faaaark.

And the other, being time I’ve spent feeling a little more like Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in that clip, I trust, you observed at the beginning of this sweat.

In love.

The opposite of waiting for specialists to hand you their version of events, their truth, their verdict. A complete bipolar opposite really.

Love is pretty different to being sick.

And it’s May, right. Which is pretty different here to summer.

Which was a funny little predicament to find myself in really, today.

Because on the one hand, I understand the suffering of my dear friend entirely. I really do.

But I’m also not suffering right now.

Not at all.

The flu, the fever, the third week in May. Fuck it. It’s not suffering. It’s glorious. All of it. A bomb could drop on my tiny shoe box of an apartment tomorrow and all would still be well with the world, according to me, because I– Lucky, lucky, LUCKY me, have found someone to share it with. And THAT is a reality devised entirely out of Time.

Once upon a Time, I was in her shoes.

I was sitting outside fucking hospitals and clinics and spaces devoted entirely to SHIT.

Crying and smoking and texting and all but demanding something magical happen, and like, really soon– ideally– like, yesterday.

But Time doesn’t give you that.

It doesn’t respond out of impulse.

It takes Time, right?

And so as we cooked and drank and smoked and talked tonight my mind split again, and I began to wonder– or perhaps remember– what the coolest thing anyone could have ever said to me– at the Time — might’ve been.

At the Time she’s in. Right now. How she feels, right now. That is.

What I needed to hear, then.

What would’ve helped me, then.

And the split took place in two very even parts.

The What People Said That Pissed Me Off At The Time Chronicles.

And

The People Who Actually Gave A Shit And Cared To Ask Chronicles.

And just like that, my desire to have something awesome to say paled in comparison to my desire to ask her more questions.

To listen.

To wait.

To hear.

Because, the truth be known, I don’t think any of us care for advice. Ever. Really.

I know I don’t.

And I think we all get so fucking wrapped up in the preoccupation of Getting It Right, or Saying The Right Thing or Being The Best Friend, that we miss the point entirely.

If advice were that important we’d all be giving and receiving it all the time, and growing as a consequence. But we don’t. We aren’t. It’s just annoying mainly. Advice.

I don’t think we ever learn much when people tell us what to do, how to feel, who to call, what to say, how to live, and which fucking specialist to see next… And I’ve seen a lot. But that’s not the point.

I think we learn the most by refilling each others glasses, actually.

By cooking each other a meal.

By cleaning each others flats.

By putting the kettle on.

By asking what happened.

By dimming the lights.

By making sure our loved ones are warm, and safe, and cuddled… A lot.

That’s waking up.

And that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Really.

A bit of Time.

x.

Ah we’re drinking and we’re dancing
and the band is really happening
and the Johnny Walker wisdom is running high
And my very sweet companion
she’s the Angel of Compassion
she’s rubbing half the world against her thigh
And every drinker every dancer
lifts a happy face to thank her
the fiddler fiddles something so sublime
all the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it’s partner found, it’s partner lost
and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
it’s CLOSING TIME
Yeah the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it’s partner found, it’s partner lost
and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
it’s CLOSING TIME

Ah we’re lonely, we’re romantic
and the cider’s laced with acid
and the Holy Spirit’s crying, “Where’s the beef?”
And the moon is swimming naked
and the summer night is fragrant
with a mighty expectation of relief
So we struggle and we stagger
down the snakes and up the ladder
to the tower where the blessed hours chime
and I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can’t say much has happened since
but CLOSING TIME

I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can’t say much has happened since
CLOSING TIME

I loved you for your beauty
but that doesn’t make a fool of me:
you were in it for your beauty too
and I loved you for your body
there’s a voice that sounds like God to me
declaring, declaring, declaring that your body’s really you
And I loved you when our love was blessed
and I love you now there’s nothing left
but sorrow and a sense of overtime
and I missed you since the place got wrecked
And I just don’t care what happens next
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it’s something in between, I guess
it’s CLOSING TIME

Yeah I missed you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it’s something in between, I guess
it’s CLOSING TIME

Yeah we’re drinking and we’re dancing
but there’s nothing really happening
and the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night
And my very close companion
gets me fumbling gets me laughing
she’s a hundred but she’s wearing
something tight
and I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
which you can’t reveal to the Ears of Youth
except to say it isn’t worth a dime
And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it’s once for the devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don’t like these dizzy heights
we’re busted in the blinding lights,
busted in the blinding lights
of CLOSING TIME

The whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it’s once for the devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don’t like these dizzy heights
we’re busted in the blinding lights,
busted in the blinding lights
of CLOSING TIME

Oh the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
It’s CLOSING TIME
And it’s partner found, it’s partner lost
and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops
It’s CLOSING TIME
I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
It’s CLOSING TIME
The Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can’t say much has happened since
But CLOSING TIME
I loved you when our love was blessed
I love you now there’s nothing left
But CLOSING TIME
I miss you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex.

– Leonard Cohen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVt6vhRAu3k


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